Spam Comments: Why Are They Bad & How to Identify Them

 

I'm sure every blogger reading this post has gotten spam on their site at some point.  We know to hate it.  We know to get rid of it.  And many of us several plugins to decrease the amount of spam we get.  In my own quest to fight spam, I found myself often asking: is this comment spam? What makes it spam? And if I don't mark it as spam–what happens to it? What happens to my site?!

 

Spam is a comment on your site that tries to utilize your comment field as a means of increase their SEO (search engine optimization).  Typically you'd find a comment that looks something like:

Name: VEGAN UNICORN MEAT!!
Website: www.vegan-unicorn-meat-is-delicious.net
Email: [email protected]

Comment: EAT RARE DELICIOUS VEGAN UNICORN MEAT! LOTS OF IRON & PROTEIN!!!

While annoying, yes, and irrelevant, absolutely– you wonder, what's the actual HARM of spam if it gets through?


Nowadays?  Nothing.


There's not a single post past 2009 that indicates why spam is bad on a blog.  Within the last several years, many of the major publishing platforms–Blogger, WordPress, have automatically added a ref=”nofollow” code to comments. This means that unless it is manually changed, that any spammer leaving comments will not gain SEO perks from leaving a comment on your site.

 

Basically, spam comments now are just annoying and irrelevant.  They're commenting on every site in hopes of finding one that doesn't have that ref=”nofollow” code attached to their comment form or that people will at least click on their comments.  In the past though, Google would penalize people's pageranks (like they do now) for abusing SEO practices.  Too many spam comments could hurt your site, but this seems to be less the case now.

 

How to Tell If a Comment's Spam

Lemme tell you, internet marketers are getting SNEAKY.

 

Sometimes I'll find a comment that will come through WordPress, approved as a legitimate comment.  But closer looks at it will show that they're spam– pure and simple.  Tricky spam might look like this:

Name: Crystal
Website: omgveganunicornfur.com
Email: [email protected]

Comment: This article is really interesting! I find that vegan unicorn fur is a natural, sustainable alternative to wearing real fur.  No unicorns were harmed in the making of vegan unicorn fur, and the unicorns have a blast growing out their fur for clothing!

You look at it and think– that's a person's name!  That's an insightful comment!  But… then there's that link to some sketchy and weird site.  Is it spam? In the past I've always marked it as such, just to be safe.  When questioning this kind of spam, I found a great little resource on a forum that offered this suggestion:

Good comment: One that provides value and does not use keyword in the name field
Bad comment: Provides little or no value. largely associated with keywords in name field

 

Are you diligent about rejecting spam? Do you let the useful and relevant ones slip through the cracks?  How do you feel as a blogger when you see spam in a blogger's comments–does it impact your perception of the site?

 

Image by Thomas Hawk.

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16 Responses

  1. Jamie

    If you use WordPress, just enabling akismet (the plugin) will take care of the vast majority of spam.

    Reply
  2. Style Every Day

    Thanks for covering this topic, Ashe! I’m finding that as traffic on my blog slowing grows, my spam grows exponentially!

    I use Askimet and it generally catches everything. Every once in awhile one slips through, and unfortuntely, every once in awhile a good comment gets stuck in spam. I used to go through my spam filter one by one to make sure I don’t miss anyone, but I now get 100+ every few days so I quit doing that.

    Any tips for reducing the amount of spam or will I forever be stuck with a busy spam filter?

    Reply
    • Ashe Mischief @ Dramatis Personae

      I’ve got a mixed answer for you!

      According to the web guy who has been helping me wtih my site– using multiple plugins that have the same duty can cause issues with them conflicting with each other and using up your site’s memory.

      That being said, I’ve used Akismet, Bad Behavior, and Growmap Anti-Spam Plugin (GASP) together– its’ the one that forces you to check the box indicating you’re not a spammer. When I ran all 3, I had a GREAT reduction in spam– and typically would have less than 5 in my queue each day. Maybe try running Akismet and GASP though?

      Reply
  3. Eli

    Ever since using Disqus comments, it stopped being a huge problem. I automatically detects spam comments too. The old blogger was the worst!

    Reply
  4. WendyB

    I get SO much spam. Askimet segregates most of the obvious stuff, but I get more and more “smart” spam. Once in a while, I’ve gotten a comment that’s so intelligent that I post it — but only after stripping off the URL 😉

    Reply
  5. lisa

    Great topic, Ashe! I’ve often looked at a spam comment and wondered whether I should delete it because even though the URL is sketchy, the comment is meaningful and actually relevant to the post. I like Wendy’s idea of posting the comment and stripping the URL.

    Reply
  6. Thomas

    I am here as I watch blogs to learn and seeing blog talent for a project that I am working on. As a blogger I have no talent. 🙂 The blogs that are the most meaningful to me at those that the blogger personally approves the comments. As a reader I do not want to wade through spam either. Granted it is more work, but there is a real difference in the quality of blogs. I have followed a couple for over a year now and the ones that have created a personal quality are the ones I am excited about visiting. All of blogs I really like personally moderate their comments.

    Reply
  7. Zhenya H

    I always get spam pinbacks from some weird website on wordpress. It’s really annoying! But it’s all easily fixed when you just hit delete! That’s why I like WP!

    Reply
  8. Samantha

    Im new and getting about 20 spam responses at the moment but because I wasnt sure Ive just deleted them all.

    There was 1 comment I thought didnt look like spam so I checked their website to see if it existed, is that the done thing or just a waste of my time?

    Reply
    • Ashe

      Girl, I wish I knew! Especially when they don’t have links in the comments, too. I don’t get those and just delete them in the event I’m missing something.

      Reply
  9. Angeline

    Interesting post! If it makes it past the spam filter, I’ll usually delete it anyway. I’m on regular ol’ Blogger and it’s really not a problem…in about a year and a half for this blog I’ve gotten maybe 5 spam comments total.

    Reply
  10. My Style Canvas

    My blog doesn’t have that huge of a following yet so regular spam isn’t my problem as much as legitimate but spammy (essentially self-serving) comments.

    Example: Great blog!
    Follow me on Twitter.
    Follow me on Bloglovin.
    Follow me on Lookbooks.

    http://www.awesome fashion blog.com
    http://www.awesome fashion blog.com
    http://www.awesome fashion blog.com

    I feel this is pretty rude because it’s so obviously not genuine, but it seems like so many fashion bloggers do it!

    Reply
  11. Joseph

    I have come to the conclusion that; spam happens and I might as well get used to it.

    I am thinking about putting this blog link next to my comment system for those spam sending foot soldiers to hopefully realise that their existence is currently meaningless.

    In the mean time, I am going to edit the comments of the shite URL links the spammers leave and then leave the remaining nice comment standing.

    Reply