My Blog’s First Comments! Too Bad It Was Comment Spam

Today this blog reached an important milestone! I opened my email client to discover that I had a comment pending moderation, my very first comment! As I suspected though, it was actually comment spam, a spamming technique used to artificially inflate the search engine ranking of the spammer’s site. By tonight, I had received my second comment spam.

This isn’t the first blog I’ve run, so comment spam is nothing new to me. It’s the biggest reason I require all comments to be moderated by me before I display them on the site. While that move can be misconstrued as censorship, it’s an important tactic to use in order to keep your blog’s quality up to par. I only use it for spam catching though, I will never delete a post just because it’s critical of me, this blog, or my services. Don’t believe me? Try me out!

Here are the two comments I received:

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Author : ashley furniture sofa (IP: 173.212.197.25 , 173-212-197-25.hostnoc.net)
E-mail : Slosek58281@gmail.com
URL : http://cheaptheashleyfurnituresofa.co.cc
Whois : http://ws.arin.net/cgi-bin/whois.pl?queryinput=173.212.197.25
Comment:
I read a lot of blogs recently and yours is one of the best. I enjoy reading your posts – clear and well written. Your page goes straight to my bookmarks. I got some nice inspirational thoughts after reading it.

Author : Online Ouija Board (IP: 24.184.232.88 , ool-18b8e858.dyn.optonline.net)
E-mail : SZedikamim@hotmail.com
URL : http://www.onlineouijaboard.net
Whois : http://ws.arin.net/cgi-bin/whois.pl?queryinput=24.184.232.88
Comment:
Incredibly terrific article, I appreciated reading through it. It had many superb insight. I’m bookmarking this site.

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I got a chuckle from the Online Ouija Board commenter, I almost wanted to check out the website (but we can’t let the spammers win can we?).

For those of you that don’t understand why this happens, I’ll give the 10,000 foot view. It’s actually not that complicated. One if the criteria search engines use to determine a website’s search engine ranking is number of incoming links (links to your website from others) and the text used in that link. The default behavior of most blog platforms (including WordPress, which is what I use) is to display the commenter name along with their comment, and if a URL is supplied to make the commenter name a link to that URL. In the ouija board example the comment would result in a link from this site to http://www.onlineouijaboard.net with the link text of ‘Online Ouija Board.’ Doing this on tens of thousands of blogs, wikis, online forums, etc might result in a couple hundred links that actually get posted. This can have a huge impact on a website’s search engine ranking.

There are services out there that automatically sniff out these spam comments, which is absolutely necessary for high traffic blogs with hundreds of comments per day. For my purposes though, I’ll continue to manually review each comment. It’s actually a good thing for me, since I want to be more engaging with my users, this also forces me to read each comment and gives me a chance to respond when necessary.

So now that the spammers have found my blog, I can expect the frequency of these comments to increase in the short term, and then gradually taper off as the spamming programs figure out it’s not effective. In the meantime, I’ll still be waiting for that first *legitimate* comment.

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