Tag Archives: spam

Bad Comments/Spam The Same?

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.


I’m eating a cupcake;
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?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

Figuring Out Live Comment Spam

I know I’m not the only one having problems figuring out which comments are real and which ones are spam these days. Strangely enough, the problem isn’t with the stuff that’s very obviously spam, or with people who you know. It’s the fact that there are enough people who write badly that sometimes you’re not sure if someone is an awful writer or if it’s live comment spam.

Here are four issues I seem to have; let me know if you have them as well:

1. Punctuation but no spaces between it. How many people do you know that write a sentence, add a period, then immediately start writing without a space between the period and the next sentence? I hate to admit this but I know quite a few, and I just don’t get it. I mean, it looks weird to my eyes and one would think it would look weird to everyone but it doesn’t. So, one can’t automatically use that as a determining factor.

2. No punctuation at all but you know the next sentence is coming because the beginning word is capitalized. Once again, I know people who do this; just what are they teaching in school these days?

3. Sentences missing words to keep a coherent flow in meaning. Heck, that’s so common that even I notice that I do it every blue moon, probably because I type too fast. Your mind just seems to pop those words in there whether you typed them or not.

4. Because someone uses your name, you tend to believe it’s someone who’s actually reading the post and writing you something personal. However, knowing that people are paid to post comments to blogs and link back to other websites, these things suddenly become suspect, though they’re hard to discern.

See what I mean? None of these fits the qualification of comment idiocy that I’ve talked about before or pretty much any of the other comment issues I’ve seen before. Frankly, I’d have to admit that this is a conundrum because these people are able to bypass the GASP plugin and also bypass the Akismet spam filter easier.

Although it takes time, one thing I do is click on the link these people are leaving to see if the page it takes me to has writing as bad as what I’m seeing on the site. For instance, if English is the second language for some folks, the writing on their blog or website, if it’s also in English, will probably be just as bad; at least that’s what I’ve noticed. If it’s consistent then I kind of assume it’s probably legit. If not, then my mind says “spam” and I’ll “unapprove” the comment for a day. I do that to see if the person who wrote the comment will come back and wonder where their comment is, or will leave comments on other new posts I write.

When I’m not really sure… in those times I’ll leave the comment and I’ll comment on it to see what happens. I know people get notified when I respond to their comments because I’ve tested it so I figure it’s now become an experiment of sorts.

Yeah, some of these things take time, but I think it’s worth it to make my space legitimate across the board. What’s your thought? Oh yeah; couldn’t figure out what image to add to this post so this is a area of my office. lol

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

Strange Looking Spam

What is it with spam? Truthfully, I get the part about trying to get backlinks by almost any means necessary. But some of it is even confusing to me because it really makes no sense.

Over the past couple of weeks, in high volume no less, I’m getting stuff that looks like this:

Star2Pros – Get off the lower ladders…

[…This trackback notifies you of the usage of…]…


sarcodosis skin problems…

[…]the time to read or visit the content or sites


Effective Weight Loss Programs…

[…]below, are a few not really different sites than this one, but still the sites are absolutely worth checking out[…]…


1.) Home Security…

2.) […]here are some links to sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting[…]…


1.) Keys, locks and more…

2.) […]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[…]…


Weight Loss Secrets…

[…]even though the URLs we hyperlink beneath are completely not that similar to ours, we posit that they are worth visiting, so have a look[…]…


If I’m getting stuff like this, almost everyone else has to be getting this type of thing as well. My question is twofold. One, if I’m running the GASP Anti-Spambot program, doesn’t it mean this stuff is getting through because someone is deliberately doing it? And if so, who in their right mind would think that anyone who’s paying attention would look at this stuff and say “yeah, that looks legit, I think I’ll keep it around?

Here’s comment on the first question. I’m at the point now where I’m starting to think someone has come up with software to get around the plugin. I say that because I’ve always been under the impression that if someone didn’t check that box, nothing was getting through. I knew that some stuff would still end up in the Akismet spam filter, but I didn’t think it would get to voluminous so quickly, and it has, across all 4 of my blogs. I know Sire discovered that some nefarious folks are actually paying people to post blog comments, but I can’t believe anyone would pay someone to post junk like above.

Here’s my comment on the second question. I don’t think anyone really cares about the message so much as they care about seeing what they can get away with. With all of the messages above having the same style, it seems more possible that the set up of the message might have something to do with how it all gets through the plugin. I’m not technical enough to know how it could be related, but the proof is in the pudding (another saying I have no idea where it comes from).

The thing is that it gives the impression that it’s trackback spam, but it’s not. I’ve gone to a couple of the websites that end up being shown as the domain name and there’s never any mention of one’s website or blog post, thus it’s not that. Still, I’m trying the option GASP gives you in eliminating the ability of anyone to send trackbacks to your blog, just to test it for a couple of days. I don’t have much faith that it’ll stop, since I don’t think it’s related to trackbacks.

