Doubting the Legitimacy of Blog Comments

Filed as Editorial, Features, Guides on June 30, 2008 8:04 pm

When you get a comment such as:

Teens are upward on the drooling era because they aren’t unmarried to scrimp joyous and attractive proclamations and they are amorously the depressing to be the looks of hollywood icons.

And it arrives on a blog post about your favorite WordPress Plugins, it’s really clear that this is comment spam, right?

What about something like this:

I found your insights inspiring. You really made me think, but more than that, you made me want to act. Thank you for being such a thought provoking blogger!

If you found one of those comments on your blog, wouldn’t you preen a little? Wouldn’t you want to call your family in and say, “See, someone thinks I’m smart! Someone out there likes me!”

I recently found that comment on my blog and I started to flutter my peacock feathers – until I noticed the link in the comment form went to a dating service of ill-repute. YUK!

Comment Spammers Getting Smarter at Fooling Us

We’ve long been plagued by comment spammers and their tricks, including hiring people in third world countries to manually spam your blog, and the recent batch of “intelligent” spamming bots which use your blog post title and blog title in the comment to trick you into believing the comment spam is legitimate with comments such as:

  • I read similar article also named <Post Title Here>, and it was completely different. Personally, I agree with you more, because this article makes a little bit more sense for me
  • I couldn’t understand some parts of this article <Post Title Here>, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.
  • This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title <Post Title Here>. Thanks for informative article.
  • Hey! Nice blog posting about <Post Title Here>. I would have to agree with you on this one. I am going to look more into it. This Thursday I have time.
  • Superb write up talking about <Post Title Here>. Thoroughly love your blog.
  • You’ve got a nice post on <Post Title Here>. Really very nice to read and useful, thanks for the nice share.
  • Hello…I Googled for <spam keywords here>, but found your page about <Post Title Here> …and have to say thanks. nice read.
  • Hello webmaster…I Googled for <spam keywords>, but found your page about <Post Title Here>…and have to say thanks. nice read.
  • Hey!, been surfing the net for <spam keywords> and found your blog regarding <Post Title Here>. You really know your stuff! I?d like to see more posts here. Will definitely bookmark it and come back.

Trust me, comment spammers are going to get even more sophisticated in fooling us, so we must be on our guard at all times.

So what can you do about determining whether or not a comment is legitimate?

Testing Comments for Legitimacy

If your instincts don’t tell you the comment is legitimate or not, what do you do? What’s the next step?

You can investigate further by clicking through to the link provided. Usually, you can tell in an instant if the site is a splog or legitimate. You’ll recognize it.

Worried about visiting harmful sites? In FireFox, sites designated as spammy, splogs, and containing potentially harmful programs or files pop up an alert that warns you before proceeding into the site. Google also alerts users when a site has been reported as harmful or sploggy with their own alerts. Unfortunately, few people report splogs and dangerous sites, which makes it hard to get these added to the database. Keep your computer’s security features and virus scanning software up-to-date just in case and never download anything unless you know where it is coming from and want it.
Warning of a malware site in FireFox
In , you can click on the IP address to be taken to a WHOIS page with the information about the site and site owner. This may or may not be helpful, but sometimes does include warnings if a site has been reported for abuse. If you find the site is a splog or harmful, this is another method to report the site for abuse through the links provided in the WHOIS information.
WordPress Comments - moderate comments unless they have been approved previously
Still not sure, let’s look at your options.

What To Do About Questionable Comments?

You have a variety of options on how to handle questional comments while still keeping your readers happy, and you sleeping peaceably at night.

You can decide to delete the comment and waste no more time with it. That’s the fastest way to deal with doubtful comments. If someone complains that you deleted their comment, tell them it looked spammy and that you are sorry and would they comment again, and maybe not be so spammy with their comments. Honestly, some people just don’t understand what a spammy comment looks like, so educate them.

You can edit the comment to delete any links within the comment and comment form, which leaves the comment’s intent and takes away all its link power.

Worried about people using swear words in the blog comments? WP-Devowelizer WordPress Plugin and WP Polite-ifier Plugin for Swearing are among several WordPress Plugins for comments that convert “swear words” or any words of your choosing into asterisks or other symbols to “bleep” out cuss words in your blog comment while allowing them to remain, thus making your blog a more family-friendly place to visit.

