A quick guide to blog spam…

I’ll soon be hitting a landmark on Joe’s jottings – 10,000 spam posts caught by the Akismet spam trapping plug-in for WordPress.  Not at all bad going – I would advise anyone who runs a WordPress Blog to get their hands on this very useful piece of kit!  Anyway – I saw a comment posted by another blogger that made me wonder about ‘spam spotting’ in general, especially as I’ve seen a number of spam posts that are plausible enough to look like a ‘real’ comment sneak through Akismet (not many – about 2% in total) in to my moderation queue, and I’ve also seen quite a few comments on other blogs that are clearly spammy.

So, here’s a few thoughts as to keeping your Blog spam free!

  1. First of all – why bother?  The simple answer is that if you allow spam posts to appear in your blog comments then it gives the impression that you don’t care enough to keep the spammers at bay.  I’ve set my blog up so that all comments need to be moderated / checked before they show up on the live blog.
  2. Use a good spam-trap like Akismet.  It save so much trouble and effort and is well worth it – and it’s free for personal use.  There’s no excuse! It isn’t perfect – it will sometimes allow stuff through in to your comment queue which you then need to check out. 
  3. When you get comments in your comment queue, it’s worth looking at the email address.  My general rule of thumb is that if the mail comes from a .ru address, or just looks ‘unusual’, I bin it, irrespective of what the actual comment is.  This may sound rather ruthless but I’ve yet to have a single real comment from an .ru email address, so I can’t be bothered to spend brain cells on it.
  4. Take a look at the relevance of the comment made against the article on which the comment is givn.  Some spammers apply ‘generic’ comments such as ‘great post’ to everything – don’t be deceived – take a look at the email adderss and any link.  Don’t necessarily click on the link – you have no idea what’s on the other end of it.
  5. Some comments may be of the form ‘How did you get this template working?  Please mail me and let me know how.’  Occasionally these even have sensible looking email addresses, but I NEVER reply to a comment on my blog through email.  Basically it’s just a way for the spammers to get a ‘live’ email address from you.
  6. A general piece of advice is to be wary of any comment that is complimentary or that is in bad English or just a single sentence of the ‘I agree with this post’.  ‘I agree’ posts add little to debate around posts on a blog anyway – if the person is genuinely commenting they’ll tend to put a little more on to the comment.  Some comments are in incredibly poor English – even if they’re not spam, I bin them as they just look poor on the comment list for an article.
  7. If you do get comments that are spam, and that have escaped the attention of your spam filter, please ensure you report it as spam using whatever ‘report spam’ options are available in the spam filter you’re using – that way you’ll be contributing to improving the quality of spam filtering.

And there you go!  May you be spamless!

3 thoughts on “A quick guide to blog spam…

  1. Just on the point 1, I always thought that some of these comments were bait. If you approved them, then you were likely to get more spam as the bot picks up it is a real site etc, or that it is unmoderated.

  2. Absolutely – what is surprising is the number of people who do get taken in by this stuff – I’ve helped manage a few blogs where some spam has been authorised on the site as valid comments by smart and ‘with it’ people.

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