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What is Comment Spam?

Comment spam is a fact of life for blogs and sites with an open door policy for comments and interaction. Comment spam arrives on your website in two main ways. Occasionally by hand posting of time-wasting idiots who post nonsense for fun or try to get links to their site by posting links to their site everywhere, but more often by robots, little Internet programs that crawl around looking for websites with comments and posting links to online gambling and medications for improving your sex life or extending your life.

Here are some examples.

Pitiful Time Wasters
The pitiful time wasters are the people, often kids, who have nothing better to do but search the Internet for random subjects and then post comments like “Your site sucks”, “f**k you”, “This is such a stupid waste of time”, “Why don’t you have pictures of naked women?”, and my personal favorite, “You don’t have what I’m looking for. I hate you.” You cannot easily control these, but for the most part, WordPress and most blogging and CMS tools tend to spot these using sophisticated filtering and stop them or hold them for moderation, especially if it the comment spam includes swear words.
Link Needers
The web is built on links. Search engines increase page ranking dependent upon who you link to but mostly who links to you. People try all kinds of tricks to get their website to the top of the search engine rankings, and link needers are coming after you. By posting a link to their site on your site’s comments, they have bypassed the traditional kind request for a link to their site and forced one upon you. Sometimes they are tricky and try to make the comment match the content, but you can usually tell the difference.
Comment Spam Robots
Comment spam robots are the worst of the comment spam criminals. These are software robots that crawl around the Internet looking for open comments. When they find them, they hook in and start leaving comments all over your site about whatever they are dishing out, usually drugs, medicines, male enhancements, vitamins, gambling, and porn. Their comment spam rarely arrives alone but hits multiple posts throughout your site with the same comment, or a slight variation on a theme. WordPress and other blogging and CMS developers work hard to fight comment spam robots off, protecting their users. It gets harder and harder as people keep designing smarter detection avoiding programs, but the developers usually keep a step ahead of these criminal time wasters.
Sneaky Comment Spammers
The sneaky comment spammers are the ones you really have to look for. They require more work to determine if they are legitimate. These are the nice comment spammers. They say things like:

  • “I really like your site, keep up the good work.”
  • “This is a beautiful site.”
  • “It looks like you worked hard to create this site. Good work.”
  • “I like what you have to say. I’m going to tell my friends.”
  • “This is really good information. I’m going to mark it as a favorite.”

When these first started showing up, I preened. I even pointed them out to my husband with pride. Then I learned that these were NOT legitimate but creepy comment spam robots that were lying and creating links to their sites. Some investigation found that some of these links were indeed hooking up with pharmacy and gambling sites. DAMN! These are the sneaky comment spammers! More and more comment spam prevention tools help to eliminate these, but if you get a lot of “nice comments” within a day or two across many posts – you’ve been hit by a sneaky comment spammer.

Stay tuned for A Day in the Life of a Paranoid Website Administrator, where I talk about what it’s like being not only a paranoid website administrator, but a comment watcher. We’ll also talk about what you can do to tackle and fight back against comment spam.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen

15 Comments

  1. Posted August 5, 2006 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    “but creepy comment spam robots that were lying and creating links to their sites”

    Hi Lorelle, I don’t think that the ‘bots have any feelings. They are just programs. :)
    Cheers

  2. Posted August 5, 2006 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    They were lying to me about how wonderful my blog was. ;-)

  3. Posted October 17, 2006 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    It’s a good thing to talk about comment spam, but it would be nice to see you talk about ping abuse at the same time. I keep hearing WordPress’s auto ping has a tendency to PO ping sites, but can’t find anything other than SEO sales men talking about it. Is it a myth generated by SEOs?

  4. Posted March 28, 2007 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    bad behaviour + akismet do the job for stopping this comment spam.

    forget about captcha!

  5. Posted April 19, 2007 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I really like your site, keep up the good work. Kidding!

    Great article on the many ways spammers try to get their links into blogs. I run my own blog and will be keeping a look out for the techniques you described. Hard to believe that there is sophisticated enough software out there to get past the “enter the code you see to the right” feature.

    Thanks again,
    Ashley

  6. Posted January 27, 2008 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Comment Spam, and Email spam are big problems. It a sad comment on society, but all forms of communication will eventually be target for spam. Why? Because it pays. People click on link in email spam, people get links to their sites with comment spam.

  7. TheAutoRider
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    I like your topic, you help me on doing my research about Link Building Strategies and I will definitely include this. I guess those spammers have no choice but to “spam” because they are being paid for doing that thing..

  8. Posted September 8, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m still waiting for a legitimate comment, even telling me the truth.. like my site sucks lol… just so I can mark the special event on my calendar! I found this blog site after searching for “Who’s behind spam?” using google. Seems I cannot refine my search query for better results… so I resorted to asking a basic question.

