Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spam: Keeping Your Blog Clean for #atozchallenge

no spam!
no spam! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         We've all undoubtedly gotten the spam comments on our blog posts.   If you haven't then consider yourself lucky or one who has a very tight rein on incoming comments with your spam filters.  Just a word to a few of you (mainly those on WordPress it seems), if you receive absolutely no spam on your posts then good, but you might want to check your spam folders to make sure legitimate comments aren't trapped there as well.  If your controls are set too rigidly, your system may be blocking actual blog comments.  I can't tell you much about this--I only know it happens sometimes since I often end up in WordPress spam folders.

       The real spam is a nuisance, however, and is unfortunately something we have to deal with.  If there are any of you still in doubt about what spam comments are think of the content.  Does the comment have anything to do with what you've said in your blog post.  If not, or if it kind of parrots something you said, but still seems peculiarly worded or just an example of poor grammar you are probably dealing with spam.

        Also, spam often comes from "anonymous".   Ah, yes--that ever present who's-it sender that starts the conversation with a red flag.  On Blogger--and I would assume this is the case on most blogging platforms--we have the option of screening out anonymous comments by switching to "Registered Users" in the Settings section of the blog.  I've done this with most of my blogs and it has helped tremendously to eliminate the spam.   Sadly, I won't get some of those gems that come from real readers who wish to remain anonymous, but it's the price I have to pay to keep a cleaner comment section.

      Of course the spammers can evade this block by actually using a Blogger account.  If you don't know the sender it's a good idea to check the Blogger profile to see who the sender is.  It's usually pretty obvious if the sender is a commercial account who is merely spamming you to get you to click on a link or go to their site.  The bottom line is don't do it unless it's truly something that you'd like to know more about.

      That brings us to links.  You want to take care which links you click on.  This is especially true if a link that sounds very commercial ends the comment or if the comment is filled with peculiar looking links.  And in case you don't know this already, do not open any of those suspicious looking links or you may end up with malware infecting your computer.

        However, don't confuse signature links with links of ill intent.   If what appears to be a legitimate user with an actual good comment that relates to what you have written leaves a link in the signature, it's most likely a safe link that makes it convenient to find the commenter.

        Examples of a good link:  Shannon at The Warrior Muse   or Lee  A Faraway View

        An example of the potentially evil or spam link accompanied by irrelevant comment:

My family always say that I am killing my time here at web, but I know I am getting knowledge all the time by reading thes fastidious content.
my webpage ... rominahotcom         
          If it looks stupid and suspicious, it's probably because it is exactly that.  Don't click on these links and delete the comment from your comment section so others don't click on them.

           Just a note about spam you may not see.  Do you check your spam folders now and then to clean out the spam and make sure there are not legitimate comments trapped in there?   Periodically (at least once a week) you should check to see if you have any spam comments or comments awaiting moderation.   If you haven't ever done this, you might be amazed by what you may find there.  Especially if you are allowing anonymous comments.  You can find the spam folders under "Comments" on your Blogger template page and I guess this would be similar on other blogging formats.

          So, now you might want to get an early start on spring cleaning and get ready for the April Challenge. You'll be getting a lot of new comments to sort through, but you want to be sure to separate the good from the bad.

          Happy Safe Blogging!

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Rob Z Tobor said...

I have until recently been happy to allow anonymous comments but after a huge increase in the volume of spam using the anonymous comment option I have now also killed the anon comment option. It is sad really because some of the spammers were so complimentary about my blog.

They are clever too and tend to leave comments on older posts or ones that get a lot of traffic.

Oooo one final thing if a comment is peculiarly worded strange and using poor grammar and bad spelling it might also be me . . . . .HAH HAH HHAHAH HAH HAH AHHAH HHAH HAH HAHAHAHH AH HAHHAH HA.

Rob Z Tobor

Katie O'Sullivan said...

I blogged about this recently too - there's been a big increase in the number of spam comments I'm getting... but I still refuse to turn on the word verification.

