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Comment Spam Alert: I Read a Similar Article

Bloggers should now be familiar with the blog comment spam ruse of “X wrote an interesting post” to lure us into thinking this is a legitimate trackback, and now comes “I read a similar article also named…” to lure us into thinking this comment is legitimate.

As Tony Hung illustrated, the comment spammers use a technique that injects blog titles into comments. Since the spamming program can only handle a few variables, the comment spam phrasing is redundant, though the spammers are getting creative. Examples include:

  • I read similar article also named <Post Title Here>, and it was completely different. Personally, I agree with you more, because this article makes a little bit more sense for me
  • I couldn’t understand some parts of this article <Post Title Here>, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.
  • This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title <Post Title Here>. Thanks for informative article.
  • Hey! Nice blog posting about <Post Title Here>. I would have to agree with you on this one. I am going to look more into it. This Thursday I have time.
  • Superb write up talking about <Post Title Here>. Thoroughly love your blog.
  • You’ve got a nice post on <Post Title Here>. Really very nice to read and useful, thanks for the nice share.
  • Hello…I Googled for <spam keywords here>, but found your page about <Post Title Here> …and have to say thanks. nice read.
  • Hello webmaster…I Googled for <spam keywords>, but found your page about <Post Title Here>…and have to say thanks. nice read.
  • Hey!, been surfing the net for <spam keywords> and found your blog regarding <Post Title Here>. You really know your stuff! I?d like to see more posts here. Will definitely bookmark it and come back.

Yes, these are all blog comment spam trying to fool you.

Taking Away the Power of a Possible Comment Spam

Here are some keyword phrases I use to occasionally search through my blog comments, just in case I got careless and let one slip by, or after I’ve gotten enough duplications to recognize them as comment spam.

  • interesting post
  • wrote an interesting post
  • similar article
  • informative article
  • love your blog
  • very nice to read
  • informative

I know there are more, but those are the most common ones I’ve found. What about you?

Sure, you will find legitimate comments using these words, so they don’t work well as blacklist keywords or phrases, but I have added “wrote an interesting post” to my Comment Moderation List, which puts those comments with that phrase automatically into moderation. From there, I can go through and determine which are legit and which aren’t. So far, I haven’t found a single legitimate comment caught this way.

Kill the Link Benefits

Have a comment you aren’t quite sure is comment spam? Don’t just leave it there. Take away it’s power.

WordPress Comment SearchIf you find you have a comment that is suspicious, you have the right to delete it or edit it. By editing the blog comment, you can delete any links within it, even from within the comment form’s URL/address. You can change the commenter’s name, too, if the name words are too spammy. Blogs are content and you have the right to edit your blog comments and the information that appears on your blog.

If the comment is legitimate or not, it won’t matter because the whole reason for the benefit to spammers is now gone. The value of the comment as content, information, and feedback is left in tact. The potential spammy link is gone. You can relax. It’s that easy.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, the author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.

35 Comments

  1. Posted June 24, 2008 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Thanks, to be frank, I approved one or two of such comments lately.. won’t do it again…… thanks a lot :)

  2. Posted June 24, 2008 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Wow! I’m such an ignorant, desperate nube! I thought those comments were a bit fishy, but was just so pleased someone had noticed my site (blush) – anyway, thanks to you, I’m wiser now and have deleted them.

    I added you to my blogroll, because when I first started out with my blog, I found your information just about the most clearly written and helpful – and believe me, I did a load of searching. I hope to buy your book, although it isn’t available here yet as far as I can tell….maybe you will prove me wrong.

  3. Posted June 24, 2008 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    @ scatterbrain:

    Thank you and glad to help. The book is only available online, not in a store near you. :D

  4. Posted June 24, 2008 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Well, these tips make a lot of sense, but what if we’re not using WordPress? I’d like to in the future, but the thing is I don’t have the resources to get a server. I suppose that, barring the ability to edit out the offending parts of the comment, we just have to delete it? (Bad Blogger and its horrible commenting system…)

    Or should I just switch to Disqus? :D

  5. Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I thought I was doing pretty good about keeping the spammers out of the comments but found 2 older comments by doing the searches you recommend. Not only are you on my blogroll but I subscribe to your feed as well. I always learn something new! ~ Daryl

  6. Posted June 24, 2008 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    wow, ofcourse those spam bots are nasty. However I can’t help it to be amazed of their power. Can they do that already? Man >.> I always thought just a weird comment.
    I’ve seen these comments at my site, too. Odd, I thought, people are copying the comments, not very creative… So thanks for the notice.

