Friday, September 4, 2009

SPAM – A Blogger’s Nuisance

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all
How do you recognise comment spam?

Just over a year ago I started getting weird comments against a few blog posts. Not too frequently, perhaps one or two a month. Their occurrence was regular enough for me to consider using comment moderation. I didn’t switch it on as it happens, but the experience made the option very tempting.

The comments were not always posted on the most recent posts, which could have been a bit of a worry.

Luckily I enabled Comment Notification Email early on. This option in the blog settings is a splendid alert system.
It’s just as good to know when valid comments arrive as it is when bogus ones hit the fan.

Cut-throat approach

When I get comment spam, I usually just delete it there and then. It's a minor nuisance. But in recent months I’ve noticed these infrequent occurrences are becoming more sophisticated. I’d hate to delete a valid comment from a well meaning commenter.

These days, it takes me longer to work out whether it’s spam or just a comment with odd diction. Some of them can be almost appropriate to the post, though usually they come at the blog from left field.

Tell-tale signs

There are usually signs that indicate something is dodgy. One comment that I deleted recently, Nice blog and have lots of stuff here, actually linked to what appeared to be a valid and reputable environmental site. However, a search on Google, using the parenthesised comment as search criterion, returned 1740 hits.

That was telling!

Here’s an example of a recent comment I got against a post published in July last year:

    First time I have seen your blog and what a great post that was!Remember the saying “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration”So once you have a great idea you have to work hard to turn it into a viable product that doesn’t just exist in your head. Keep blogging.

Plausible comment

At first reading, the comment makes some sort of sense, even with its idiosyncratic punctuation. But it linked to a commercial site, which is a tell-tale spam characteristic, rather than to a blogger’s account or about page.

Having jostled uneasily with comments like this over the past year,
I eventually developed a speedy strategy for putting them to test.

Perhaps you have a strategy of your own? Here’s my three point plan for nutting out an otherwise convincing spam comment –

    Does it make any sense that’s appropriate to the post it’s posted against?

    Does it link back to a valid blog or site that may be associated with a single person or valid group?

    How many hits do I get in Google when searching using the text of the comment or any parenthesised significant part of it?

The last point sometimes presents the need for closer inspection, despite a low number return. 15,00 hits is unequivocal, but if the number is less than 10, as it was with the otherwise convincing comment featured here, I have to inspect a few of the destinations listed in the search return.

Tracing the origins

At the time of posting, the search criterion, which was the first sentence from the suspicious comment, "First time I have seen your blog and what a great post that was”, returned only 9 hits.

But it becomes clear, when tracing their origins, that the comments are bogus – check them out.

I’d like to learn more about how others view this growing nuisance.

Are you a cut-throat deleter? Or do you have a sleuth-like strategy up your sleeve?
What checks on suspicious comments do you make before you delete them?

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later


Sue Waters said...

I've become very good at spotting comment spam and I either:

1) choose to ignore it - if it isn't too bad and the only link is in the commenters name
c) Delete it

Off course my friend Chocolate spam had to stay because it was on a post about Comments Count and opened the discussion for dealing with comment spam.

But spam blogs linking to The Edublogger has been a major problem with pingbacks -- I've solved this by moderating the terms they are using in the pingback -- works really well.

Pablo Lara H said...

Well, with my blog in Blogger I am using a JS-Kit Echo Comments and I had no problems with the spam. When I had my blog at Wordpress I used the Akismet system and I saw how the spam was stopped. Well, in both cases it stops the spam from bots, but I do not how what I could do with a real person spamming my blog. Very good blog you have. Congrats¡¡

Jack Allan said...

Long time reader first time poster.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Haere mai!
Haere mai!
Haere mai!

Kia ora e Sue!
Pingbacks - I'm less familiar with all that these mean. It seems there's more to blogging than posting and commenting :-)

Kia ora e Pablo!
I will explore JS-Kit Echo Comments, thanks. Since you commented, a real person spammed my blog as you can see, but in this case I think he is having a bit of fun, LOL.

Hey it's good to have you visit - glad you like the blog¡

Tēnā koe e Jack!
Well there's spamming and spamming! And your visit is no spammer. But I didn't include THAT detection strategy in this post :-)

Good to see you haven't lost that sense of humour.

BTW, I think the link is just canned laughter - as it were.

Catchya later