Human Comment Spammers – What To Do?

Yesterday, a comment on this blog irked me more than I’d like to admit.

Blog owner runs a fake dofollow blog. Goes and sneakily deletes all links. FUCK YOU!name (required)

I believe in rewarding conversation, and I’m more than happy to allow links to a user’s website if they show they actually care about adding to the content. In the past, it was pretty easy to tell. Spam bots posted garbage. Anything that seemed even a bit unique was probably human and okay to let through. But with automated tools like Akismet doing a better and better filtering out spam bot-generated comments, it’s the human spammers that are starting to take over my spam box.

SPAM

And that fellow above? I deleted a link back to an advertisement website, but left the comment up. At the time, I didn’t feel that the comment, ‘What is the monthly fee on that GPS unit?‘ deserved a link back to a spammy website. In retrospect, perhaps I was a bit harsh in that judgment. Clearly, with the response I got, the author of the comment felt that was so. Still, let me be clear: I don’t delete all links. Far from it.

I can usually categorize human-generated spam comments in two main groups. The first is exemplified by an SEO’ed link back to a blatantly spammy website, with the comment body made up of no reasonable content whatsoever. These are easy to deal with, as they add nothing and only attempt to push their sites up in ranking engines.

  1. Thanks for the info. Great stuff! – Perth Photography
  2. I must download this version. I’ll give it a try and see. – How to edit pictures

These make up the majority of spam comments that find their way past Akismet. I delete these without remorse.

The second category of human spam is trickier to deal with. Usually, they have something to do with the post, but the comment isn’t exactly enlightening. The links are a bit spammy, but it’s usually not a keyword link. Most of the time when a comment like this shows up, I either let it through, no holds barred, or try and categorize it in the first category, deleting it altogether. I try to not let many comments into this second category, but then they do make it, I delete the links and leave the comment standing. Some examples:

  1. Nice post! I really like your site design. Just thought Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขd drop a line, take it easy!
  2. I hate the iphone, too much hype.

The thing is, all too often, I get comments with weak content that are simply looking for traffic back to their site (which usually is most often commercial in nature), or very good comments, but with no link at all. The latter are typically from people who are truly interested in the topic and comment based on that fact, not for ulterior motives. Some of the reviews I’ve done have great comment threads, as do many of the articles I wrote on the Dell XPS M1330 and ones discussing WordPress designs.

After reading all this, what do you think of my comment moderation rules? Are they too harsh? Too lax? I’m very curious how others handle these sorts of comments, as they are cropping up more and more. I haven’t seen much discussion on this topic.

7 thoughts on “Human Comment Spammers – What To Do?”

  1. Completely reasonable commenting standards. For a few WordPress sites I deal with, a majority of the “awesome site, I must surely check this out” comments are picked up by Akismet within about two days after they start appearing. Just keep marking ’em as spam. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I guess it has to be like the US Supreme Court decision on pornography: you know it when you see it. A URL with two or more dashes and clearly high ranking Google keywords is a useless comment. Someone coming from a corporate IP block and whining that something you’ve said is unfair also falls into the astroturfing/whitewashing spectrum. Poor command of the English language with punctuation marks all over the place – while eliminating genuinely stupid people – is also a giveaway.

    One of the more interesting comments I’ve received was one re: Excel VBA automation. A friend of mine had a task at work that involved creating an Excel sheet, and a reply within a few days was from a Russian shareware-peddling organization (you know, one of those ones that advertises password crackers for PDF at $99 as one of their staple solutions.) It suggested his solution was inelegant, and that they had something better. I ended up following the link and found out about a fully managed .NET solution that I’ll look into next time I need something more than a one-off chart.

    By the way – we seem to think alike on the recent UW DreamSpark news. OMG, check out my post! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. I tend to be more pragmatic in my view. I don’t think shameless self-promotion of one’s infinitesimal place on the internet belongs on personal blogs.

    If you are linking to something pertinent, a similar post perhaps, or an opinion you have already expressed on the pages of your blog, then fine. However, if it is a general link to your homepage, I deem it rather worthless. There is far too much garbage on the internet for anyone to spend the time sifting through personal blogs for anything of worth.

    Apologies if I offend anyone.

  3. Hehe caught it and posted it approximately 15 minutes earlier on my blog than you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now if a person could subscribe to their own blog and see what everybody else subscribed to it do in terms of sharing and commenting… a reputation management tool of a sort, maybe even with blog ownership verification akin to Technorati or Google Webmaster Tools รขโ‚ฌโ€œ now that would have been really useful!

  4. I remove all comments that do not add anything useful to the original post or conversation, just as described above. I sometimes read posts at SEO forums and there are a lot of offers from people who are willing to post spam comments in blogs for a very small fee. For example, they may charge only a few cents for 100 blogs. This is an example, I never really got into it.

    Personally, a include a link to one of my websites whenever I make a post, just so that I can be found and reached if necessary, and it is not necessarily my personal blog. If a comment is interesting, I sometimes want to see the commentor’s site, which bring him traffic. Why should I not be able to get the same, if my comment is somehow useful? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    All in all, it’s not that hard to see if somebody made a comment just to get a link, or to add something to the conversation and get a link as a reward. Got nothing to add? No reward, no link! The link must be removed by admin. Even if a comment is 200 words long, it has to be meaningful with regards to the topic being discussed, otherwise it’s pointless.

    To summarize, I support removal of stupid comments and/or links. ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. I also implement “dofollow” on some of my blogs. It gets annoying sometimes that I get comments that are utterly senseless, and some even pornographic in a sense. I delete their posts, and not just the links. I know how bloggers put in a lot of effort just to maintain their blogs, and it’s really annoying that some people just don’t value this.

  6. Hi. OK, I’ll chime in and make a comment.
    It is your blog so you can delete or modify comments how you feel. I do it to mine if the link looks to be spammy but unless akismet says it is spam and the comment has lots of links to “not nice sites” I let them be. I try not to mark comments as spam, if I don’t like it I click delete instead. The reason? I have had my name added to akismet, no idea why, I just like stumbling around sites and making comments if I read something interesting – I guess someone didn’t like me and maked me as spam (I contacted Akismet and all is fine now). I think akismet lets people mark things as spam a little too easy when maybe they should be just deleted.
    I hope I have made sense.
    I even don’t mind the occasional link in the comment if it is pointing to something that relates to the post.
    cheers from Australia.Paul

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