*sigh* price of doing business?

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Yep this is a very important post, particularly as I'm entering 2 blogs for this year's challenge. I'm always amazed about the increasing levels of spam my blog generates, but like you say, it is quite easy to pick out who is a genuine commenter and who is not.

Michelle Wallace said...

Great tips to ensure a clean blog.
Spammers and hackers - aargh! Don't they have anything better to do?

katie eggeman said...

I really dislike captcha and turned mine off. I also don't allow anonymous comments and it stopped the spam totally. It has worked well for me, now if I could get the spam to stop on my email.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee - great post ... legitimate comments do go into spam for some reason until I release them.

Occasionally one will slip through on to the blog - and that gets sent to 'spam-jail' as soon as I spot it.

Keeping one's eyes open to comments is essential .. Cheers Hilary

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these wonderful tips. I just checked my spam filters and found a comment from one of my regular followers. Definitely somethings we should keep an eye on...

Arlee Bird said...

Rob -- At least your strangely worded comments have some kind of context related to the posts.

KatieO-- WV can be such a nuisance. I found that disallowing "anonymous" has mostly done the trick.

Duncan -- When I first started blogging I thought some of the spam were real comments. Then you can start seeing a pattern. And when you can't visit back I don't know that the commenter usually matters that much anyway.

Michelle -- The curse of the computer users world!

BankerChick -- I don't have too much spam email problem, but still there are a few everyday.

Hilary -- It's important to check the spam folder now and then because there are sometimes great comments there--especially on older posts.

MJ -- Yes, watch those folders! I've found some rather important comments in the folders that were direct messages to me. If you wait too long the spam folders can really get huge as well.

An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I almost never get spam with the settings on no anonymous comments. That really does eliminate most of it.

Meg said...

A friend and I started a "Spomment" page on Facebook for the more interesting spam comments. Check it out! HILARIOUS!!

Jo said...

Banker Chic, if you stopped email spam, how would you ever know about 'how to increase your size' or that you had won millions of dollars from Nigeria.

Good advice Lee, I had already done these things although I know I have cut off comments from one personal friend by not allowing anonymous, but it's worth it for cutting out the spam. I've been using a Hyperlink ever since it was mentioned on here.


JoJo said...

I'm starting to get more spam, which was never a problem before. I remember checking my spam folder awhile ago but I don't even remember how I found it in blogger.

Interesting to note, awhile back I read an article about people who are actually making money by working at home on the internet. I was about to sign up till I read between the lines and realized that the work would entail spamming blogs and Facebook pages with links to things. I didn't go through with it because I didn't want to do that.

Tina said...

Excellent, succinct advice, Lee. Off to check my spam's been a while.

Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

Arlee Bird said...

Alex - Same here.

Meg -- I've done at least one post about it. Some of the spam can be rather entertaining, but I does suck up valuable time as well.

Jo --- Unfortunately some people and some spam filters still mistake the hyperlink signature for spam, but I'll stand by its usefulness.

JoJo - Yes, the work from home scams unfortunately often involve becoming an online nuisance and that's not what I want to be.

Tina -- Not too long ago, before I disallowed anonymous comments, I went to my spam folders and saw that I had thousands of spam comments. That took a lot of time to filter through. Now I check every few days or so.

An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

Robin said...

Good tips, Arlee.

Jolie du Pre said...

If you receive spam, that means your blog is hitting the search engines and is getting known - that's a good thing. You can decrease the amount of spam through various way. I won't incorporate captcha on my blog, mainly because I despise it. However, I found that by not allowing anonymous comments, the amount of spam to my blog as decreased tremendously.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Timely post! Spam picked up so much recently that I finally had to block Anonymous comments. Before, Blogger was doing a good job of blocking them. Also, glad you mentioned checking for valid comments in the spam folder. I've found some in there for sure, and would have been sad to miss them. I was shocked the first time it happened--they'd been in there for a couple months.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Thanks for the advice, Arlee. Getting all wound up for A to Z.

Lisa said...

Thanks for the info! I wasn't sure what they meany by registered users, so I left mine checked to "anyone" and just recently started getting the ridiculous anonymous comments.

Going to change that setting now!

Geoff Maritz said...

Hi, Lee.
No spam anymore, no anonymous comments allowed, that solved it for me. Good post. Blessings, Geoff.

Arlee Bird said...

Robin -- Thanks

Jolie -- Agreed

Shannon --- Not sure what happened, but I think a lot came with some of the Blogger changeovers.

Susan -- Go Susan!

Lisa -- If you've been getting a lot of anonymous spam I recommend switching the setting. If not you might want to leave it be for a while to see what happens.

Geoff -- Glad you're safe computing.


Tracy MacDonald said...

Blocking anonymous comments is definitely the way to go, even when removing the Captcha setting. Excellent tips Lee.

Sarann said...

The ones that get me are the ones that are negative. I got one the other day that was something like- don't you think your title is rather boring and you could really stand to write with more enthusiasm, but come to my link and check me out. I was thinking, really you insult me and then want me to come to your link? I don't think so!

J.L. Campbell said...

A bit of spam has been coming through blogger lately, but I put on comment moderation for a bit on one account. The spam content has slowed to a trickle now.

Anonymous said...

The disadvantage with "registered users only" is that people can't comment as "name/url" which means you can't get to people's blogs by clicking their names, unless they have a Blogger blog. I created a Google account just to be able to comment on people's blogs.. quite annoying reason for having an account, although Google has some handy features.
As for spam on my own blogs, I use Wordpress and installed a plugin that blocks spambots. Commenters need to click a little tickbox to show they're human, and that's all. This has eliminated basically ALL spam.

Philip Verghese 'Ariel' said...

Hi Arlee,
Yet another great Tuto here.
Thanks again for this wonderful service. I very seldom check the spam folder and someone told me that it automatically get deleted and you need not worry about it. but now i understand that this need a constant check as you said once a week. OMG! I need to do a wonderful cleaning soon to get ready for the challenge LOL

Phil @ Philipscom
An ambassador to A to Z Challenge @ Tina's Life is Good
And My Bio-blog

Mike said...

Thanks for this post! I have faced spam ALL DAY TODAY! They went to posts from last month.They went anonymous and did exactly whats said in this post It was so strange. They wanted to quote things from my blog. I deleted their comment and said nothing!

Thanks Again for this Wonderful challenge and This wonderful post!

Unknown said...

I've seen more spam comments lately. I have my blog set so I have to "approve" them first so this has helped.

Unknown said...

I salvaged a few legitimate commenters from the SPAM folder. Others click on the like button and even follow my blog but don't comment. A handful of these are for those 'earn X amount of dollars a day via their social media template' websites. They're pretty dedicated to like each post and not just the blog, in general. Maybe there's a bot for that.

Tthere are couple I'm not sure about. One left a nice comment but their website had nothing to do with writing. It was for a VIN search engine. I'd already approved the message. The other one, I just got today. I was torn because the comment was so nice and specific. So I tried the link and it brought me to a male enhancement website. I was like, aww, man! So, I haven't approved that one. LOL

I've only had my blog for a week, so I'm still learning the ropes. :)

J said...

On Wordpress there is a great feature that allows you to hold all comments for moderation, or at least until the poster has two approved comments. This feature has been a tremendous help at cutting down on the shoe spam, and the handbag spam, I seem to get.

Cynthia Reed said...

What a useful post, so glad it popped up in my Facebook timeline and I read it! I am new to blogging and everyone's advice, experiences and comments are much appreciated.

Cynthia Reed, ReedWrites:

D..J. Kirkby said...

Thanks for this info. I have a wordpress site so I checked my spam folder to make sure that is all it contains :)