  9. Hasan
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    One more questions. is it included in comment spam too for people who comment on blog and they put their keyword link by inserting a link in the body of comment? please note that the whole comment is match with the post. But the commenter cleverly put their link (with keyword of course) and combine it together with other words and make it into a good quality comment. What’s your opinion on this? Is it a comment spam or not? This type of comment often seen in a dofollow blog with allowed html tags on the comment body field.
    (sorry if my english is not good. this is not spam, i am from Indonesia)
    Thank you very much if you answer this question.

  10. Posted July 6, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    See How NOT to Comment on Comments and Editing Your Blog Comments. Trust me, comments aren’t all they are cracked up to be any more. Respect the quality ones, and remove all trash. Thanks.

  11. portsomewhere
    Posted December 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Just not nice at all! I think I just got my first, “sneaky comment spammer!” It’s so sad, because technically he’d be my first site comment. :( Thanks for helping me figure out what was going on when my commentator ended up in my spam box. Dang Dang!

  12. Elijah
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    I recommand Comment SPAM Wiper. It offers all the protection you need (comment, trackback, pingback, etc.).

    • Posted February 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      I don’t. I recommend Akismet. I have never found anything better. They are all temporary fixes and Akismet is crowd-sourced world-wide coverage and protection.

  13. Amanda
    Posted November 1, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    So I’m admittedly a novice at this and was about to sign my comment. In trying to learn how to increase traffic to my site I stumbled upon your post and realized I might be totally off base. What is the socially acceptable way to increase links to my page, blog, or storefront? I really hate annoying people, but I’m unsure of how this works. Any advice or articles you could recommend?

    • Posted November 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Signing your comments doesn’t help increase your traffic. What helps increasing your traffic is targeting like-minded individuals that want what you have to offer. You have to go where they are. There are many ways to do this, and it sounds like you’ve been listening to the old techniques of SEO marketing, which are not effective today.

      Develop content that serves your demographics, find where they are, get involved with their activities and support them for exposure, and continue to develop content that serves your community. I’ve written on this extensively on this site, so do a little search and you’ll find lots of tips and info on this.

      The only way to do this is organically. Begging doesn’t work online.


41 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] WordPress does an amazing job battling comment spam, reinforced with a couple powerful comment spam fighting WordPress Plugins if you need them. But the comment spammers are always looking for an angle to get in and make your life miserable. [...]

  2. [...] With WordPress 1.5, without any plugins, comment spam dropped almost to nil. There were maybe 5 comment spams a week. Remember, these include the occasional idiot time waster trying to link my site to theirs or just posting stupid stuff, comment spam that can easily get through most spam catching software. I have a top page ranking site with over 700 articles. That kind of popularity and visibility attracts a lot of freaks, whackos, and time wasters. Now, almost nothing. Comment spam, for the most part, is controlled and controllable. [...]

  3. [...] I bring it to your attention for several reasons. First, it was caught and marked for moderation because enough of the comment spam was clever enough to look, at first, sincere. Second, it was caught because enough of the comment spam didn’t make sense and looked suspicious, and WordPress caught it. Third, it’s a new trend in targetted “smarter” comment spam, and yes, WordPress caught it. Stopped it in its tracks before it could clutter up my blog. [...]

  4. [...] When was the last time you did some checking on the IP address of your comments? I only check when I’m not sure if the comment is spam or not, and comment spammers can say some nice things, making the decision difficult. [...]

  5. [...] After a couple of years of fairly simple, easy-to-kill comment spam bots, it appears that the web is under assault by a particularly vicious new criminal spam-bot. A friend of mine claims that in order to figure something out, outwit or beat something, you have to be 6% smarter. Well, folks, this new spam-bot appears to be 6% smarter than most current comment spam catchers. [...]

  6. [...] Comment spammers are on the loose again, coming up with more inventive ways to distract us from their spamming comments, while they think they are increasing their page rank in search engines by forcing you to link to their websites with their comment spam links. [...]

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  14. [...] This is not a blogging challenge about comment spamming. This is about learning to comment, practicing comments, and letting the world know about who you are, what you think, and that you are a fellow blogger with something to say. [...]

  15. [...] Comment spammers have used news bits, text from books, quotes, nice words about you and your blog, and a variety of text to incorporate their links and get you to think that what they are saying is a legitimate comment when it is really evil link stuffed comment spam. [...]

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  17. [...] It appears that they are using “real people” (I assume) to manually comment spam genealogy blogs with “helpful” tips recommending World Vital Records and their newsletters. I also assume these people are being paid. I’ve now deleted 5 comment spams from them. That is one too many for me. [...]

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  22. [...] robot yang sering  memberikan komentar bernuansa  spam ini,  Lorelle VanFossen menjelaskan sebagai berikut [...]

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  34. […] crowd-sourcing models. The user does not delete the comment spam, just marks it as spam and the comment spam information is added to a huge database which monitors and tracks comment spam from WordPress sites […]

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  41. […] comments almost flawlessly. Other blogging platforms do not offer such assistance. Additionally, spam comments can sometimes slip through the WordPress cracks. If you are a new blogger who can not yet identify […]

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