Friday, June 6, 2008

7 characteristics of blog comment spam

Some companies will pay bloggers and comment posters to say nice things about their products, and bad things about competitors.

Don't fall for it. Paid opinion blogging, and compensated blog comments, are counter-productive. Coached comments and mercenary blog posts are obviously insincere. Nobody believes incentivized remarks.

There are some clues that betray the fact that a remark is not genuine.

If someone's being paid to praise or attack something, they'll usually sound unnatural, non-contextual, and contrived.

Pretending, for some kind of pay, to be a satisfied customer, or a disgruntled user, is unethical. It the peer-to-peer recommendation system of the Trust Web. People visit blogs and forums in hopes of finding genuine reactions to various products and ideas, not subtle attack ads or sly promotions.

Here's a real life example.

The following comment was in my moderation box. Blogger notifies me via email when a new comment has come in for my approval. Comment moderation (reject or publish a comment) enables me to filter out commercial spam and to thwart abusive trolls.

I'm not censoring anybody, just blocking the spambots and the PayPerPost frauds.

This comment exemplifies the...

7 Characteristics of
Blog Comment Spam

(1) Anonymous
(2) Flattering
(3) Irrelevant
(4) Tangential
(5) Promotional
(6) Amateur
(7) Linked

Now here's the comment spam.


Hey buddy! Nice blog that you maintain here.. I just chanced upon your blog as I was surfing the blogosphere. I was thinking.. you could try out some interesting widgets on your page and spice it up with some great pictures. E.g try out the poster widget on [-- URL deleted --] with your relevant keywords. It has some of the best images i have ever seen.


Spam analysis:

(1) Anonymous: no name, no web site URL embedded in a signature, thus no way to verify who this is.

(2) Flattering: "Hey buddy", not even using "Vaspers" or "Steven". This makes me think it's an automated program, a "spambot", that tried to post this bogus "comment".

Since I don't use a "captcha" (character recognition, human-verification device) to block spambots.

[NOTE: I quit using a captcha, because it's often hard for real humans to see what letters or numbers are displayed. Jim Estill, CEO blogger, gave me this anti-captcha, pro-moderation advice.]

(3) Irrelevant: No indication that the comment poster read any of my blog, or the specific post they are trying to attach the comment to. Not even an attempt to fit the remark in with the topic of the post or the theme of my blog. A dead give-away.

(4) Tangential: Not only is the comment not pertinent to the discussion, but it goes off on a tangent. This is called "thread-jacking": hijacking, or subverting, the "thread" of the conversation. In this case, the topic "widgets" is introduced.

(5) Promotional: Having brought up an irrelevant topic, the comment is promoting a web site that pertains, not to my specific post or blog theme, but to whatever some company is promoting. In this case, it seems to be "pictures" and "poster widgets".

(6) Amateur: The anonymous, probably non-human, comment poster is unprofessional. I have widgets in my blog, but "he" doesn't even acknowledge it. In fact, he seems to be blind. He could have at least said "I noticed you have a few widgets already, but have you checked out (blah blah blah)."

(7) Linked: Nearly every spam comment will link to a site that is selling something, or seeking to increase traffic and clicks to ads displayed on the site.

The reason this comment fails to use my name, and fails to be relevant to the specific post, is because the human or spambot who is attempting to use my blog as a free advertising bulletin board, is: this comment is generic, and designed to be posted at a variety of blogs.

Comment spam is similar to email spam. You did not request information from the company, the company is irrelevant to your needs, the message is generic, and the spam is intrusive, disruptive, and time-wasting.

Delete all such generic, anonymous, boiler-plate comments.

The links may lead to malicious, Trojan or spyware-attaching sites. Protect your blog visitors. Keep your site clean from blog spam pollutions.

No comments: