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Rex Sorgatz

Screenplay idea: Man gets amnesia and reconstructs his life from blog comments he wrote. Short film -- he kills himself after 11 minutes.

feb 3
2009

My Strange Spam Problem

Several people have noticed that I've been getting interesting commenter spam on my site over the last couple days. I've deleted most of it, but I kept it alive on this one post. Why interesting? Because the spam appears to be (actually, almost certainly is) written by actual humans, rather than by spam bots. You can tell because the "commenters" actually seem to address the topic of the post. The only quality that makes it spam is including links to spam-o-licious sites. And now it's gone to an extreme: the spammers are commenting on my comments about spamming, including more spam links. And another reason it's interesting: there must be some significant investment in hiring these spammers. It makes you wonder, is it some sort of off-shore gold farming generating this stuff? I'll continue to delete it, but it does raise an interesting question about actual commenter motives: if you're responding to an issue in a comment, is putting a product in your sig file any different than linking to your personal blog? Is this a case of commenters merely reinventing the product placement?

19 comments

That's really interesting, these new tactics that these spammers are taking. Great points made all around! Can't wait to read more on this subject.

posted by Carl at 2:46 PM on February 3, 2009

Wow.

Best insidery comment ever!

posted by Rex at 2:47 PM on February 3, 2009

Man, Carl totally joke responded the way I wanted to joke respond except I didn't get here first.

There still seem to be some "rules" in play as to how to comment spam.

1. Try to be just on-topic enough to pass a "scan through comments without reading them" test, but be unable to pass a certain level of banality for those actually reading the stuff that's being written. (This will almost always work on blogs with hundreds of comments per topic.)

2. Yeah, you can include the URL in the "URL" field, but in their minds it stands to reason that you must ALSO include the link - the EXACT same URL - in the comment body text. Like you'll get more "points" that way.

3. And you might as well post more than once, preferably to separate topics, just to make sure everybody saw that URL.

4. It doesn't hurt if you stick to the older topics where people might not be engaging in active discussion any more, so as to stay under the radar (except when, for example, MNSpeak would send me notifications of replies to posts I'd made two years ago)

Surely this is a sign of some success of this blog that people feel there must be some sort of material gain to have their link here - Technorati authority? Google PageRank? Some rigmarole involving NOFOLLOW (or a lack thereof)? Unfortunately it must somehow be easy enough for those who are greedy enough for this to make enough money to keep doing it. I don't think *I* could do it - but it's easy to work within a moral code when you're working at a job where I can take 15 minutes and compose a comment on Fimoculous.com.

I've often seen visits by people randomly clicking on my name - both here and at MNspeak - but I don't know that anything beyond that has come out of it. I've come to accept that most people visit, see that the gathering of "mostly people who read WrestleLine ten years ago" over at my place, decide that that may not necessarily intersect with the folks *they're* interested in hearing from, and move on - which is simultaneously disappointing and totally understandable.

In short: thanks, Rex, for making this post because clearly I wanted to go off on this, but only when it seemed less like a tangent. Hmmm, did *I* somehow manipulate YOU? If only I could build upon that by having a product to sell you!

CRZ

posted by CRZ at 3:30 PM on February 3, 2009

I think your spam problem is related to a problem i had a while ago on one of my own sites. Its dumbassed wanna be IM knukleheads who think that there are gains from putting up links every where they go, even if it has nothing to do with their business (fatloss or whatever).
Just my 2 cents worth.

posted by Robert at 4:27 PM on February 3, 2009

5. Oh, and a .biz or .info domain is a dead giveaway. ;-) (If Robert comes back and protests, I may have to revise this rule by adding a "USUALLY.")

posted by CRZ at 4:30 PM on February 3, 2009

only difference is I actually do have that URL and I dont want to regard it as Spam my friend CRZ

posted by Robert at 5:08 PM on February 3, 2009

A lot of people are looking for DoFollow comments. It's a great way to build backlinks. However, I understand your pain. I can't stand the comments that I get on some of my blogs.

The ones that say, "Great site! I love your content." - John C : Fat Loss Pro.

Lol. That's basically how they go.

posted by Taylor at 9:53 PM on February 3, 2009

eggs an spam, spam n spam, repeat

posted by ratman at 12:05 AM on February 4, 2009

None of your guesses as why so many people commenting here lately are correct :)

Nobody pays them, they pay somebody to send them list of high pr sites/blogs where they can drop some links.

I was going to find a post where i can comment but i think i'll wait until you forget about this issue :)

posted by me at 1:39 AM on February 4, 2009

Try make all the links here no-follow and they will be gone for sure :). You can install a plug-in called "Top commentators" which only give link love to your loyal readers if you want. ;)

posted by Liqus at 8:44 AM on February 4, 2009

Even my advice is spam!

posted by Rex at 8:48 AM on February 4, 2009

:)

posted by katiebakes at 11:31 AM on February 4, 2009

The reason you've suddenly been getting spammed is that there are a bunch of people (myself included) who are subscribed to a particular Email list wherein the list's creator goes out and finds a bunch of high-PageRank websites that allow you to put 'dofollow' URL links up with anchor text of your choice. Getting these URL links pointing back at your website, of course, makes you look better to the search engines, so there's quite a few of us who subscribe to the Emailing list.

So, this site was part of the February 2009 mailing. The spam flood will stop quickly as everyone moves on to the next few pages.

Here's my blatantly abusive link:
I review ebooks!
Hopefully my honesty is enough to convince you to not delete it. :)

posted by Michael at 6:26 PM on February 4, 2009

This is now officially insane.

Seriously, should I delete that?

posted by Rex at 6:29 PM on February 4, 2009

I think you should leave Michael's post up. It's on topic, answered the question posed, and even provided an example!

Seriously though, you're going to want to make sure that any anchors placed inside comments have a nofollow attribute, or this is going to just get worse.

posted by Jason at 9:47 AM on February 5, 2009

I don't envy you. I really don't.

Like anything else in life, there are 6 degrees of separation when it comes to spam, marketing, or both , on the internet.

Let's face, links are the lifeblood of the web. Without interesting content, no other bloggers would link to you. Without other bloggers linking to your interesting content, you have no traffic. With no traffic, is there really any point to blogging?

Most newbies who decide they are going to make a million dollars online have absolutely NO CLUE about the symbiotic relationship of the web, and how the "web" moniker came about because of the interconnected nature of all that we do here.

Those of us like me who have been at this for nearly a decade and who do in fact earn a full time living online, have come to understand that we are all dependent on each other.

By coming in and crafting a thoughtful, useful, on topic comment, I give something to you - more targeted content that Google will like, and your visitors may have an interest in.

The only thing I ask in return for helping you is the ability to help myself a tiny bit. Leaving a link somewhere (it doesn't always have to be blatant and full of anchored text - mine certainly isn't) is nothing more than common courtesy and simple reciprocation for giving something potentially helpful to you.

I 100% agree with you that spam comments are annoying, and I can also understand how easy it would be to make your link "nofollow".

But if you can, try to keep in mind that like anything else in life, spam has many hues and shades. Try to base your deletion decisions upon the basic premise of "was their comment useful enough and helpful enough to ME, to consider giving help to THEM in return?

Whether my own comment here is now deleted or not is immaterial. I only hope that maybe it will get one person to stop for a moment and consider how truly dependent we all are on each other for links. Without eyeballs to see what it is we do (whatever that may be) there is little point for ANY of us to continue.

It truly is the circle of internet life.

~Mike

posted by Mike at 4:26 PM on February 5, 2009

link comments no-follow or not are not worth chasing.

They have been so grossly devalued by Google that it is almost comical that a newsletter is still pushing this information.

Makes me wonder if January's submission was submitting to free directories.

posted by ryanol at 12:18 PM on February 6, 2009

I don't get it. If you don't want people to post, why allow people to comment at all? If the comment is related to your post then it's a human visitor. How many scripts out there that knows exactly how to comment on specific topics? The answer, of course, is no. Spam bots are easy to detect because it has nothing to do with your topic. If somebody comes by and says, "Hi, your blog is great. Please come and check my site blah, blah", it's pretty obvious don't you think? Me, putting this comment here could construe as spam because you may not agree with what I am saying. My two cent is this, if people are willing to visit your site and contribute by either commenting on the topic or to further enhance your topic with external relevant links. There's really no point posting this topic here because all you are doing is piss people off. Please take it to heart what I am going to tell you. You want people to help contribute by populating your site with comments and yet you don't feel like giving them credit for it. This is what your topic is really about. Just image you posting something up and nobody replies or comments on it. Does that make you any happier?

Yes, there will spammers. Lots of them, but who cares. Just as long as their comments are on topic with yours, that's what really matters. That is what rich content is all about. Besides, it's not like you have a ton of google adsense on your site or a ton of advertisers.

posted by The Koi Man at 3:05 PM on February 13, 2009

Anyways, I got so caught up in the comment I forgot to add your link. How this works on the Internet is the my link provided below. It's not like you don't already know but people post and then bookmark you. It's a give and take process that happens behind the scene.
Fimoculous.com - online - My Strange Spam Problem

posted by The Koi Man at 3:27 PM on February 13, 2009




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