Man, these spam people are just so smart and creative, aren’t they? I guess we should be thankful that they’re not trying to figure out how to take money out of our bank accounts before it even gets there.

But we’re not. 🙁
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

Why You Need A Comment Policy

You know, ever since I added the GASP Anti-Spambot plugin a few weeks ago, the amount of spam this blog was getting dropped a lot. However, it hasn’t killed spam entirely. What seems to be coming now is a lot of one line messages that read like spam, and thus I treat them like spam. I figure that some of it are people who are thinking that they can just write any ol’ thing and I’ll let it pass; nope. However, I’m thinking some of it is automated to some degree; I just don’t know how they’re doing it.

I said I treated one line messages like spam; that’s from people who haven’t shown that they’re legitimate commenters on the blog yet. I have that in my comment policy, which is not only at the very top of this blog but listed right above the comment box on every single post. People who comment on blogs a lot and are going to write authentic comments definitely don’t have to worry about it, but for the others, I have no idea if they’re ever really coming back, so I don’t feel the same kind of loyalty to them.

I think it’s important to have a comment policy so people who come to your blog know what you expect. For instance, I really only have a couple of things in my comment policy. The first is that I need a legitimate name to call you. If you write a post and your name is a keyword phrase, but it’s not a bad comment, I reduce it all to the initials on the post. It looks ridiculous, but so be it. And I’ll refer to you either by those initials or by the first name in the email address if one is there. I stated the reason a long time ago in my post against fake commenter names. I don’t mind nicknames because it’s still something you may be known as.

The second is of course the one-line rule. I think that’s fair. After all, leaving a comment that says “nice post; I learned a lot” and nothing else could apply to almost anything. It doesn’t further the discussion and, well, just looks spammy, which it probably is. The big boys, who don’t moderate their comments, can play with that one; since I give dofollow links, I’ll handle it another way.

Anyway, if you expect certain things from people, you should let them know up front so there’s no surprise if you do something with their comment later on. Now that I think about it, I need to modify mine just a little bit more.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

Akismet Is, Well, Too Good?

The latest update to Akismet has been an interesting one. There are some changes that are apparent because of it, and one that’s kind of driving me nuts.

The first changes concern the extra notification on both comments and on spam comments. On the first, you see something telling you that they’ve approved the comment being there. That’s pretty obvious since the comment is there, so that seems redundant. If you make a change, such as sending a comment to spam or trash, it tells you what you did. That’s redundant as well since WordPress tells you that same thing. Oh yeah; it actually flagged a comment I wrote as needing to be moderated; that’s never happened before. And when I finish writing my comment, it tells me it’s approved it; interesting as well.

As it regards spam it tells you that it’s decided a post is spam. That’s obvious because it’s in the spam filter, and thus it’s redundant. And if you move it out of spam it tells you that you’ve moved it out of spam, which is redundant because WordPress tells you that as well. So, both of those moves were unneeded.

Here’s the biggie, though. Immediately after I upgraded on all 3 of my blogs, suddenly I had tons more spam. I was used to getting a lot of spam a day, but I could check in a 4 hour period and I might have between 15 to 20 spam messages; that was okay. Suddenly I was getting between 30 and 80 every hour; what the hey? And trying to be conscientious, I was looking through all of those messages, and out of 3 blogs I only found 2 comments that I thought were legit. Suddenly spam was an issue, and not because Akismet wasn’t working.

Where did all those messages suddenly come from? Freaked me out, to be sure. The first thing I did was go to the discussion tab under settings and change one of the parameters to close comments on all blogs more than 90 days old on all 3 blogs. But that troubled me because I don’t really mind getting legitimate comments on old posts. Then I realized I did have an option, and decided to go for it on two of my blogs.

I decided to go ahead and try the Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin to my other two blogs; I haven’t added it to this one. Most of you know it adds a little box for people to check to prove they’re not spammers. Frankly, I don’t get as many comments on those two blogs, and they both seemed to be getting way too many spam messages. I added it, then waited an hour and checked both. All that spam… gone. Whew!

So why haven’t I added it onto this one yet? Strangely enough, it’s because I’m actually on this blog most of the day, or at least have the administrative area open. I check it often, and thus it’s easier for me to keep up with all the spam. For now, I can still deal with it all. But I’m not going to be hesitant to add it if things get out of hand. It does work well, which I figured it might. I don’t want to add something extra that might impede comments, but one sometimes has to pick their battles.

Update – As of the 12/17 update, it looks like Akismet has removed those notifications from the comments area; thank goodness! I haven’t noticed a change in spam just yet, but I’m going to be monitoring my other sites to see what goes on.


HOLIDAY '10 COUPON- Save 10% with PREHOL10

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell