Spam or Not Spam?

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No-spam I have written a couple of times about spam comments that fall into a gray area between legitimate comments and obviously automated junk.  Akismet seems to get most of the automated stuff, but because these gray area comments are usually put up by a real person, they usually slip through.  We have wondered why someone would go to the trouble of making a (somewhat) relevant comment just for a link to their site.  It seems like a lot of work for little reward, but I get a fair amount of these comments here on this site.  An example that I have left up, (for now), is on this post.  Tom, (which in this case seems to be a real name), has made a relevant comment there, and on another post, in order to get a link to his site, a site that is nothing more than a store selling questionable supplements as part of what seems to be a multilevel marketing scheme.

The problem with these comments as I see it is in several areas.  The first is that since he is looking for nothing more than free advertising for his products, should he be allowed to remain linked from here?  His comment is OK, but what would you do about his links?  Another is that my experience is that if you let someone like that keep a couple of comments linked back to their site, they decide to come back and put up more comments, many of which are of more questionable value.  I let a couple of comments stay from one person a few weeks ago and they came back one night and left over 20 more.  All were very weak and put up with the sole intent of getting a link to their online store.  I have also heard that there are sites that actually tutor people on doing this and that provide lists of do follow blogs and blogs that have the Comment Luv plugin installed.  There is even a name for these comments, “pseudo spam”.

I suppose the fair approach is to take each comment on its own.  If the comment has valuable and relevant content, I could let it stay even if its only purpose is to get free advertising.  In some cases, I have let the comment stand, but deleted the links.  In some cases it can be difficult to determine the legitimacy of the comment, especially if the commentator’s native language is something other than English.  This approach also gets very cumbersome and subjective and sometimes opens us bloggers up to indignant claims that we are being unfair.  Yes, I have even received a few irate emails from people whose trashy comments were deleted, or whose links were removed.

So the question is what to do, or what would you do.  I know Steve has grappled with this issue, even putting up a post called “Spam My Blog – Win a Free Link”, poking fun at the spammers.  Have any other readers dealt with this problem?  Don’t be afraid to give your opinion…. after all you do get a free link for your comment!  😉

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Will Sig
1 JD at I Do Things

I love oxycontin!

OK, I am not a very good spammer. I get these gray-area comments fairly often, and I usually just delete them. I never thought about leaving them in but deleting the links. That’s actually a good compromise. I’ve also never gotten angry emails from people whose comments I’ve deleted. If I ever do — so what. It’s my blog and I can do what I want regarding comments. But I hate to be too hasty in deleting comments, because I want to be fair. Sometimes someone from a dodgy site may really be making a legitimate comment. It can be hard to call.
.-= JD at I Do Things´s last blog ..I Will Be Cremated so you don’t have to be =-.

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2 Anna

Hey Will I am here for my free link, lol. I never thought of that, hope you don’t think I am spamming you. You tell me and I will take it easy, lol. To comment on your post, unfortunately I dealt with this couple of times, long time ago when I started to blog, I was excited about my first visitor, yet to find out that he was just posting spam, as every post was the same, and he posted the same on some other blogs, lol. I also get some crazy comments or messages in blogcatalog, like ‘hey I visited your blog, come and visit mine’, or the best one is ‘I clicked on your google ad, come and do the same’, lol. Some people have nerve, lol. Anna 🙂
.-= Anna´s last blog ..Digital Postcard Series: Wonders of the McKenzie Marsh, Aurora Marshland =-.

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3 Will

Hi JD! Maybe I should post a couple of the emails I got. Very interesting, and nervy! Whenever I see the title of that post I think about how you usually actually do things so we don’t have to and am so glad that does not say “I Got Cremated So You Won’t Have To”. Maybe that would have been a good post to hold in reserve just in case. Talk about going out with a viral bang! Oh my, I am so twisted tonight… Thanks for your comment and keep on doing the things we are all too timid to do ourselves.

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4 Will

Hey Anna, you are the opposite of spam. In fact you may be the anti-spam herself! Not only are you at the top of the comment list, but any one of those comments would be missed if it were not here.

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5 Anne

Guess I can’t let this opportunity just pass by … 🙂
I find that most blogs get sort of “irrelevant” comments. In my view it is just a friend’s network, trying to support each other and also let each other know that somebody actually reads what you are writing.
You can easily spot the spam by the kind of link you get. Of course you don’t want to link to stuff you really do not feel good about …
I did not even know you can delete the link, but leave the comment … 🙂

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6 Wilson Pon

Will, I remembered that I read a post before and the blogpost’s title is “To Spam or not to Spam”. Inside the post, the author listed out the advantages and disadvantages or being spammed by the nasty spammers! After that, I started to realize that we should always activated the “Akimset” feature!

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7 isabella mori (

i find spammers fascinating; would love to talk to some of them. and yes, there are a wide variety of them.

the questionable comments – i cannot know why they leave comments. is it only because of the links? but then lots of people comment because of the links. who am i to say who is “legitimate” and who isn’t? i take them one by one – after putting them through akismet and captcha, of course. if their link goes to a site i object to, i delete it.
.-= isabella mori (@moritherapy)´s last blog ..blog post #1000: possible dreams =-.

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8 isabella mori (

i find spammers fascinating; would love to talk to some of them. and yes, there are a wide variety of them.

the questionable comments – i cannot know why they leave comments. is it only because of the links? but then lots of people comment because of the links. who am i to say who is “legitimate” and who isn’t? i take them one by one – after putting them through akismet and captcha, of course. if their link goes to a site i object to, i delete it.
.-= isabella mori (@moritherapy)´s last blog ..blog post #1000: possible dreams =-.

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9 Tom

Hey Will, seeing as I was the ‘feature’ of your post i thought i’d leave a comment (although this time without a link!).

I actually enjoy reading your blog and have been reading your posts for a while but only recently started commenting, however I am also promoting my site (of which the supplements are not questionable and my story on the site is 100% honest). I don’t see it as a problem for me to leave a post (using my real name) which includes a link back to my site.

You get a relevant comment and regular visitor and I get a link back to my site – the way I see it we both win, however I’m quite happy to stop commenting if you would prefer….

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10 Bob

Cool Tom came back, I agree with Tom. I don’t get that many but the few I do get I don’t delete as long as there are no swears, or link you to a site that goes nuts with pop ups, had to delete a couple of those, just a policy of mine.
.-= Bob´s last blog ..Shanghai…The Solar Eclipse =-.

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11 Anna

Thanks Will! You are too kind.
Anna 🙂
.-= Anna´s last blog ..Digital Postcard Series: Wonders of the McKenzie Marsh, Aurora Marshland =-.

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12 Will

Hey Tom – I don’t really disagree with what you say. I guess you just had the bad fortune to be the last one to leave a link to a site selling supplements before I wrote the post. You are actually not the best example of what I am conflicted on here, but you do somewhat fit the profile. Your comments are indeed good and valid, and you do use your real name. So that alone gives you more legitimacy than 99% of these types of comments I get. I will have to take another, longer look at your site to see if my first impression was incorrect. I remember seeing nothing but products for sale, many of which, in my admittedly non-professional opinion are unnecessary for good health. There was also at least one prominent link to “Become a Distributor”. That is always a big red flag to me. Maybe I am wrong in your case. I am willing to admit that possibility and take another look.

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13 Will

Hey Bob – Thanks for your input. Unfortunately I do get a lot of these, (probably 15 or 20 a week on average). Most I would never use as an example because I would never want to send someone to their site even just to look. Tom’s was actually a very mild version and maybe I was being too judgmental of his site. The link is still there for anyone that wants to look and see what they think.

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14 Will

You are welcome Anna. I don’t know if I am really that kind, but I do state the truth and give credit where credit is due! Tonight I am trying to catch up on comments and emails as we have been camping. I have not had access to the computer for a week, no posts, no comments, no emails. It was a nice break, but now I am in too deep to think I will ever catch up!

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15 Steve

hi Will,
I just noticed that you end your post by offering a “fee” link:
“after all you do get a fee link for your comment!”

Was this a test to see if people are paying attention? Is this a Freudian slip? IE. nothing in life is really free, but involves a fee of some kind or another. Or am I over-analyzing this?

~ Steve, the over-analyzing trade show guru

PS. Thanks for referencing my blog. I am honored. 🙂
.-= Steve´s last blog ..According to Chuck Norris =-.

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16 Will

Hey Steve – No slip. I left out the r just to see if you were paying attention. You passed! So now I can fix it. hehe.

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17 Luc J

A bit ironic that Tom, who at least appears to be a legitimate commentor, is the one who’s picked out as an example. Happened to me in school all the time 🙂

By the way, I see that you’re using Lucia’s Linky Love. Is that good at filtering out the spam?
.-= Luc J´s last blog ..Convertible Sofa from Bonbon – Doc XL Converts into Bunk Bed =-.

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18 Will

Yes I like Lucia’s Linky Love. But it is not really a spam filter per se, it filters out the do follow link on certain types of comments. So the gray area spammers may think they are getting a do follow link when they are really not.

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19 Will

Hi Keith – No I would not, especially with a comment that well thought out and relevant. I probably did not use the best examples in my posts on spam because the ones that are real spammy, I did not want to link to. It is not a question of being penalized by Google. It is more a matter of me just not liking comments such as “I really agree with you, spammers are bad”. Then they link to their site that sells nothing but Ugg boots.

You definitely are not in that category. You have a lot of ads and some are right in the middle of posts which is unusual, but you do have original content there also. Keep comments like the one above coming and you are very welcome.

Oh – on edit: The Ajax edit comments plugin is fantastic. I try to get every blog (Steve) I comment on (Steve) to use it. Steve?… inside joke.

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20 Keith

OK,
I started reading and commenting on other blogs as a way of promoting my own. Started is the operative word there. Just like I started my first website as a way to make some extra money for incidental expenses.

Now I read and comment on blogs because I enjoy it and feel that I can contribute. Not just content, but opinions and information as well. I like to think I am well thought and well spoken, too.

The Norman Rockwell fan site that I usually link to is a PR3 site. It already has a few links to it. Even one of the “authority sites” in the Norman Rockwell niche links to it (after I caught the owner borrowing one of my articles without acknowledgement.) The site carries adcents and a couple of affiliate programs to pay its way. It has over 350 pages of original content, handwritten by yours truly.

I do not think Big G or any other engine will penalize any blog or site for having a link out to that site.

I say all this as a preface. Would you consider me a spammer? I do not, but it is, after all, a subjective analysis. And I am definitely prejudiced in the matter.

I read this entire post and all the previous comments before attempting this post. I do not comment on blogs that do not welcome my input and insight.

So my question, Will, is this: Should I continue to read and possibly comment here? I like the discussions I have read here so far. But that choice is up to you. I do not stay where I am not welcome.

I will lurk and read until told otherwise. Either way, “Nice Blog, Man!” 😉

ps I also like that edit plugin!

.

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21 Stephen Settle

I get a lots of SPAM comments of people trying to sell viagra.
They are seriously annoying as my site is a kind of family safe site.

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