  7. Posted June 24, 2008 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    That happened to me on my personal blog! It totally threw me off. “I read a similar article also titled, “What? It’s Friday Now?” and I have to agree with yours more.”

    I was writing about how exhausted I was from doing nothing and how I needed to finish the laundry!

  8. Posted June 24, 2008 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    @ Voyagerfan5761:

    What if you aren’t using WordPress? Comment spam is comment spam. Hopefully whatever you are using can use one of the very good comment spam fighters, like Akismet which works on some non-WordPress sites, shows you comments you can mark as comment spam.

    If you have no way of marking a comment as spam, then you are stuck deleting it. Just hit delete. You don’t want the comment, trust me, and while you can leave the comment but edit out the links, it is just a waste of time. Delete it.

    Disqus is a completely different issue and has nothing to do with this issue of dealing with comment spam.

  9. Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately, it’s getting harder to leave a legitimate comment on someone’s blog. I made the grave error of including a link, one single link, in my comment on a blog and Akismet tagged me as a spammer even though I’d previously left comments on that blog.

    On WP.com you can adjust your blog’s discussion settings to allow X number of links in a comment before it gets tagged as spam and held for moderation. The default is _two_ links. I had a couple of sleepless nights before being fished out of the spam pool. :(

  10. Posted June 25, 2008 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    @ Jennifer:

    Don’t worry. You are in good company. I’ve been caught by Akismet many times. It’s just part of the learning curve of the program as it learns. Sometimes it’s a link or three and sometimes it’s just the right word or not enough words. I’ve been caught for reasons that define imagination, right on my own blog! In time, Akismet learned, and it’s been a long time since I was caught by the spam filter. Now, I have to deal with its competition that also catches me.

    So you are not alone. It’s just part of the price, I guess. We just must stay vigilant.

  11. Posted June 25, 2008 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    My favorite spam comments though are the ones that have 100 links or more. That will never make it through a spam filter. Then there’s the ones that say, ‘This is not a spam comment, please don’t delete!’

  12. Posted June 25, 2008 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad I read this post yesterday, thanks Lorrelle. If I hadn’t I would have almost certainly approved the comment I’ve just come across in my Akismet queue, “I read similar article also named…”. Now I shall just delete it, and not get excited about a possible new commenter on my blog.

  13. Posted June 25, 2008 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    It still amazes me that there are many highly ranked blogs that don’t even bother to moderate their comments.

  14. mnichols
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this and so many great articles. I’m just starting up and have found your blog invaluable.

    My main concern is that my comments and trackbacks are not marked as spam. I suppose I could leave out URL’s entirely, but what about that great site I want everyone to know about?

    Oh well, I guess, like everything else in blogging-land, it just takes patience and experience!

  15. Posted June 27, 2008 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    @ mnichols:

    It isn’t just URLs and how many links and such you put in your blog comments that can trigger a comment spam “incident”. It could be the words you use, the length of the comment, and if someone has inadvertently, or on purpose, marked your comment as comment spam. Just comment intelligently and it will be fine. Don’t worry so much. :D

  16. Posted June 28, 2008 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    You’ve got a nice post on Comment Spam Alert: I Read a Similar Article << Lorelle on WordPress. Really very nice to read and useful, thanks for the nice share.

    ….just kidding. Though, this is an interesting article. The last example is actually pretty convincing.

