In the previous post we looked at what blog comment spam is. We defined three different types and looked at three different sources. But now we want to know, “How do we fight back?” Comments are a valuable part of blogging and the social web. They are vital for building community. But it takes time to moderate comments. What ways can help us handle the load?
Some bloggers have given up the fight. They shut comments off completely and the blog becomes a one-way rant rather than a conversation. I find this very frustrating. It cuts out an important part of the blog experience and doesn’t help the community. There are no conversations, no backlinks, no accountability. This is appropriate for a corporate information site, but not for a blog.
Others have given up the fight by going in the opposite direction. They just auto approve everything. They get lots of spammy comments (and I’m sure that the spammers share this information) and let them sit in amongst the true conversation — kind of like weeds in a garden. This works well as long as you don’t mind the type of spam coming in. Some of it is actually quite creative and even fits into your blog.
But what happens when you start seeing the pornography comments? Or the “600 link” comments? What happens when your visitors see them?
Most of us have to live somewhere in the middle ground between these two extremes. But how do we handle it without going crazy? Well there are lots of techniques that are in use right now and you need to find a combination that works well for you.
I use mostly WordPress blogs, so this will lean more towards WP but most of these techniques should be available in other blog software.
- Require commenters sign up for your blog. I know that always turns me away from commenting on someone’s blog — I don’t have time to register and remember another userid/password. Check out Are You Chasing Your Blog Audience Away? for a well written post on this subject. Bottom line, don’t do this unless you’re building a forum.
- All comments are put into the moderation queue. This is the kind of work we’re trying to avoid, so lets see what else there is.
- Allow users who’ve already had approved comments on your blog to post without moderation. This will cut down on the amount of work required if you have a lot of repeat commenters. But keep in mind that spammers know this and will often put in 1 or 2 good comments to get past this and then start spamming.
- Allow all comments. Believe it or not, this is the route that use on my blogs although I have some plugins that help identify spam.
There is also a section of comment filters that is applied to every incoming comment regardless of the settings described above. This allow you to set up general filters that look for certain keywords or multiple links.
I’ve left these alone as the plugins that I use will do a better job of catching these types of spam comments.
Finally, there is the avatar. If you’re not familiar with this concept, I’d suggest that you check out Gravatar, the de facto standard for avatar handling on the web at this point. It allows users to have a profile picture that follows them around the web. Set it up once and it is there for any site that allows them to be used. This functionality is built into WordPress and most other CMS and blog systems.
The advantage to having Gravatar enabled on your site is that spammers rarely have one. They are based on email addresses and spambots use throwaway addresses. This will be a big help when moderating the comments that get into the queue (or even those that get through). Keep in mind that the absence of a Gravatar is not a spam indicator by itself — many legitimate users don’t use them yet leave thoughtful and useful comments.
Now that we’ve done what we can do with WordPress out of the box, we can now start to tinker. If you go to the Install Plugins page and enter the keyword spam you’ll be presented with a list of plugins that deal with spam related issues. The current list shows 19 entries. Some of them are older plugins that are no longer supported (or needed). There is even one that let’s you turn off the colour coding for spam entries so they don’t clash with the admin theme colours.
But of the rest, there are 2 major classes of plugins — those that try to prevent or slow down spammers and those that try to determine which comments are spam after the fact.
These plugins use different techniques to ensure that the comment is coming from a live person rather than a spambot. They’re usually pretty effective and use techniques such as Captcha’s or mathematical questions that are hard (but not impossible) for a spambot to crack.
They work pretty well at keeping out most of the spam, but they may also keep out a lot of legitimate comments. I know that I hate them and I doubt that I’m alone. They make for an extra step to leave a comment. And no matter how politely they are presented, the implication is that you don’t trust me. For this reason alone, I don’t plan on using this type of plugin to combat spam.
Detection is the other route. These plugins will scan comments that come in, looking for various characteristics that indicate spam. The best of them use databases to compare comments against. Over time they become more accurate. They will detect potential spam comments and either delete them or put them into the moderation queue for you to check.
I like this route. It allows most legitimate comments to come through without any intervention or extra steps on the commenter’s part. The comments show up immediately. And any questionable comments will end up in the moderator’s queue where you get to decide.
My favourite plugin for spam detection is Akismet, which comes built in to WordPress. You’ll need to get a free API key to allow the plugin access to the database, but that’s all. The API key works for multiple sites and there are Akismet plugins for other CMS products (for example, I have a Drupal site with Akismet enabled).
What does the future hold? Well, if the past is any indication, spam will continue to be a problem for bloggers. As long as it gives them a benefit (i.e. traffic and/or backlinks) that outweighs the costs they will continue to find ways to put comments in our blogs. Hopefully platforms like WordPress will be able to introduce tools to reduce spambots. I’m hoping to see a mod that will use nonces to bounce the bots. I don’t know if it would work 100% and there are some other issues with it. But it may be one way to make things harder for them.
In the mean time, we have to continue to be vigilant in our fight against spam. We need to look at our strategy to keep spam out of our blogs while encouraging good communities. It isn’t an easy task, but I believe that it is worth it.
The Next Phase — Moderating
We will have some comments in our moderator queue that the filters and plugins weren’t sure about. There may be some comments that went live when they shouldn’t have. And worst of all, there may be some false positives that were flagged as spam. In the next article will discuss how to handle this.
Today I heard some sad news — Dana Key has passed away at the age of 56.
As I push higher into the decade count in my own life, I have to expect more news like this — those who have been leaders, motivators, encourages and, dare I say, heroes in my life being called home.
Dana was a man who had a heart for God. That was obvious by the music that he and his friend Eddie DeGarmo wrote and performed for so many years. As a young man in college, I remember listening to their albums. I even got to see them in concert once. The music that they performed was backed up by their lives.
If you are a fan of DeGarmo & Key then I know that you will share in my sorrow. But you must also share in the joy of knowing that Dana has been called home. He is with Jesus, the one to whom he dedicated his life 40 years ago. Jesus has welcomed him and acknowledged his faithfulness. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
At this time I would like to express my condolences to Dana’s family, friends and fans. When I was looking up the passage that I wanted to put here in support I ended up looking at the wrong passage. Or did I? Perhaps God directed me to Romans 12 even though that was not where I intended to go. But here I find this verse:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.” Rom 12:1 (NIV)
I think that this sums up what Dana’s music taught me. And I think that Dana lived this verse. And as Paul says in 1 Thes 4:13 (NIV) “Brothers, we do not want yo to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or grieve like the rest of men who have no hope.”
If you do not know this hope for yourself, I know that Dana would join me in urging you to find it. Cry out to God to show you how to have this hope. Ask him to bring people into your life that will guide you. Ask for his holy spirit to give you wisdom. Read the Bible. Find a church group that reveres God’s word. E-mail me. Don’t give up until you know the hope that inspired the music of D&K.
My all time favourite song from D&K is The Pledge. It’s a pretty simple song, but very powerful. Sometimes the simplest things are the most powerful.
It’s a world of choices patterned to confuse.
Distracting little voices whisper what to do.
Searching for the pieces one step from the edge.
Turn your heart toward Jesus. Make this solemn pledge.
He died for me. I’ll live for Him.
Above all lords and regents. He is the King of kings.
I’m pledging my allegiance through these words I sing.
Take this oath of service. Write it on your wall.
It’s our only purpose for living life at all.
He died for me. I’ll live for Him.
He died for me. I’ll live for Him.
He died for me. I’ll live for Him.
by Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key © 1989 DKB Music
Anyone who has a blog knows that comments are magnets for spam. Many bloggers have struggled with ways to deal with spam and I can imagine it becomes harder as your blog becomes more popular, not easier. But lets take a closer look at these comments.
Comment Spam Types
There are several different types of comment spam. Some of it is easy to identify, but spammers are becoming more creative.
1. Blatant Spam — This is obvious spam. It usually has nothing to do with the topic of the post (unless there is a lucky coincidence). It will usually have a couple of links to the websites that the spammer wants to promote. There are even times where the comment is not even in the same language as your post (or even the same character set).
2. Link-o-Rama Spam — This is probably a sub-type of the Blatant spam. But you’ll find that these comments are very long and consist mostly of keyword/link combinations. What is often amazing about these comments is the variety of links.
3. Sneaky Spam — Here we get to the type of spam that is more troublesome. These comments will often be vague (things like ‘Nice post.’ or ‘You write good blogs.’) and flattering (although I’ve seen some that tell me I’m wrong about what I wrote). These are the kind of comments that when we first see them, we think “They love me. They really love me!”. However, over time we begin to realize that these comments are just backlink attempts.
The spammer can get even more sneaky. Rather than just sending generic comments to thousands of blog posts, they scan for keywords and submit comments that fit. It becomes obvious when you have comments about Volkswagen Golf on your golf blog, but these can often be hard to detect.
Some spammers are actually using quotes from the post or other comments to sneak their way in. You do have to give the spammers credit for creativity.
Comment Spam Techniques
Most spam in your blog comes from three different routes.
1. Other Bloggers — These comments are usually the Sneaky Spam types. They come from a blogger who is trying to build backlinks to their site by commenting on as many blogs as possible. However, these comments don’t add anything to the conversation and they often make you wonder whether the poster has even read the article.
2. Outsourced Backlinkers: You can hire people in third world countries who, for a fee, will spend hours commenting on blogs in your name, or at least with your url. These comments are often Sneaky Spam comments but can be Blatant Spam as well.
3. Spambots: The most insidious spam comments come from bots. These bots simply call the appropriate url to submit a comment without even going to your blog page. I know that this happens because my blogs get less traffic than comments on a regular basis. And the comments are often found on posts or pages that Google Analytics shows have received 0 visits.
These are where the Link-o-Rama Spam come from (no one is going to type in that many keywords and links), but a lot of the Blatant and Sneaky types are submitted this way too. On Cookie Crumbles I have some cartoon posts that have received comments like “You write really well …”. There is no way a live person would put that comment there (I hope 8=)
Spambots are getting more clever and will often use keyword searches to determine what comment to put on your blog. You may even find that the comments contain quotes from your article or other comments.
How do we fight back? Comments are a valuable part of blogging and the social web. They are vital for building community. But it takes time to moderate comments. What ways can help us handle the load?
Well, that’s what the next two articles are all about.
In the mean time, tell us all what bothers you most about spam.
Tags: comment spam
While I’m not overly enthusiastic about the name of the program (or the graphics for that matter), I’ve read enough of Justin’s work to be intrigued by the prospects of what is under the hood.
This is a membership site, so you will have to pay a monthly fee to be a member and you will have access to all the content.
From Justin’s description, the lessons are all contained in video format — which I don’t particularly enjoy but YMMV.
There is a currently a trial offer that allows you to look around for 10 days so I plan to take the plunge after the long weekend and see what’s inside.
This is a list of links that for sites and programs listed in my article Stop Wasting My Time! It has been created for people reading the article on EzineArticles since there is a limit of 4 urls in articles posted there.
Note that most of the links in this section are affiliate links.
NOTE: Yaro has removed some of the resources listed. The links to those resources are crossed out but have been left in for historical purposes.
- Membership Site Masterplan (free report
- Membership Site Mastermind program
- “Blue Sky” Survey video which talks about using survey techniques to figure out what your audience will need
- “Slide Show” Travel video. Yaro talks what he did to make money while traveling around the world
- Interview with a very successful client Daniel Scocco. Daniel says his membership site is making $10,000 per month so he must be doing something right.
- Blog Mastermind
- Blog Profits Blueprint (free report)
- Traffic Rush free lessons describing how to use StumbleUpon to generate traffic
- Blogger’s Bible is a series of free lessons for bloggers
I’ve been using the Rogers Rocket Hub (aka Ericcson W35 Broadband Router) for almost 4 months now. I’ve written about it over on HubPages as well as here at Ramblings. One thing that has come up quite regularly in the discussion is the issue of an antenna to boost the signal.
There are 3 basic questions that come up:
- Do I need an antenna?
- Will an antenna boost my speed?
- Where do I get an antenna?
Since I have no need for an antenna in my situation, I don’t really have the experience to answer these questions fully. However, I can give you my take on the first 2 questions and give you a resource for #3. I’ll also give you a contact where you can get more information.
Do I Need an Antenna?
If you are getting a consistent 3G signal to the hub, even if it is only 1 bar, then the quick answer is “no”. I get a consistent signal with my hub located in the basement. It is usually 1 or 2 bars (remember that the unit shows the signal in 1/6th of a bar) and often less than 1. I still get consistent connections and speed.
However, if you’re getting an intermittent signal (or no signal at all) then an antenna may help. Before shelling out for an antenna you might want to try moving the hub to different locations (especially higher in the house). If you still have trouble, you might want to test what kind of signal you can get outside if the weather is co-operating or if you have a Rogers 3G cell phone.
There are indoor and outdoor antennas available although you’ll need to make sure that you have a good quality cable and the proper adapters to connect to the W35. If your signal is really bad then an outdoor antenna is the best choice.
Will an Antenna Boost My Speed?
This question is harder to answer. I get faster than advertised speeds with a relatively weak signal, so I’m not convinced that this will make a difference.
As long as the connection is consistent then the speed you get will likely depend more upon the amount of use the cellular tower you’re connecting too gets.
However, I’ve not tried an antenna and I’m by no means an expert, so take this answer for what it’s worth.
Where Do I Get an Antenna?
I’ve heard from others that Rogers and the Rogers Store personnel are not really up to speed on the antenna issue. They have contracted with another agency to sell and install antennas for clients.
However, was recently contacted by Scott Hampton. Scott is the Marketing/Communications Manager of Powertec Communications. They are responsible for the distribution of the W35 in Australia, the U.K., the U.S. and Canada (and perhaps other parts of the world as well).
He provided me with some links to their web sites to get more information on antennas and other accessories. He has also graciously offered to answer any questions via email.
I’ve also written a HubPage about this. The information there is similar to this page, but there is a growing community of commenters there that often share some great information, so it will be worth checking out as the comments come in.
If you’re interested in using articles to help promote your website, then I’ve discovered an important resource for you. It is Article Dominance written by Mark Thompson (the founder of WordPress Goldmine).
How to Dominate Your Niche Using Articles
This 47 page ebook delves into 5 important topics regarding the use of articles to help your promotional efforts.
Part 1 deals with the concepts surrounding article marketing and explains the intent of using articles and article sites in this manner.
Part 2 gets into the nitty gritty. Here we learn about putting articles together, including such areas as titles, content and resource boxes. He teaches you how to structure your article so that you can get to the point of writing an article of approximately 300 words in 8 minutes. I’m not quite at that point yet, but it sure would be nice!
One area that I disagree with him about is saving the best for your own site. While it is important to have great quality on the site, you don’t want to skimp on what may be the first impression potential clients have of you.
Part 3 deals with selecting the article directories to use and how to maximize the effectiveness by spinning articles to post them to multiple directories.
Part 4 introduces the idea of promotion of the article(s) — all important backlinks that build the article’s weight in the search engines. This is a short section of the book and is more of an overview.
Part 5 is the finish. This is the section where Mark introduces us to automated tools that make things easier. It is also where he talks about leveraging your articles to dominate your niche.
One of the tools that Mark talks about is automated spinners for your articles. I’m not sure if I like that idea, although some of the spinners may do a quality job. Once again, this article may be the first impression that someone has of you and you want it to be good. But, as always, your mileage may vary so it might be worth experimenting with some to see how it works.
Where to Get It
This ebook is a bargain at $17. Don’t miss this opportunity — check it out now!
Most authors are wasting their time producing dozens to hundreds of high quality articles that never reach a fraction of their traffic potential. It’s a darn shame.
When I review the behind-the-scenes traffic statistics on over 20,000 articles that have produced over 1 million monthly page views in my article marketing lab…ONE thing is clear: All articles are not created equal even when everything about them is identical except for the TITLE.
The reason is probably not what you think.
If you’ve been schooled on traditional copywriting, you know that in the offline world, the headline determines as much as 95% of the success of the book or article. This statistic takes into consideration what makes the book title successful: Whether a human buys it or not.
Article Marketing on the Internet is a whole different story because of the way your articles reach humans who have an interest in them.
MYTH: Most people will read your articles because they came to a website and started browsing just like they do if they were to have gone to a local book store to find a book of personal interest.
FACT: Wrong! Most people will search the Internet using one of the major search engines and they will be putting in between 1 to 5 keywords that are related to the topic of the article or information they are looking to locate. The search engines will then deliver results that best match the human’s interest.
YOUR GOAL: To have your articles show up in the search engine results for the keywords and topics that are most related to the content of your article.
You must embrace this TITLE creation & traffic-building truth:
The first 3-5 words of your TITLE determine the success of your article in terms of how much traffic your article will generate back to your website. Success can only be had when you create keyword rich titles for your articles that match the most commonly searched keywords for your topic.
How to determine which keywords are rich and the right ones to use for your article?
You’ll need a keyword research tool. Some are free and some are fee-based. Overture.com has a popular keyword research tool that shows you the most common search results from the Yahoo search engines directory. If you want to see what’s on “Google’s Mind” you can try one of their current beta tools called “Google Suggest”:
Whether you use a web-based keyword research tool or invest in one of the more advanced application level software keyword research tools, it’s critical that you learn know how to do keyword research.
A “Good” vs. “Bad” TITLE Example:
Here is an example of the difference between a non-keyword rich TITLE vs. a very keyword rich TITLE that is proven to perform better in terms of traffic creation:
Bad TITLE Example:
“Top 9 Ways You Can Acquire Fractional Jet Ownership”
Excellent Keyword Rich Title Example:
Fractional Jet Ownership – 9 Strategies to Help You Acquire Your Private Jet
Why is it more effective?
Because it does not waste the first 3 words of the title with meaningless garbage words like “top” or the number “9” or “ways”…and gets right to the important words that might be found when someone is using a search engine to research a topic related to your article.
You’ll also notice in my example that I included the word “Private” Jet. Why? Because my keyword research said that people who search for fractional jet also search for the word “private jet” and therefore I wanted to boost the chances that my title would be found by a larger number of potential visitors to the article.
Two recommendations on what NOT to do:
1) Don’t include garbage characters in your TITLE such as quotes, tildes, asterisks or anything else that a search engines has to work hard to discard in order to understand the TITLE of your article.
2) Do not engage in any search engine spam technique by having keyword rich TITLES that have nothing to do with the topic of your article. You’ll only be hurting yourself as the search engines already aggressively filter out bad behavior like this.
YOUR INTELLIGENT KEYWORD RICH TITLE COPYWRITING CONCLUSION:
If you want to maximize your results from any article marketing strategy, you must master keyword research so that you can create keyword rich and intelligent article TITLES. Your pay off will be massive amounts of traffic to your articles and website thanks to the search engines who love smart keyword rich TITLES!
About The Author:
Christopher M. Knight invites you to submit your best quality original articles for massive exposure to the high-traffic http://EzineArticles.com/ expert author community. When you submit your articles to EzineArticles.com, your articles will be picked up by ezine publishers who will reprint your articles with your content and links intact giving you traffic surges to help you increase your sales. To submit your article, setup a membership account today: http://EzineArticles.com/submit/
(c) Copyright – Christopher M. Knight. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
If you’re ready to take your blogging seriously, take advantage of this special $1 Trial to test out the Become A Blogger Premium video training course. The trial is only open until next Tuesday, so don’t skip this.
Here’s the story behind the course…
You may have heard of these guys – Gideon Shalwick and Yaro Starak – who combined forces to create a training program for people who want to learn how to blog.
It’s hard not to like these guys because Gideon and Yaro give away some amazing stuff without asking for anything in return, including ten free videos that show you how to set up a blog, and the comprehensive Roadmap Report, which is chock-full of advice on how to make money from blogging.
Today, for the first time in 2010, Gideon and Yaro are opening up their Premium video training program, for members only.
This is big news because the course has been shut for six months and lots of people have been eagerly waiting for it to open again.
Over 2,000 people have already participated in the Premium program, so if you want to be one of their next successful members, visit this page.
The Premium program is made up of over 50 videos, delivered to you in a sequence designed to take you from zero, to building a thriving, popular and profitable blog.
Gideon Shalwick is the main teacher for all the how-to videos. He demonstrates to you by recording his screen what you have to do with your computer to learn how to…
- Set up and optimize your blog
- Add powerful plugins
- Create content that search engines and humans will love
- Market your blog so you can build a huge readership
- Make money from your blog using smart profit models
Yaro is your strategic mentor, presenting key lessons on…
- What it really takes to create content people love
- The key mindsets you need to adopt so you succeed
- How to avoid the common mistakes that kill success
- How to leverage multiple streams of income from your blog
- Why you need to look at your blog as a business
Yaro is a very successful online entrepreneur, having made a living online for the last ten years and recently making as much as half a million dollars a year with his blog.
The powerful combination of Gideon teaching you the “how-to” and Yaro explaining the “why it works” results in an incredible learning experience you simply can’t get anywhere else online or offline.
You can see for yourself right here.
To make this decision an absolute no-brainer, you don’t even have to be certain right now that the course is for you.
The guys are offering you the chance to try Become A Blogger Premium for just $1, but the offer is limited and ends next Tuesday.
Sign up today, pay $1, spend the next week exploring the program and if you decide it’s not for you, just cancel and you won’t pay any more.
If you like the program and want to complete the training, do nothing and you will be billed the regular $47 monthly fee for six months to complete the course.
Sign up for your trial today before the offer expires.
Good luck with your blogging!