It has been a while since I last had a blog. Back them, I turned all comments off because evil spam robots posted endless comments with links to casino websites mostly. It was impossible to manage.
Interestingly, the spam has changed somewhat in the years since I shut that blog down. I’ve noticed on this blog that I’m seeing no robot spam (maybe because of the anti-spam hidden-field that WordPress has), but I’m getting a lot of real-human spam. My guess is that it’s mechanical-turk style stuff – 1c for each post or whatever. The quality of the English in the posts is generally awful, so I’m guessing it’s an example of off-shoring your spam, but maybe spammers just have bad English. What is clear is that they’re trying very hard to write generic comments that might feasibly apply to any blog post, with the obvious goal that you’ll not notice it’s spam, click approve, and their ‘website’ link will end up in your comments.
Most of the comments are pretty bland: “I found your post very informative, thank you for this useful information. I will bookmark your blog for future reference.” These are clearly taking the approach that most people enjoy a bit of ego stroking — wouldn’t you rather believe that somebody genuinely finds your thoughts interesting, as opposed to the obvious reality that somebody doesn’t care less and they’re just trying to con you? I suspect this method started out working quite well, until the sheer volume of copy-cat messages made it clear to even the most naive person that this is, in fact, spam.
There is another approach that I’ve seen a couple of examples of. At first it seemed really odd — almost amusing in fact, but in a sea of ego stroking, I suppose it makes perfect sense. Here’s an example an argumentative feel-BAD spam comment:
Why have you taken out my post? It was very beneficial information and i assure atleast one person found it helpful unlike the rest of the comments on this web site. I’ll post it again. Sick of obtaining low amounts of useless traffic for your site? … [continues in typical spamvertisement fashion]
The spammer starts out by chastising me for removing a supposed comment of theirs. Then they insult me (‘it was helpful, unlike the rest of the comments on this site!’). At first I thought this was very odd — I didn’t see how it could ever work — but then it struck me that this is quite celver. They’re trying to make the blog owner feel bad — nobody generally likes to offend or upset people — in the hope that they’ll want to make amends and will do so by clicking approve. Obviously it’s spam, there is no genuine grievance, but it’s interesting to see how they switched tack by going to the extreme opposite of the usual ego-stroking method. I’ve not seen many of these comments around, so I guess most blog owners are too savvy to fall for it.
As I write this, it occurs to me that there is one way these people could spam blogs — they could write meaningful and insightful posts that are in genuine response to the article they’re posting under, with no copy and paste, and the chances are they’d get through. I guess the cost of doing that (both in terms of required skill and time) is too great. Or maybe then they’d be called ‘marketing’, rather than spammers ;)
I’m going to try akismet. Hopefully that will stop the mechanical-turk spam too. If not, I’ll just turn comments off again, but that’d be a shame. I guess with Twitter it’s less of a black-out that it used to be.
I’d also like to get rid of the website box from the comments on my WordPress bloh and disable all links in the posts — anybody know if that’s possible?