Anti-Backlink Plugin; A Game Changer

As many new visitors to the site have noticed (at least those who are real), they’re not getting a message mentioning their lack of a gravatar, and some of them are going straight into the spam filter. What’s going on?

your choice! (cc)
Creative Commons License Martin Fisch via Compfight

The title of this post tells it all. It’s the new addition to my plugins called Anti-Backlink, and it’s a free download available to anyone who’s purchased the CommentLuv Premium plugin from Andy Bailey. It adds way more functionality to trying to reduce the amount of spam blogs get while trying to encourage more people to take the time to go get a gravatar, or avatar for the uninitiated. If you’re going to be online and participating on blogs it’s a must.

Of course the plugin does so much more. Something you can do, that I don’t do, is set how many comments one has to have approved before they start getting CommentLuv link automatically. You can also make the determination that certain people’s posts you want to screen first, thus putting them on a moderated list via their email address. I like this one because there are a few people whose comments seem to vacillate between being okay and being horrible. Sometimes you just don’t know, and as much as I’m against initial moderation, I do believe if someone stops by and they seem slightly dodgy this isn’t such a bad idea.

You can also decide to whitelist email addresses so that they’ll never pass through moderation… as long as they pass any other rules you’ve set up on your blog, since mine has a hold on any comments with a link on them. However, it seems that whitelisting doesn’t take care of those few folks who keep using a particular browser that sends them to spam for whatever reason. lol

One other thing I activated, which will put a stop to something that’s irked me to no end for years, that some bloggers have recommended people do that’s sneaky, is to shut down folks who put more than just the root URL of their blog into the main area when they’re commenting.

Some folks try to get two links to articles on their site by being sneaky. What they’ll do is start off with the regular link, wait until the CommentLuv link comes up, then add a second article link. This plugin catches that and automatically holds that comment in reserve so that we can decide whether to remove it or blacklist the comment in its entirety.

The only minor problem I encountered while testing is that sometimes what it perceives is a sneaky backlink is actually where the blog is. For instance, my business blog is on my main business site, so after the link I have to add /Mitchblog for the link to the blog.

The real test? I used to have comments closed after 180 days, basically six months. Using this plugin along with the GASP pugin, also by Andy, I decided to see what happened if I opened it up to 365 days. Using both plugins, the amount of spam increased very little; almost everything else is being bounced so I’m not seeing it at all. Matter of fact, I just opened it up to 500 days as a further test.

Soon, the faceless will be less prominent here. At least I’ll still accept some folks if their comments are pretty good; not everyone is as nice. 🙂
 

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When Blog Posts Make You Crack Down On Someone

You know, it’s rare for me to actually get my ire up and bust on someone else’s blog. I may disagree, but for me to actually get angry enough to have to comment and not be my normal, nice self is something entirely different. But I did that last night, and I’m not sorry I did it, especially since it was a guest post. And it’s possible that I was still feeling the effects from having gone through what I did yesterday afternoon, which I talked about on yesterday’s post.


by Tostado Photo via Flickr

I’m not going to say where I commented. What I am going to do is say what irked me to death.

It was a guest post by a guy talking about reasons why he won’t comment on someone’s blog post. Heck, I’ve read a lot of these; I’ve written some myself. Most of the time the reasons make a heck of a lot of sense; this time they were juvenile and immature. What were they?

1. No images or videos.

2. No CommentLuv.

3. Too long.

Period; that’s it. Now, I’ve had some people here say that they don’t like long posts; that’s too bad if you ask me. If a topic is worth it then read the long post. If you don’t care about the topic move on and go read something else. To me that’s the one that others have mentioned that I disagree with but I understand that not everyone speed reads, and some people can go on and on about literally nothing. But just to say your reason for not reading something is because it’s too long… that’s what comic books are for.

The first one, no images or videos… Really, you need an image to get you interested in reading a post? You need a video to entertain you? Are we back in the 30’s and 40’s when every movie that made any money needed to suddenly have a song and dance in the middle of it? Is this Bollywood?

Not everyone wants to take the time to add an image to their posts. I do it in this blog and my local blog, but for my other 3 blogs I only sometimes have an image. Every topic isn’t viable for images. Maybe videos, since YouTube seems to have videos for everything but come in, how often do I want to write a post on leadership or health care and then add some video that “might” pertain to what I’m talking about?

