Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 15, 2013
I can’t believe it’s been more than 3 years since I wrote on the topic of how to identify spam. In that period of time a lot of things have stayed the same while there are some new players in the game that try to trick us all.
This will probably be a short post from me, which is rare, but I’m hoping to make it easy for everyone instead of getting too deep into the issue. If there’s anything here you don’t understand, leave it in the comments and I’ll give it more time later. Here we go:
1. If a comment doesn’t use your name but calls you something, it’s probably spam. Admin, webmaster, buddy, etc.
2. One line comments are most probably spam unless you know the person.
3. If a comment looks familiar look through previous comments on that same post. Most of the time I recognize that someone has scraped a previous comment but not all the time, and I end up responding to both; ugh.
4. Totally off-topic or not on the topic at all.
5. The comment is way too long. I’ve known a few people who leave long comments but in general most really long comments are spammy sales messages or rants about something totally not based on what you’ve just written about.
6. Questions about your blog in general; not on topic, and please don’t even waste your time responding to this stuff.
7. Female picture with male name, male picture with female name… that should be pretty easy to spot.
8. The email address says “info” or “admin” in it. Not always spam but my policy is it all goes into the spam filter because, unless I know the person, it often means someone’s been paid to leave a lousy comment on your blog & they’re never coming back.
9. Keyword names or somewhat offensive names. I don’t allow either and will just delete the comments without reading them because most of the time they’re spam.
I’ll stop at 9 because that’s one of my favorite numbers and it’s the 9th month. Anyone have any other quick ways to identify spam?
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 26, 2012
It almost feels like I’m coming full circle. Last September, in my effort to combat spam, I did an experiment trying Akismet and the GASP Antispam Bot plugin independently on this blog to see how each worked, after having an issue with the long term use of Akismet. The GASP plugin worked very well so I turned Akismet off and things were running fine.
Until February that is, when suddenly there was a rash of spam coming through that GASP wasn’t picking up. In what I felt was a desperate move, I added Akismet back and suddenly spam was drastically reduced once more. Well, that’s not quite right. I was still getting lots of spam, but it was going into the spam filter instead of onto the posts, which was more irritating than anything else. At that time I also changed my settings so that on all my blogs, if there’s even one link in the content it goes to the spam filter, and the same happens if there are more than 2 words in the name area as well, which I know catches some of you here and there but hey, the comment policy is in big, bold letters above the comment box after all. lol I made that particular change on all my blogs.
Things have been running fine on all my other blogs until a couple of weeks ago. Suddenly, the kind of spam I was getting here started showing up on two of my other blogs and right onto the posts. I don’t know if this means that GASP has been figured out and is easier to bypass or if it’s because the version I’m using is still the free version or if it’s really people coming by, typing in stupidity, clicking in that box and moving on.
Regardless, I turned Akismet back on for both of those blogs, and spam, for the most part, went right where it was supposed to be going in the first place, the spam filter. You know, for all the controversy that Akismet seemed to be generating just over a year ago, that bad boy gets the job done.
So I’m running both on 3 of my blogs now, and if the other two start having that problem I’ll add it to those as well and just keep my eyes open for any comments problems I might end up having at some point, since the fix for them is in that post I just linked to, and hope for the best. And right now, the best is less spam; whew!
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 28, 2012
Most of you aren’t used to my writing shorter posts, but I think this one should qualify as that, even if the video adds another 4 1/2 minutes to your pleasure. lol
In New York, there’s something new that’s been introduced in Albany that’s going after anonymous trolls online. It was introduced by two downstate state senators and it’s purpose is to “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.”
Serious stuff. What’s my take on it? See below:
Now, what’s your opinion on this?
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Mar 24, 2012
You know, my buddy Mitch Allen has been lamenting the high number of spam comments that have been coming to his blog. Whereas I also get a lot of spam, it doesn’t bother me because I find that logging the ISPs into the discussion area of the settings helps keep it down for a large part, and I did end up reactivating Akismet again.
