Why should blog spammers get a free lunch?

your chums are fighting why aren’t you


Although spam has been one of the scourges of the internet for several years, most spam filters are now good enough for you not to have to worry (or even think) about it.  That’s certainly true of Gmail.  Spam comments on blogs, however, are a very different matter.

All bloggers must be hit by this menace – I know I am.  Most of us make use of word verification technology to help prevent spam attacks from bots but this does nothing to stop somebody sitting in India who’s being paid to repeatedly add spam comments to a blog post for SEO purposes.  For whatever reason, today’s been a particularly bad one on Law Actually; they’ve been spamming the s**t out of me.

Unless and until the spam filter functionality which blogspot recently started featuring gets a lot better, the only effective way of combating it is a very manual approach - by deleting the offending comments.  That’s not great, but doing nothing is definitely not an option.

I’ve always regarded a blog as more of a dynamic conversational thing compared to a static webpage, so the readers’ comments are just as valuable as the post itself.  Rather than me having to approve each and every comment before it goes live on Law Actually, I just make commenters jump through the word verification hoop and once done, their contribution appears for the world to see.  That way, it’s a less stilted, more real-time flow of ideas. 

But every bloggers secret weapon should be email alerts. I get an alert every time a new comment is made on any of my posts and I’ll delete any I regard as spam immediately.  Sometimes, it’s an endless battle but as fast as these irksome spammers hit on me, I delete their false and link-ridden ‘comments’. 

In spite of the warm glow of victory having momentarily defeated a spammer, blog comment spam really winds me up.  Why should bloggers give away a valuable commodity to the parasitic businesses who want to freeload on our respective pageranks as a means of boosting their own Google rankings?  I’ve no objection to those who are willing to pay for it, but I realise that some bloggers feel that monetising their blogs somehow sullies them.  I’m less concerned about that; my overriding feeling is that I simply hate people who are always looking for something for free.

The attempts of some spammers to segue their seedy links into the post topic are hilarious, but most are just offensive through their sheer stupidity.  Comments to a blog post are really not the place to ‘thank me for sharing’ followed by whatever random link(s) the spammer is touting.  Nor are they the place to tell the world that XXXX are the best personal injury lawyers in [insert name of town/city/locale].  And if you offer cheap and fast conveyancing, I really don’t want to hear about it in the comments section on a blog.

But there’s another reason why all bloggers should make a concerted effort to combat the scourge of spam comments.  There’s nothing more depressing than seeing a blog plastered with text and links filling up half of the comments on any post.   It makes it look cheap, uncared for and with a dirty habit.  It’s the blogging equivalent of having track marks up your forearm.  Surely you wouldn’t want that for your blog? 

So please, learned blawggers of the ‘sphere, if you haven’t already set up en email alert for comments, do so now, and as far as spam comments are concerned, operate a shoot-to-kill policy.

Together we can kick these spammers where it hurts!

Comments

  1. Being fairly low ranked in the blogsphere, I've yet to become a victim to this atrocity...

    Is it odd that I actually aspire to my first blog spam comment? I've made it the! I'm popular enough to spam! :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Careful what you wish for! :p

    Great to see you back in the 'sphere btw! Are you back with us for good now? :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the re-welcome! :D

    Yes, I'm going to try and do daily blog updates, I sort of fell out of habit at the start (even though the habit was a minor one, admittedly!) when the BVC began to get ontop of me.

    I've been tweeting but not blogging. Need to step up the blogging!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Why don't yuo get a self-hosted solution of say Wordpress 3?

    You can then add plugin and htaccess (on Apache etc.) protection to get rid of spam comments.

    Actually, there is one really neat trick. I tried it and had no spam at all. There is a file called "wp-comments-post.php" just rename that to something unique i.e. "law-actually-comments.php" and create a new file called "wp-comments-post.php" and leave it blank.

    You have to edit a small bit of HTML code where submitting a comment then ignores the form value (of the blank file) and loads the other instead.

    This also works great as many spam bots don't even visit your page, they load the "wp-comments-post.php" file directly up to 30 times injecting spam comments per each "visit".

    The only downside is if you do an upgrade you will need to do this all again as the blank file will be overwritten but its much easier than dealing with the spam.

    Hope this helps! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Work Programme - talk about irony. ;-) I've deleted and re-posted your comment *without* the link! :p

    AP - I've re-subscribed to your RSS feed so I can catch up with all of your nuggets of blogging wisdom! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well if AP is going to start blogging again I will promise to spam him.

    Mr Chang from the local Chinese did post on my blog for a while because I said he had prawn balls, but he seems to have calmed down a bit now.

    Swiss

    ReplyDelete
  7. Swizz, isn't Chinese spam just the worst?! Still, Google Chrome will offer to translate it for you, so it's not as bad as it once was, I guess! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Comment spam is the bane of my life. I had a particularly bad spate where comment spam even managed to bypass my anti-spam plugin, which is called Akismet.

    If Blogger supports this, I'd suggest closing comments on posts that are older than X amount of days. This feature got enabled in the core feature set of WordPress and whilst I have in the past kept comments open on all posts, you're really leaving yourself wide open.

    One day WordPress disabled comments on any post older than 14 days, and I've simply left the settings intact. I believe this has reduced my blog's attractiveness to spam bloggers.

    I always have scope in the future to tweak these settings.

    P.S. because I'm paranoid, I get sent an email when anyone comments anyway! Plus, a comment author must have a previously approved comment if they want to appear immediately.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Adam: Yep - it's definitely a delicate balancing act. I want to leave the commenting avenues open as much as possible for broad discourse, but I won't want to be spammed stupid. Very tricky.

    I've looked at the blogger dashboard but I can't see any option for disabling comments older than X number of days. :-(

    Perhaps I'm just missing it, though. Anyone know if such a feature exists?

    Maybe I'll suggest it to Google, if not. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. You're all just showing off about your spam comments now aren't you? You just want to rub it in! I see your games! :p

    ReplyDelete
  11. I was just thinking about this today (I would plug Wordpress 3, but someone beat me to it). Some of the comments are just so funny - thanking me for my excellent post! So knowledgeable! I'll be subscribing! or offering low cost pharmaceuticals. And none of them are done grammatically. I think if I get one that is well written, I may let it stand in the hopes it'll encourage better quality spam.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I really love your post and will be recommending it to my readers. Keep up the great work. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I share the sentiments of my blogging colleagues in stating that I, too, hate, loathe and otherwise generally DETEST spam, but, oddly, I never have a problem with it turning up on my blog - this may be because I have comment moderation, but even when I first started blogging and was more open in comment it still wasnt as much of a problem as it is for you, Michael, but then you are perhaps more generous than I am in keeping comments open to all.

    My BIG bugbear is spam mail - I get TONS of rubbish mails asking if they can advertise on my blog so I've posted a little link on there declaring myself to be ad free in the hopes that this will deter the rotters once and for all!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. EH – I know what you mean. Discerning blawgs should only be plagued by high-quality, grammatically correct spam comments!

    Nick - Thanks for commenting… you’re already on my blogroll. :-)

    Minxy – you should disable your email address which is showing on your profile page in the blogger dashboard. That’ll stop ‘em. But surely the advertising requests are better than countless emails about cheap watches, cut price Viagra and interest free loans? ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Disabling my email would be a good idea, but then how would people get in touch if they wanted to? Ho Hum. I shall have to grin and bear the rubbish emails, viagra and all!

    ReplyDelete

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