Sorry, but if the subject matter doesn’t seem to generate a need for an image, there won’t be one. If that’s what you need to get you reading, there’s a series of books for you written by a guy named Dr. Seuss. And they’re pretty fun I’ll admit, as I still have many of my books from when I was a child (I actually still go and pull out Go Dog Go from time to time).

By the way, I will add this, just to be fair. If you want some of your posts shared then it’s good to add an image to them, depending on where you want them shared. For instance, if someone wishes to share what you’ve written on Google Plus or Facebook, images work wonders. If you’re hoping they’re sharing them on LinkedIn or Twitter, then images are optional. The first two mediums are boosted by visuals, the last two not so much.

Finally, CommentLuv. If everything else is equal but the thing you don’t want to do is not comment because you’re not going to be able to get credit for your blog for writing a comment, that’s just weak. Yes, I’m a big time CommentLuv fan, one of the early adopters, but for me, if the comment system allows me to leave an unencumbered comment I’m there. I don’t need to have a link coming back to a specific post. I get a link back to my blog for the asking, and that’s good enough for me.

And I’ll even say that I have my own peccadillo’s on commenting, which y’all know. There are certain platforms I refuse to comment on, others I’ll rarely comment on, and I absolutely hate captcha’s. In those cases though, I’m not saying I’m avoiding those blogs because I don’t want to comment; I’m avoiding because I don’t want to have to jump through hoops to comment. Much different than saying I’m not commenting because I’m not getting the benefit I want.

In any case the blog post in question made me lose my mind; I actually wrote a different phrase here, then decided most people wouldn’t understand what it meant and I wasn’t ready to have that discussion. As I disclaimered (that’s a made up word), maybe I was still in a state when I saw that and wasn’t my nice, calm self in commenting, or maybe I felt justified because it was utterly stupid. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that it made me comment, and in a way even if my comment wasn’t nice it’s possible that the objective of the writer was made because it got me to comment.

I don’t know; heck, is this post too long?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

I’m Not Registering, And Other Missives

Y’all know I love social media. I love getting to meet people through all the different platforms. I use it for business as well, probably not as good as others but I get by. I’ve written a lot of posts about trying to find ways to encourage people to participate in the processes, retweeting, sharing your information with Facebook and LinkedIn, and commenting on blogs.


by Tom Magliery via Flickr

Well, it seems things are starting to move in a different direction, and I’m not all that crazy about it. Seems that there’s going to be less effort in trying to convince people that maybe you have something worth sharing and more coercion to get them to participate. And I’m not playing the game; nope, just not doing it.

I’m not going to blame this on Andy Bailey, who I think is brilliant. I love CommentLuv, and I’ve been one of its biggest supporters. I know he made no money off that plugin, and probably makes nothing to very little off the GASP Anti-Spambot plugin as well. I know he’s only delivering to the masses what they want. I’m just not going along with it.

Andy is about to release a new version of CommentLuv, a premium paid version that’s going to have a lot of features to it, as well as allow people to eliminate a bunch of plugins because it will contain what those plugins handle now. It’s purpose is to help those who buy it encourage others to share their information with other people to be allowed access to the best parts of CommentLuv on those particular blogs. I don’t have a problem with the first half of this; I do have a problem with the second part.

When the most drastic changes to CommentLuv came around, users had the ability to limit the number of previous posts someone had access to select from if they left comments on one’s blog. They could just up and select a number or do something like ask people to register so they had access to more posts to select from. I decided I was going to leave things alone; after all, I’ve always been open for access without people having to jump through hoops on this blog. I also remember back 4 years ago when it was recommended NOT to let people register on your blog because some of those people had the skills to actually break into your admin panel and cause you all kinds of grief. I guess that hole’s been plugged, though I’ve never heard a retraction of that statement.

Now those who buy the plugin will be able to hold you hostage (yeah, kind of strong) by making you share their content with one of the major social media sites. They can select one, or they can give you the option of selecting which site you want their post to go to. If you do that first, then you have access to your last 10 posts to choose from.

Trust me, I get it. All of us want our content out there as much as possible. All of us want our blogs and websites to grow. But I’m not one of those people that takes kindly to coercion. Y’all know I’m rebellious about participating on blogs that have Disqus, Livefyre, Intense Debate, or any of those other things. You know I’ve stopped participating with Typepad blogs. You know I’m not leaving comments if the comment system is Facebook only. In other words, if I have to go through an extra step just to leave a comment, I’m not doing it.

So, where does that leave me? It leaves me with only having my last post as the selection, and frankly, that’s good enough for me. What you, the blog owner, will lose is the possibility that maybe I’ve written something in my last 10 posts that’s pertinent to your topic on the day I visit your post. You and your readers will just have to deal with whatever I decided to say on my most recent post; that might be good enough for you.

Oh yeah, in this instance I will still comment on your blogs. I’m not dropping anyone I already like. Goodness, I comment on lots of blogs that don’t have CommentLuv. I don’t comment for the link; I comment because I like commenting. You know, one of those guys who’ll share an opinion or statement if I’m encouraged to do so. If the commenting system is still the one I like, I’m sticking around.

But I’m not registering, I’m not retweeting through any of these means that’ll open up my last 10 posts, and I’m not playing the game. I might still retweet, but I’ll do it my way. Yeah, I know most people aren’t going to agree with me on this one. I know the explanations are coming as to why this is good rather than bad.

But, as Wanda Sykes says, “I’m a be me.”
 

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The GASP/Akismet Experiment

It’s not often I do an experiment based on a post I read on another blog but I decided it was time to give one a shot. In this case it was based on a post that our friend Ileane wrote (yes, she actually does sometimes write posts on here blog lol) titled 5 Popular WordPress Plugins You Need to Ditch Now! One of the plugins she talked about ditching was Akismet, which I’ve always kind of had a love affair with, and thus I had to confront her, nicely of course, about the recommendation.

Has the NSA spying gone too far?
greg lilly via Compfight

(Growmap Anti-Spybot Plugin) would get the whole job done without Akismet help. It was developed by Andy Bailey of CommentLuv fame who, interestingly enough, said in an interview I did with him in 2009 that most plugin developers shouldn’t start off by trying to go after Akismet, and years later that’s exactly what he did. 🙂 I wasn’t really sure about it, but I told her I was going to experiment and write about it; this is that post.

A brief bit of history for the uninitiated. There have been a lot of people that have complained that Akismet does two negative things. It can put people on a negative list and thus always have every post of theirs showing up in spam or even being deleted before it ever reaches the spam filter. I’ve always said I had never noticed it and thus it didn’t impact me, but then Gail Gardner of Growmap did an extensive test last year on it and found that some of these issues might be true.

I still dismissed it because Akismet has always done a premium job for me, so it seemed. But I was compelled to do this experiment, and here’s what I’ve kind of come up with.

First, this week I’ve had less spam showing up in my spam filter than ever before. That’s both a good and bad thing mentally because often I had legitimate comments showing up in the spam filter, and over the past week I’ve only had one show up. I don’t know if this means it’s deleting legitimate people who it thinks is a spambot or if this week most of the people that comment have gotten it right.

Second, once I started the experiment I checked the box to allow trackbacks because I wanted to see how it handled them. I did get a lot of those in two days showing up in the spam filter, but not a single legitimate trackback so I turned it back off quickly enough. No trackbacks since.

Third, let me mention the spam filter. I wasn’t sure what would happen if I turned off Akismet and spam came in, but bad messages will still go to the spam filter, so that’s a good thing.

Fourth, if you saw my post about my comments problem you’ll see that I emptied a large folder through PhpMyAdmin that was holding all these statistics from my Count Per Day plugin, which I’ve also inactivated. When I went back I noticed my second largest file was something called wp_commentmeta, and it turns out that’s the file of everything that Akismet collects on comments it’s passed through and denied. Supposedly the WordPress program is supposed to empty that sucker here and there, but mine had never emptied over the years. Since I’d inactivated the plugin I was also able to empty that folder, and now I have so much capacity I feel like I need to start writing more. lol Yes, you can empty that folder safely, even if you’re still using it. And it seems there’s no files being created or filled up by GASP (which I’m still trying to figure out how I got ranked #1 on Google for ‘GASP anti-spybot’).

