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Is this Advertising Agency Hiring Comment Spammers?

Just came across this ad (via Dave) on Craigslist which is somewhat concerning. Does it read like they’re looking for a comment spammer to anyone else? Here’s how the ad reads in case it’s removed:

Contract Writing Position for Blogging Campaign
We are an advertising agency that is looking for somebody to work from 2/14 – 2/26 as part of a viral marketing campaign. The job will essentially consist of contributing to a variety of blogs and message boards. Candidates should write well and have the ability to think creatively on their feet. An interest in music and technology is a big plus.

Though this should be a fun job, it is important that the candidate understand the objectives of the campaign, work hard, and go about blogging in a very efficient and organized manner. Tracking when and where comments have been posted is just as important as the comments themselves. It is a full-time position, $10/hour for the tenure of the contract. You will be working at our midtown office location.

Please send a resume as well as writing samples that illustrate creativity.

The ideal candidate would have experience with:

-Blogging
-Viral marketing
-Web marketing
-Excel

Those that are successful in this role will have contract opportunities in the future. We are looking to start interviewing next week.

This is a contract / Freelance position.

Candidate must be located in or have easy access to NY City.

Please email resume and writing samples to:

[email protected]

To be considered, you must include “Blogger” in the subject of the email.

So we’ve got a viral marketing campaign that is based around blogs and message boards – where applicants need to be able to track where comments have been left…..

It’s not quite comment spam – but how close to the line is it?

PS: the same email address has advertised for similar positions previously – here’s another similar one looking for people to promote another startup. At least in this one they say they’re looking for people to do ethical communication in forums and on blogs….

“You will visit these communities and interact with them honestly using good “netiquette” while helping to answer questions by community members. You may also help us with some viral marketing through other Internet forums. We are focused on good ethics and want somebody who can communicate our message ethically and effectively.”

I know this kind of thing has been going on for a while on blogs but it’s interesting to see the advertisments for such positions being advertised more and more.

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. Stropp says:

    Hmmm. Not sure I like the sound of this. I get enough spam on my blog as it is, and while the worst of it gets caught, there are still a few comments that add nothing to the conversation and get through anyway. The problem, as I see it, is that even if the advertising company wants the commentors to act ethically, that the act of getting an income from comments will encourage them not to.

    I guess this was bound to happen eventually.

  2. Trent says:

    It’s completely unsurprising, actually. Blogs can be extremely effective marketing tools if used to promote a concept or a product.

    The problem is that such things are unsustained. As you’ve said time and time again on here, the blogs worth reading and trusting are the ones that have been around 9-12 months (I’m actually knocking myself here, as my blog has just entered month #4 of existence) and have consistently posted quality content over that timeframe. That type of commitment really does take someone special.

    If you hire someone to do “viral marketing” and blogging for just two weeks, what’s the point? You might get a “shock” audience for a brief period, but there is no sustained discussion with an audience, nor a potential to really build one.

  3. Stuart says:

    You have to love the pay rates – anyone who is prepared to do that work for $10.00 and hour isn’t going to be as creative as they might hope.

  4. Dave Starr says:

    Yes Stuart, I noticed that. Wow, gotta hurry and submit my resume’ for this wonderful “opportunity” … Puleeez.

    I also was taken with the line requiring that the successful candidates live in or have easy access to New York City … mystifies me. let’s say, for whatever reason (greed, ignorance ….) a budding blogger applies and is accepted. Why do they have to live in or visit NYC? Only paid with cash, under the table I guess … tax forms, we don’t need no steenking tax forms ….

    It takes all kinds I suppose. For years carnivals and games of chance have boosted profits by paying people to stand in the audience and tell how easy it is to win the games … they are called ‘shills” … and if you think the “big winners” in casinos are not sometimes phonies sent out to liven up the action, winning and losing the house’s money, then I have a bridge to sell you.

    No way to stop this kind of nonsense, just beware, fellow bloggers with integrity.

  5. While that sort of stuff is annoying, I don’t call it spam. Spam looks like what we catch in our Akismet files. Much different.

  6. Gray area marketing, gotta love it. This seems to be more along the lines of “hello, i like your site, please visit my gambling site” vs “buy prescription drugs, buy pre…”

  7. Clever Dude says:

    I’ll definitely have to keep an eye out for these comments. I’ve been blogging for 6 months and my site is picking up steam, but I still get excited when someone leaves me a comment. I’ll be a bit disappointed if I find out it was part of a campaign.

    I have seen some of those ads mentioned by jeremy above though. Spam Karma seems to catch them fairly well though.

