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Blog > How to tell the difference between comment spam and real comments in your blog

Meet the author:
Jill Olkoski

Jill has a MA in Clinical Psychology, a BS in Computer Science, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

She currently owns Aldebaran Web Design in Edmonds (near Seattle WA) and enjoys educating her clients on topics related to small business website design.

In Jill's previous life, she spent 17 years in the engineering and quality organizations of a Fortune 100 tech company.

 


How to tell the difference between comment spam and real comments in your blog

December 22nd, 2008

How can tell if a comment you receive on a blog post/article is real and sincere – or just a spammer trying to get a link? I often get very short comments in my blog. They often say “Great post” or “Thanks for the tip”, or some such vague language. One of the ways that people hope to improve their website page ranking, is by getting inlinks – and they do this by leaving fake or spam comments in other people blogs. But how can you tell the difference?

First off, if you are reading this and you are blogging without Akismet, get Akismet. It caches the vast majority of spam. As of the writing of this post, Akismet has caught over 24,000 spams – from my blog alone! So let it do the heavy lifting for you.

For those comments that Akismet misses, you need to determine which are spam, and which are good comments, and which are not spam, but comments that you don’t want to approve. Since marking a comment as spam sends it into the Akismet database, you want to be fairly sure the ones you mark as spam deserve it.

I recently got a comment that fell into this grey category, and I wanted to share with you what I did to make my decision.

Here’s what I got in my email from WordPress:

Notice two things. First it’s from a gmail account, yet the URL is a website to a web design company. I’m always suspicious when there’s a website in the URL field, yet the E-mail field has an unrelated email address. Secondly, notice the generic comment “Thanks for providing such a nice tips”. Not even good english.

So I go and look at my web tracking tool, Web-Stat. I find the visitor by matching the IP address.

Here’s the visit:

Now, the article was on search engine optimization and online stores. So if this is a legitimate comment, I should see those keywords used in the search this person used to find my blog article.

But they used “web design”. Hmmm. And the URL was to a web design company. Now, smart folks know that the most valuable links are from websites that contain keywords that your company uses. So a web design company would love to have a free link from my blog, wouldn’t they?

Based on this, I decide this person has attempted to get a free link to their (or a client’s ) company by posting a fake comment in my blog. I mark it as spam, and send them to Akisment purgatory.

Jill
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J. Olkoski
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.



7 Responses to “How to tell the difference between comment spam and real comments in your blog”

  1. Quentin Christensen Says:

    Thanks for writing such nice tips.

    I have a blog section up on my site, but luckily I don’t get enough traffic to have to worry about spam but maybe in the future I will so I will check out your recommendaiton on Akisment. I used to moderate a forum for a student organization that had tons of spam and it was overwhelming just to deny all of the user registrations coming into my email. We never could find a good enough solution to solve the problem so we axed the forum. I hope you don’t normally spend this much time investigating whether you should allow a post or not.

  2. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Quentin,
    I would strongly recommend Akismet on ALL WordPress blogs regardless of traffic – I activate it on every single blog I install for my clients. Forums get spam as well, you’re right, and I believe that some forums (like SMF) do have plugins that are just like Akismet that helps weed out the spam. But I believe that forums might actually get more spam than blogs, but this opinion is based on one client who has both. The blog is much easier to manage from a spam perspective.

    No, I don’t spend this much time typically – I did this just as an example to help other folks identify spammers who are pretty clever and look like “real” comments.

  3. Katie Kay Says:

    Question…do you take the time to bookmark your blog onto all the sites that are available, ie…Stumbleupon, MSN, Yahoo, Del i cious, etc… If yes, has bookmarking sent traffic to your website and blog. How can you tell on webstat if a bookmark sent them to your site through a new blog post? I have traffic show up with my blog url as the source sometimes but no other info. about where they happened upon my blog.
    Thank you for the help Jill,
    ~ Katie Kay

  4. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Katie,
    I only belong to StumbleUpon, and I haven’t really used it in a while. When I did, I’d Stumble a single blog post, versus the home page of the blog. I would assume that depends on how the bookmarks work – I haven’t bookmarked using anything other than my browser. If someone comes from that kind of bookmark, Web-Stat wouldn’t show any keywords or referrer. The StumbleUpon traffic came straight from “stumbleupon.com”. I don’t know about MSN, Yahoo or Deli cious since I haven’t used their bookmarking feature. You have traffic showing with your own blog URL as the referrer?

  5. Lea Says:

    I found your method for determining what you called “grey” spam commentor’s interesting. I didn’t pay attention to personal or website email addresses in comments, but it makes sense. So I guess it’s a good thing that I decided a few months ago that I didn’t like leaving my personal email on comments and started using my websites email.

    My procedure has been to visit the commentor’s website, especially if I wasn’t familiar with them. For example, I recently got one that fell into the “grey” area except at the end of their comment, they said “thanks for commenting on my blog.” After visiting their site, I accepted the comment as it was in my website’s category.

  6. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Lea,
    Thanks for your feedback. Checking a commentor’s website is another good way to see if it’s legitimate. I also will look into my website traffic statistics and see what kind of keywords they used to find my blog article. I also check the author of the comment, and if it looks like a person, like “Lea”, it’s better than the name being “Red French Sofas” or some other bunch of keywords.

  7. Tokiko Kinoashita Says:

    Thank you very much for your great tips.

    I am new to blogging. I was just attacked by 65 comments in this morning, and I finally suspected that most comments I had received were spams. They were like comments you described in the post.

    I have never used Akismet, but do you recommend it for a personal blog, too? I assume it is not a free service. Does it worth it?




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