How to Recognize Spam Blog Comments - dummies

How to Recognize Spam Blog Comments

By Amy Lupold Bair, Susannah Gardner

Spam! It’s everywhere, lurking in your e-mail inbox, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting click. It also hangs out on your blog, hiding in the comments — you might never escape it! Fortunately, you can slow the stream of spam messages and even block most of them from appearing on your blog.

The first time you see a spam comment on your blog, you might not recognize it. Long ago, you could easily pick out the spam posts on blogs: They consisted of incomprehensible text, inappropriate images, and links to pornographic websites.

But while the blogs evolved, so did the spammers, and today’s spam comments might look like anything from a sincere compliment to a request for more information. This is an example of a spam comment that was left on a blog.

A spam comment in a blog post.

You — your brain and eyes — protect your blog from the outside world. If something looks suspicious to you, check it out so that you can protect yourself, your readers, and your search engine ranking.

Because you’re the first line of defense, you need to get a feel for the comments that are legitimately posted on your site. Take some time to see what your community is like. If your blog community needs time to grow, venture out onto other blogs and see what people are saying:

  • Look at real comments and see how they’re written.

  • Get involved and add your own commentary to other blogs. The more experience you have at posting comments, the better you can identify the spam on your site.

When you take the time to read real comments, you can more easily spot the spam.

Spammers often find your blog through search engines. Rather than leave comments on your newest content, they are more likely to land on a popular post from the past. See a new comment on an old post? That’s your first clue that it may be from a spammer!

Spam has certain styles. Spammers attempt to weasel into your site by looking as though they have personal or generally harmless content. Sometimes you can’t tell a legitimate comment that has poor grammar and spelling from a spam comment that has similar attributes.

Spammers count on this confusion. You may find sorting the wheat from the chaff a tricky bit of business, but by following a few tips, you can get through the spam onslaught with as little frustration as possible. Examine the following types of comments with skepticism:

  • Personalized and customized messages: A real human being creates this type of spam, as opposed to an automated bit of programming. Usually a human being, paid by a spam company, visits your blog, reads a few posts and a few comments, and then customizes messages that fit in with the tone and style of the site.

    Often, the spammers even direct these messages to you by name. You can easily miss these messages when you’re watching for spam comments.

    If the link that’s included with a comment isn’t related to the subject of the comment or the topics on your blog, the comment is suspect no matter how on-topic it might seem.

  • Generic commentary or questions: The generic message spam either requests that you do something or makes a very nonspecific remark. You often see comments such as , , , , or .

  • Flattery: Finally, spammers use flattery. Spammers may send comments such as or . As a general rule, regard these kinds of brief praise with suspicion (well, unless your blog really is awesome, of course!). Real fans usually elaborate more about what they like about your writing.

In general, a spam comment includes a link, usually to an advertising website or a site designed to look like a blog. The spammers hope that you or your blog visitors click the link, giving those spammers a traffic boost and potentially allowing them to collect a fee based on the number of times users visit the site or click a link. Look closely at comments that include links.

Many comment spammers are annoyingly ingenious about finding ways to disguise their messages. (Some aren’t — you can easily recognize as spam the comments about Viagra or the ones that contain gibberish.) But the generic nature of comments gives them away. Keep your wits about you so that you can identify new trends and formats in comment spam techniques when they appear.

Don’t just leave comment spam on your blog and let your readers sort through the mess. Spam attracts spam: If you don’t remove these kinds of comments, you actually end up with more spam on your site. And when your readers click the spam links, spammers realize that you’re not tending your blog, so they flock to it. Delete your spam. Your readers will thank you.

Unfortunately, spam isn’t the only unwanted comment material you might deal with. Some of your legitimate commenters may use language that you don’t want on your blog or post personal, offensive flames (or attacks) aimed at you or other readers. You’re just as entitled to remove this kind of comment as you are to remove spam.