What has been irking me more often these days is all the email I keep getting from people using Gmail in trying to get me to trade links with them or offering to provide SEO services. I know all of this is spam, and even though they have that little disclaimer message at the end saying I can opt out, I’ve found that no I can’t, because they just create another account and continue sending garbage out.
I don’t use Gmail. Well, let me rephrase that. I don’t actively use Gmail. When I purchased my smartphone and had to set it up, because HTC is owned by Google they automatically overrode my username, which was my business email address, and added their own onto it (an email address they created because I’d never gone to create one). This meant that when I get notification that Adsense pays me, or that there’s new advertisers on GAN, or if someone subscribes to my YouTube site, or if anything happens on my G+ account, I get an email notification via Gmail, which I delete since the only place it shows up is on my phone.
Anyway, I had always thought that Google said there were qualifications people had to pass that they didn’t have to pass to create other shared email services that helped prevent spammers from gaining traction. Either I imagined that or once they decided they wanted to expand their participation base so that they could track us all better and override our privacy (oops, did I say that) they also decided to relax their standards and stopped caring who created accounts or what they did with them.
Frankly I think this stinks, and I think it’s one of the biggest failures of Google that, unfortunately, I also don’t think they have much chance to control or stop. Just like Hotmail in the past, it’s all about numbers and easy access to creating these accounts. Pretty much like I lamented about G+ recently, they let anyone create an account and don’t hold them accountable for filling out a profile. Sure, their numbers look impressive, but with an active base of less than 10% (that’s a high estimate) participating what’s it really worth?
I can’t be alone on this; who else is tired of the misuse of Gmail?
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Feb 28, 2012
A couple of weeks ago I had to do something I hadn’t thought about doing in a long while. I had to turn on the Akismet spam plugin once again after a major increase in the number of spam messages I was starting to get. I had hoped that the GASP Anti-Spambot plugin would have taken care of all of that, but it seems people have found their way around it.
don’t ask lol
Even with both programs running, spam is at an all time high for me. It’s not unexpected as the ranking of this blog moves higher, and I don’t think it’s gotten to the level where it’s driving me as crazy as it does some of my friends, who often go to extreme measures trying to kill it, even turning off comments sometimes, which I don’t like as you know.
Part of the problem, of course, are what are considered “bad comments”. On my 1,200th post back in January I mentioned a conversation I had with Adrienne Smith and her contention that some comments aren’t worth keeping on your blog and that she just gets rid of them so that she can respond to everyone else and show a 100% response rate on her blog. What we both believe is that there are a number of people paid to post comments and have links going back to other sites, and most of these people are paid so little that it’s all in the numbers for them, not the quality of the comment.
This begs the question as to whether bad comments and spam are the same thing. It can be a volatile question to respond to because the kneejerk response is “yes”. And yet, I haven’t quite gotten to that point yet where I consider the two as symbiotic 100% of the time.
I’ve read some bad comments with a lot of grammatical errors and thought that it might be spam, but the comment was touching upon the subject matter so I follow the CommentLuv link back to its source and see the same type of writing on the blog. Suddenly that’s not a bad comment, just someone with lousy writing skills.
Is a bad comment a one-liner? Well, that’s up for grabs because I’ve been told by some people that on some of my posts I really don’t leave much for anyone to say if they agree with me on the topic. Frankly I buy that argument only half the time because I’ve always been able to comment on a blog with more than a one liner and make sure the author knows I read the post. But not everyone can do that so how does one judge that? I do judge those posts, and I eliminate a lot of them, just so you know, but not all of them.
What makes a bad comment is almost the same thing as what makes spam. Ergo, some highlights:
* Repeating the title of the post in the comment
* Repeating specific phrases from the content without adding anything new to it
* Writing something so generic that it applies to everything and nothing at the same time
* Writing a lot of nonsense and then popping my name in somehow; that’s pretty sneaky
* Trying to slip a link in that has nothing to do with the topic but everything to do with linking back to your site; isn’t CommentLuv enough for you?
* Writing one comment that looks passable, immediately followed by another comment that’s from the same IP address on the same post; what could you be thinking?
I think that’s enough to think about. Here’s the big question up for debate; do you think bad comments and spam are the same thing? The secondary question is what do you do about it?