  17. Posted June 28, 2008 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    @ Hatkirby:

    Actually, not funny. I just marked this comment as comment spam and and then saw the “kidding” part. If you had been put into the queue as comment spam, good luck in getting out. These kinds of jokes are old and tired, and can get you in more trouble than you want. Take care in how you abuse comments, my new friend, as people react very fast and getting out of Akismet is not easy. :D

  18. Posted June 29, 2008 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    If you are here on wordpress.com, Mark, the Key Master, posted a link in the support forum to a wp.com blog that you can post on to see if Akismet has you in its crosshairs and if so, what to do. (fingers crossed, knock wood)

  19. Posted June 29, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    @ Jennifer:

    I’ve written extensively about how to get yourself out of Akismet if you get caught, being one who has been caught often, in articles like Fighting Comment Spam: WordPress Comments Mass Edit Mode: and When Akismet Goes Bad: What to do when Akismet starts spamming your own comments. The point is to not do anything that would get yourself caught ON PURPOSE in the first place. Accidental catches will happen, but don’t do it on purpose. ;-)

  20. Posted June 30, 2008 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Yeah……
    when I first blogging, I really flattered to find messages like these. After few days I know something is really wrong. These comments has soul in it, too mechanical.

    The duplicate comments come through….I finally realize that these are spam comments.

    I hate spam, but I’m still an avid proponent of dofollow blogs.

    We have to give and share…….

  21. Posted June 30, 2008 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been getting a lot of these type of comments in my Akismet spam queue lately, but I find that I can use my own judgement to decide whether to delete them or de-spam them, usually by the methods you’ve described, coupled with the dodgy website they want to put by their name.

    What I’ve been struggling with most are trackbacks and pingbacks that look perfectly legitimate, but are in my spam queue. So this, more than the problems above, gives me most difficulties in deciding on whether to delete, or mark as not spam.

    I follow some of the links, and they are just sites that list, for example, plugin releases. Are they in my spam queue because they are splogs, and have therefore ended up in the right place, or are they actually legit, ie someone who just likes spreading the word? I don’t want to link to these sites if they are bad (especially when I DoFollow).

    So, do I trust Akismet?

  22. Posted June 30, 2008 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and plus, to add to your list, I’ve been getting a lot of ‘God Blesses’ at the end of spam comments.

  23. Posted June 30, 2008 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    @ Epic Alex:

    Do you trust Akismet? Well, the entries going into Akismet are entered by humans – specifically by us bloggers, forum moderators, and others using Akismet. It’s their best judgment and sometimes expertise that makes the decision to mark comments and trackbacks as comment spam. Just because one person adds a comment to the comment spam queue isn’t enough. Akismet makes a “decision” on filtering specific comment spam based upon more than one submission.

    Do people get caught? Yes. I’ve been caught. I’ve also gotten myself out without contacting Akismet, just by marking my own comment spam as “not spam” on my blogs and asking those that caught my comments to mark them also as not spam. I get no preferential treatment, and if anyone should, it’s me. :D hee hee.

    Trust your own instincts on this. If you want to check Akismet regularly, which I do from time to time, I recommend you use Akismet Auntie Spam for WordPress Greasemonkey Scripts for FireFox by Engtech of Internet Duct Tape to make the process MUCH faster and easier to sort through looking for false/positives.

    As for comments and trackbacks that link to Plugins or related content, and your blog covers those things, then let them stay. If they are totally unrelated, delete them, mark them as spam (if it looks spammy), or edit them.

    If you are in doubt about the legitimacy of a comment or trackback, simply remove the links in the comment form. The comment stays but the power to manipulate page rank and such is gone. It’s that easy. Don’t tress about it.

    As for the religious sign offs, if I let the comment stay, I will edit it to remove signatures, signature links, and such sign offs as they are not necessary and not content. So why bother.

  24. Posted July 1, 2008 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Akismet is only as good as the people using it..

    Personally I quite like it, even if it can be a little over (or under) zealous some days. I haven’t found another solution that is as reliable.

    Interestingly I run some email servers and one of the biggest problems I see is AOL users who have received a mail that doesn’t interest them (even if they subscribed to the mailing list in the first place!).
    These users will often hit the “Delete as Spam” button, this has a knock on effect back to AOL’s servers, get a few of these marked against your mail server’s IP address and you might find that none of your users can send email to AOL users for a few days!
    All because the error was between the keyboard and the chair!

  25. Joe
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Spam, akismet gets 90% for me. Maybe when my site gets more popular.