You can filter out new comments that might be comment spam easily with WordPress. The newer versions of WordPress have a feature on the Settings > Discussion panel which allows you to enable a “test” that puts all first time comments into moderation automatically. If they’ve had an approved comment before, the comment will appear automatically. Just enable the Comment author must have a previously approved comment option on the panel. This doesn’t stop comment spam, but it does add a layer of protection to help you filter out potential comment spam.

Don’t feel bad about marking a comment as comment spam. If enough people judge the same comment as comment spam, Akismet and other popular comment spam fighting tools will thank you, as will other bloggers who will automatically get that comment spam picked up by the comment spam filters.

Don’t Fear Blog Comments

While those of us who blog about blogging often blog warnings about comment spam issues and challenges, don’t fear blog comments. They are the most fun you can have online! It’s a way of creating friendships, support networks, and getting the feedback you want and deserve.

Do nothing that gets in the way of your blog’s readers and commenters. Keep comments open and rely upon the great comment spam fighting tools and WordPress Plugins available that help you keep your comments open and clean.

Moderate comments if you must, but stay on top of them all the time. It’s a lot of work, so if you don’t have time to keep up with comments, let WordPress, Akismet, and other Plugins do the heavy lifting for you.

Open your comments and enjoy a whole world of readers with something interesting to say.

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  1. By Dan Cole posted on June 30, 2008 at 9:49 pm
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    If I got a generic comment like the second one, I might delete it. It really doesn’t add any value, so what’s the point? I don’t think it should be required to keep positive comments… Would you bookmark or digg a post if it was about how good of a person you the reader are and how smart you the reader are?

    Reply

  2. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on June 30, 2008 at 11:29 pm
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    @Dan Cole:

    I agree, and you are far ahead on the learning curve. Most people want to keep every comment they find. Learning that comments are content and the comments WITH content are more important than all the “thank yous” and “this really helped” comments is an important learning step all bloggers must go through. Good for you!

    Reply

  3. By Izzysix posted on July 1, 2008 at 7:50 am
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    I’m new to the blogging biz and I wonder what the purpose of Splogs are. I would guess to get people to click through to sites of questionable repute? I would appreciate a little education on the topic. Thank you.

    Reply

  4. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on July 1, 2008 at 1:26 pm
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    @Izzysix:

    The purpose of a splog? Do you get junk mail in your mail box? In your email? When a website does the same unwanted advertising junk, it is the same thing. An attempt to lure you into buying something you don’t want, don’t need, and wish would go away.

    Splog is an abbreviation of “spam blog” representing the worst of the worst on the web. Unfortunately, like email spam and snail mail spam, there is a lot of money to be made.

    The articles linked to within this article will take you to more helpful information, including articles linking to a lot of information I’ve written on comment spam and splogs a while ago.

    Reply

  5. By Assam posted on July 4, 2008 at 7:55 am
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    Earlier I wrote a genuine comment about my experience with spam comments. But,it seems like you have deleted it. Great. Now Blog Herald is supporting spam comment like the above. Great.

    Reply

  6. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on July 4, 2008 at 4:33 pm
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    I don’t know when you wrote your comment, but the Blog Herald has been having technical difficulties over the past few weeks and many comments didn’t get through, and we’re still plowing through a backlog of comments and such from upgrading. Personally, I have no access to comment spam filtering, so I’ll check with the editor to see if your comment was caught by the filter.

    As for the comment spam you are seeing on this post, I haven’t found it. Maybe someone caught that and removed it.

    I’ve been caught by comment spam filters many times and it is very frustrating. You can try commenting again and telling your story. I’ve had to do that many times.

    Reply

  7. By Musician Finder posted on August 12, 2008 at 1:55 pm
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    One could always remove comments all together from their blog…
    but that would be online journalism…. or narcissism.

    - Imar
    http://www.musicianforest.com

    Reply

  8. By Alan posted on November 19, 2008 at 2:30 pm
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    One could always remove comments all together from their blog…
    but that would be online journalism…. or narcissism.

    Reply

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