Should You Point Out Comment Spam?

Filed as Guides on September 8, 2008 10:29 am

A week ago, I was offline for a few days and returned to find a bunch of comments on my blog pointing to comment spam that had slipped by my comment spam fighting WordPress Plugins as comment spammers tried new techniques.

Recently, I brought up the issues of comment trolls and mean comments, and about your ability and responsibility to editing your blog comments if they require some fixing or cleaning of inappropriate content. But what do you do with a collection of comments such as, “Is that comment spam above me by iwantyourbodynasty? You might want to get rid of it.”

They don’t help the conversation. They don’t contribute. They don’t expand upon the blog topic. But they do help me, the blogger, just in case I did miss a comment spam or two. Right? Maybe.

For me, monitoring blog comments is easy. I use the WordPress Comment Panel as my main portal view of my comments queue. has announced that they are overhauling the Comments Panel to make it easier to react and respond to comments and comment spam, so hopefully it will become easier to use and sift through the good, bad, and ugly, though many will continue to use email to monitor and react to their blog comments, which hopefully will also improve in the process. After all, wouldn’t you love to respond to your blog comments directly from email without clicking to open the page in your browser, scrolling down to the bottom, reading through the comments, and then respond? Why go through all of those extra steps?

Even if it becomes easier, what do you do with all those kind but useless “you’ve got comment spam” comments?

Appreciate or Edit Comment Spam Pointing Comments?

You can reward those who point out comment spam by leaving their comment there and saying, “Thank you for pointing it out.” After all, any comment is a good comment, right? Maybe.

People who care about your blog and take time out of their day to tell you are to be appreciated. They deserve your thanks and appreciation, however, I don’t want my blog post conversations distracted by comment spam pointing comments.

While regular, long time readers know I’m drill sargent disciplined about keeping a clean comment queue, a lot of caring people don’t realize my lifestyle involves being offline for days at a time occasionally and that as soon as I get online, that’s the first thing I do: clean out comment spam. I do this before I check email, before I check my feeds, before I check the news, before I start writing, before I even go to the bathroom in the morning. Others aren’t so disciplined, so they need polite nagging from time to time.

Still, here I am with a bunch of comments pointing to and naming the comment spammers, including four comment spam pointers to a single comment spam on one blog post – and a decision to make about how I should handle them.

After a long time dealing with the personal conflicts over whether to publicly appreciate, privately thank, or or delete edit comment spam pointers, I’ve come up with a system. It’s not perfect, and hopefully it doesn’t anger or insult anyone, but it works for me. It’s not a hard rules system as I evaluate each comment spam pointing comment individually based upon the goals of my blog: Have relevant and specific conversations on each blog post.

  • Delete Comment If Not Relevant: If the comment isn’t relevant to the blog conversation, it’s gone. However, if it is a really nice comment pointing to the comment spam, I will email them directly to thank them for helping to keep my blog clean and explain why I deleted their comment to keep my blog comment queue clean. That has consistently been rewarded with positive responses and often started great relationships. If it is by someone I know and adore, they know I run a clean blog so they are usually not bothered by the deletion.
  • If the Comment Contains Content, Respond to Comment: If the comment spam pointing comment contains content relevant to the blog post, and the pointer does not include the name or URL of the comment spam, I will respond by saying thank you and then commenting on the content and blog post to continue the post conversation and leave the comment spam reference as a mild interuption to the conversation, not worth stopping the flow.
  • If It Contains Content, Edit the Comment: If the comment spam pointer comment comes with content about the blog post content, I will edit the comment to remove the reference and leave the rest of the relevant comment content.
  • Delete Comment If Snarky: If the comment that points to the comment spam is snarky, vicious, or ridiculous, then it’s gone.

How do you handle comment spam pointing comments on your blog?

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  1. By Rarst posted on September 8, 2008 at 12:59 pm
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    Never had such… But I am still in manual moderation mode so I never had spam visible either.

    I guess my decision would be to leave it place. Content or not – reader still decided to spend his time writing it. It is hard enough to get comments out of readers without nuking those they do write. :)

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  2. By pelf posted on September 8, 2008 at 7:52 pm
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    Recently, I started emailing my commentator and I actually asked if they were real people. If they didn’t reply my email, I would mark their comment as spam.

    But also lately I found that this wasn’t working very well either. My commentator replied my email (so I thought he was human after all, he even gave me his name), but he continued to leave me spammy comments.

    I am tired of this..

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  3. By MrCorey posted on September 8, 2008 at 8:56 pm
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    I’ve decided that if its on topic but points to the person’s site, I will choose to leave it and comment on the relevance of the link. this keeps me in the clear, helps expand my horizons, and allows the comment author to get some “link juice” from my site, if their reference is relevant and helpful. Of course, I still use a “do-follow” plugin that only follows after a month. This gives me time to contemplate (as you’ve noticed, I’ve never disallowed good comments, such as yours).

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  4. By MrCorey posted on September 8, 2008 at 8:58 pm
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    Oh, and I don’t point out the spammers, as I have an RSS reader who is more than happy to comment on a spammer’s comments, even if I’ve noticed it and determined its without merit and deleted it. I think that its a bit “gauche” if you bring the spammer some notoriety, unless their comment can be used to get a laugh or two.

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