  26. Posted July 2, 2008 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    90%! That’s great! New blogs tend to get more comment spam through, though I’m not sure why. I’ve had the same issue with new blogs, but in time, more and more are caught. I’ve not actually counted a ratio of those that get through to those caught as the numbers change daily. Some days, all comment spam are caught, some days, only a few get through. Then other days, a ton gets through and I just switch to the Mass Edit View and go through them quickly.

    Comment spammers are working overtime to come up with ways to get comment spam through, as evidenced by this article. With thousands of attacks on my blogs daily, a 10% through rate is awesome compared to a 90% through rate. :D

  27. Posted July 7, 2008 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    If it is alright to take away parts of the comment what about adding to it? Something very thoughtful and complimentary for the author of the blog to enjoy for awhile. Something to let his other readers know what, perhaps, they can aspire to…

    Just kidding.

  28. Jim
    Posted July 8, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    First of all I used to love your site and I know your a big time blogger but the spam stuff is getting old. This type of link spam has been around quite a while. Spam sucks but shouldn’t you be using you 10,000 readers to sav the world or something. Or at least feed the hungry.

    It’s easy. Use captcha to catch as many as you can. Most people are taking the time to leave a comment to get at least something out of it and most times it’s links.

  29. Posted July 9, 2008 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    @ Jim:

    CAPTCHAs have been repeatedly proven to not work. I’m sorry you are bored with discussions of comment spam. I’m also tired of it, but as you can see from the comments, a lot of people were unaware.

    New bloggers enter the market constantly and I serve the beginners who are learning everything for the first time. Thus, there will be some redundancy from time to time, especially when the new techniques that are being used (based on old but getting smarter and smarter) are getting by normally diligent bloggers.

  30. Posted July 14, 2008 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    One very obvious giveaway (aside from duplicate IP addresses) is when a spammer replies to their own comments *before* you’ve approved either. It’s a creative idea, this conversational spam, but so easy to spot if you hold comments for moderation. I suspect they do slip through on sites that don’t use mod.

  31. doggerelist
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    One good way of telling whether a particularly vague comment is spam or not is to google a long phrase from the comment – when I did that recently I found identical comments (albeit with different signatures – be warned) on more than 200 other WP blogs….

  32. Posted July 31, 2008 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    @ doggerelist:

    Identical comments as comment spam have been around for a very long time. In fact, it is the oldest method since it only does one thing. Luckily, enough savvy bloggers are spotting these and reporting them as spam, so there is a huge database record, and rarely do these get through. Most of the ones you find are there because the blogger is no longer blogging, thus not paying attention, or they are old and the blogger hasn’t re-processed their spam queue now that the spam flighting databases have updated.

  33. Posted October 22, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Focus on long-term sustainability. ,

  34. Saddie
    Posted June 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle great hints to keeping the spam under control for WordPress (I do have 2 of those), but my real problem is with Joomla spam right now. In fact i had to turn the comments off just to get a break from the lovely spammers. Hoping maybe you have some ideas for me on the Joomla format :-).


7 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Lorelle posted a great article today discussing how to detect SPAM comments on your blog. She talks about, specifically, trackback links that Spammers are using. They’re getting more sophistocated. When I was a new blogger, I fell for a lot of these—happy that anyone at all would notice my posts. [...]

  2. [...] to another website. Strangely, I read about this type of spamming only just recently on Lorelle (Comment Spam Alert: I read a similar article…), and incidentally, the comment on the Techgirlogy site matches one of the prompts listed on [...]

  3. [...] [Via Lorelle on WordPress: Comment Spam Alert: I Read a Similar Article.] [...]

  4. [...] to manually spam your blog, and the recent batch of “intelligent” spamming bots which use your blog post title and blog title in the comment to trick you into believing the comment spam is legitimate with comments such [...]

  5. [...] read an interesting post today by Lorelle at WordPress (now given the article Lorelle wrote that will sound just like spam, but it’s not….. [...]

  6. [...] Comment Spam Alert: I Read a Similar Article [...]

  7. […] Comment Spam Alert: I Read a Similar Article […]

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