  8. Paras says:

    Recently one NASDAQ listed company left spam advertisign comment on 2 posts of myblog. Ofcourse I deleted it & thinking of selecting comment moderation.

  9. Aaron Cook says:

    Personally, I don’t like the sounds of it. And I think it’s somewhat funny that they say, “You will visit these communities and interact with them honestly…”

    …But how can you intereact with people honestly when you have a hidden agenda…money? You cannot, not in my book. Unfortunately, I don’t think they understand what “good ethics” are.

    Dave,

    As for the NYC location thing, they do state earlier in the ad that the person would be working in the midtown office location, therefore, one would have to either live in NYC or have a way to get there in order to actually do the work.

    Shine on,
    Aaron

  10. It seems to me that this is a prime target to flex blogosphere muscle. Let’s find out who this is and what this job is really about. If it’s on the up-and-up, we leave it alone. If it’s not, we shut down virally. And perhaps make a dent in the company as well. We don’t have to be victims here.

  11. Jim Logan says:

    Whether or not we cal it spam, it’s wrong. It lacks sincerity. It’s fabricated. And it’s pervasive.

    I liken this to blog networks who join together and vote their posts up on Digg.

    It’s manipulation.

  12. Seopher says:

    Darren,

    this sort of thing isn’t terribly uncommon and can be quite different to spam. Quite often people advertise for people to help spread their campaigns, by posting comments about the product/service.

    Yes it’s a fine line but I don’t mind people joining relevent forums/commenting against blogs within that niche because they should be writing genuine, relevent content rather than emulating a spam bot.

    Besides, it’s nothing that SEO dudes haven’t been doing for ages.

  13. holch says:

    Come on! $10 per hour in New York? That must be without paying tax. Who will be able to live with $10 per hour in New York or around it???

  14. The good news is if they are all commenting from the same office space, and they don’t seem very bright, then the crew over at akismet can slap a ip ban on the project and kill the effort from the root so all of the comments to any wordpress or akismet filtered blog will get yanked at the source.

    Brad

  15. Declan says:

    The thing that surprises me is that the ‘job’ is being offered in the US. Haven’t they heard of cheap labor in India where people will happily work for a quarter of that rate?

    I have a form on one of my sites with a ‘captcha’ graphic that still manages to get up 7 or 8 spam messages a day. That to me suggests that somebody is manually spamming the form and most likely getting paid for it.

  16. Jen says:

    The part of this whole deal that I find most interesting, actually, is the fine line between Ad #2 (probably ethical, if cynical) and Ad#1 (probably unethical, since it’s hard to find a more charitable interpretation of that wording). It’s a very slippery slope, indeed.

  17. Johnny says:

    I think I will stick to trucking for $25 an hour!

  18. Shane says:

    Looks like somebody just created the first pay-per-comment sweatshop.

    I picture dozens of people shackled to computer workstations, typing comments for 14 hours a day.

  19. Jill says:

    This has been going on for years— since before blogging came into its’ own even— particularly throughout the entertainment industry. The ProBlogger job board has even contained at least one posting for a job far more insidious than this one.

  20. Dave Starr says:

    Hmmm, my bad for not having my Constant Comment set up right … so don’t know if anyone will ever be back to read this … but @ Aaron:
    ————-
    Dave,

    As for the NYC location thing, they do state earlier in the ad that the person would be working in the midtown office location, therefore, one would have to either live in NYC or have a way to get there in order to actually do the work.
    ————–
    Yes, Aaron,, I read that part and that is my question … forget if this job is shady, legit, or outstanding, if you hire somebody to visit web sites or blogs, then why would they have to physically sit in someones office … in NYC or anywhere else? That’s the thing that ‘wonders” me quite a bit about a number of companies who in one way seem to “get” the on-line community yet in another seem to have no … last I looked I can visit blogs from nearly anywhere … and if it’s a time accounting problem, well, that’s what they have dozens of freeware and commercially available time tracking programs for to prove what a person was doing on line …. note to self, must install one to track my own time reading and commenting on blogs LoL.

    If voice contact is needed, Yahoo messenger, Skype, a whole panoply of free computer to computer voice utilities out there so the supervisor can give voice direction or “pep” talks if that’s required. No biggy, just didn’t seem like a very on-line way of looking at things.

    Best regards
    Dave

  21. I wonder if anyone could find out more details about what exactly was intended with this job offer. Perhaps someone in the NY area can ‘apply’ and find out if there is another one of these posted.

  22. Nearly everyone here is linking back to their own site. Nothing wrong with a little bit of cross promotion. People post a comment, it helps keep the page fresh and higher up in the serps for the writer/website. In return you offer a link back if wanted. That said, just posting tons of links as comments is annoying and not helpful.