In my opinion, the GASP plugin has provided some peace overall to this blog, and that’s not a bad thing. I think I’m going to keep things as they are until I see there’s a reason to activate Akismet again, which I’m kind of doubting. And I’m going to do it on my other blogs as well. See, I can learn something from others. lol
 

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Starting Your Blog Social Media Campaign Via Commenting

Last April I wrote a post to add to my Blogging Tips series titled How To Start Getting Visitors. It was a super basic tip on how to get some notice for one’s blog by contacting certain folks and letting them know you had a blog.

While that’s nice and all, one couldn’t quite call it a campaign towards increasing awareness. In essence, it was really like becoming an insurance salesperson and calling all your family members first, then all your friends, then your pseudo friends, and after that not knowing what to do with yourself.

I decided it was time to at least get more people going on this front. I do this because of two things. One, I had a meeting last week with a couple of ladies who wanted ideas on how they could create awareness of their new business through social media. I told them about blogging, based on what it is they do, and then told them the process they should go through to get going. Two, I made the same recommendation recently to someone who visits this blog, and though I’m not sure if he’s done the entire campaign I know that he was willing to listen and give it a try, so I have high hopes.

This is mainly for beginners, but it’s also for people who aren’t getting any real traffic to your site as well. This isn’t a talk about niche marketing; it’s a talk about working the process, meeting the blogging community, and getting known by others. And if you want some more starter information, check out my blogging tips.

Let me set the scenario for you; it’s possible you’ll have more or less time, but this is a great starter scenario. You’re someone who doesn’t have tons of time, but you want to get people to your blog. You write 3 posts a week, and often you have some time left over after you’re blogged, or some on days when you don’t blog. We’re going after the 30 minute process for you to undertake.

Your goal is to make comments on at least 5 blogs during that 30 minute time period. What you do is go to Google Blogs, which can actually be found by going to Google, clicking on “more”, then scrolling down a little bit. When the next page opens, you’ll see all sorts of blog posts on trending topics that look like news. But they’re all blogs, though some aren’t personal blogs. That’s really your goal, because you want the opportunity to stand out; that plus big time blogs like Huffington Post don’t have CommentLuv; this is a part of the strategy.

In the search box, put in a topic that you want to read on. It could be something in your niche, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Believe it or not that statement is controversial, because everyone else will tell you that you need to comment on blogs in your niche because you want targeted traffic. At this stage what you really need is traffic, and you also want the opportunity to not only show that you can talk to people and offer something good, but you still are hoping for the opportunity to stand out. So, you will be looking at blogs in your niche also, if that’s a part of your strategy, but that’s not what it’s all about. Networking; that’s what it’s all about.

For the first two weeks you need to be committed to commenting on at least 5 blogs a day. You can continue going to Google Blogs, but hopefully in your searches you have found a few blogs that you like well enough to return to. That’s important because something blog owners like are people who will come back more than once. You also want to look for a mix of blogs that have CommentLuv and those that don’t. You look for CommentLuv because it highlights previous blog posts of yours; you look for the others because you don’t want to look like one of those guys that “only” comments on CommentLuv blogs; it’s just a little smarmy.


by Petras Kudaras

In the next two weeks, you’re going to comment on blogs that you’ve found you like and now you’re going to make sure to look for blogs within your niche. The thought now is that you’ll have started establishing yourself with at least a couple of people, you’ll have left your links on their blogs, especially if they have CommentLuv, and now you’re going to go out on a campaign to see what others in your niche are saying and take the opportunity to make sure they know you’re around.

After four weeks, look at things this way. If you only had 3 days a week to do this process and only those 30 minutes, you’ve made at least 60 total connections, whether some of those folks received return visits or not. You’ve planted the seeds of knowledge that you’re out there. I would almost guarantee that you’ll have started seeing more visitors, especially if your titles have captured people’s imaginations and your content doesn’t stink.

Once you see the process starting to work, you’ll be hooked. I’ll throw this out there; how many of you who visit these days saw me as one of your initial commenters? How many of you picked up on that and decided you were going to start commenting on other blogs? How many of you found it contagious and uplifting when people finally started coming to your blog? You may not have followed it in the manner I’m recommending here, but you did this in some capacity, right?

Yes, blogging does take more work than just writing posts. But your rewards on the end could give you more than you can imagine; that sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell