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Fixing Comment Spam with Stars

Jason Calacanis posted a couple of days ago on Weblogs Inc’s new Comment Spam Fix – The Star System – which allows bloggers to award commenters ‘stars’ for productive comments. They have the new system up and working at TV Squad and it seems to be being received pretty well.

I’ve been reflecting on this new system for a couple of days and watching to see how it works. Here are some initial thoughts:

  • It won’t kill automated comment spam – this is a system that is not designed to stop the mass automated spam that many bloggers get. As Jason says in his post – its aimed more at individuals leaving ‘genuine’ comments that link to questionable sites or that are commenters having conversations with themselves in order to promote a product. Weblogs Inc already has a system in place to combat the mass automated spammers so that wasn’t the purpose of this system.
  • It will encourage comments and blog stickiness – TV Squad is offering $100 for the highest rated commenter in May ($50 for second place). I’ll bet any money on the fact that they’ll have more comments this month than normal. It’s not just about the prize though – the incentive to get ‘stars’ is also about getting listed on the ‘top contributers’ list which is partly about status but also if you’ve got a website gets your site listed which will bring in some traffic and increase your page rank. Increase comments has a flow on effect to the rest of the site – it can help build community, will increase repeat readers to the site (increasing impressions and earnings) and increases the amount of content on each page which might help with their SEO.
  • Could it increase spam? – comment spam is basically about getting as many of your links on as many other sites as possible to build page rank. Comments are an easy target for this. Whilst I look at what Weblogs Inc are doing and think ‘brilliant’ part of me is left wondering if they might have just given spammers even more incentive to leave spam comments. Is offering $100 and a link on every page on the blog like dangling a carrot in front of a rabbit? Whilst they will no doubt increase their genuine comments, I wonder if this might also increase the amount of comments that they are deleting every month (which sort of defeats the purpose of the system).

I think the system is great – it could be improved by giving other readers the ability to award stars (thus lightening the load of authors on the admin) – but overall I think its very innovative. I’m not completely convinced it will wipe out comment spam on their blogs, in fact it could increase the admin of comments – however the benefits will be that it makes their blogs more sticky – something most bloggers would love to do.

Update: pc4media has a review of Weblogs inc’s new comment system also.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Andy says:

    Interesting idea. It still needs a rigorous ‘behind the scenes’ system for spam (such as the excellent Spam Karma 2, which will handle dubious manual posts as well as the flood of auto-spam)

  2. Wow, full circle. Slashdot did this first — reputation based — with the ability for “logged in” members to be able to have a preference for comments that pass a certain quality threshhold. I host a crazy site — an AdWords and SEO feeder site — http://www.memes.org — that is a CMS that allows (if I were to enable it) “moderation of comments” just like Slashdot (SlashCode) — it is an app I like called PostNuke… but CMSes with workflow and so forth are very diff from blogs… but I daresay, there is a lot that the two can learn from each other.

  3. John says:

    Oddly enough, Andy, I fell foul of Spam Karma on this very site after signing up with Google’s Web Accelerator. My logs showed me as having a new IP address beginning 72. As soon as I uninstalled GWA I was able to comment normally again. Strange business.

  4. Duncan Riley says:

    The key phrase here is
    “It will encourage comments and blog stickiness”
    Whilst I understand why Jason is marketing this as a spam combatter it really is nothing more that a way of rewarding people for commenting, but don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising him for this, its a brilliant idea, but he should own up to the real intent, which is to encourage more interaction and therefore more traffic.

  5. Jason says:

    Spam features will be annouced shortly… there are many.

    people will be able to get–gulp–negative stars!

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