Close
Close

Letting Comment Spam Take Over Your Blog – How to Let Your Blog Go #5

Let-Your-Blog-GoOne of the saddest things that I see on blogs is where a blogger completely gives up on staying on top of comment spam.

You dig into their archives searching for information and expertise on their topic only to find their comments section completely riddled with comments that range from annoying self promotion, to links to prescription drug sites, home loan offers, affiliate products, porn, dead links and any other manner of gutter/trash sites.

I can totally understand why a blogger might feel tempted to give up on moderating comment spam on one level – however would strongly advise against taking this course of action for two main reasons:

1. Blog Objectives and Brand - everything that appears on your website either adds to or takes away from the objectives you’re attempting to achieve on your blog. It also impacts your blog’s brand and reputation.

As bloggers, you and I know what comment spam is and how hard it is to keep it off our blogs – but the average person using the web only sees the comments and links in your comments as part of your site and many of them will associate it with you.

At the very least it shows you to be someone who doesn’t care enough to keep your site in good shape – at worst (to the uneducated) it could create a perception that you’re promoting the links others leave on your blog.

2. SEO – Point #1 is my main concern but I suspect there is also another impact of comment spam on your blog. I recently arrived on another blog’s post that had 101 comments on it – 95 of which were comment spam. I did a word count of the page and found that the whole page had 1552 words on it. The post itself have 210 words, the rest (1342) were the comments.

What had been a page with a tightly defined focus in the eyes of search engines had become a site that had more words associated with porn, gambling and drugs than the topic at hand. Not only this the comments didn’t have no follow tags on their links and pointed to all manner of dodgy sites and dead links.

Google doesn’t like links that don’t lead anywhere and frown even more on links pointing to ‘bad neighborhoods’ – I can only imagine the impact that comment spam had upon this posts search engine ranking.

Solution: Today’s ‘solution’ comes in two parts.

1. Clean up your comment spam – two years ago it was brought to my attention that one of my old blogs had become infested with comment spam. I’d not noticed it because the email address that I’d used to notify me of new comments on that blog had stopped working for a few months. I was confronted with thousands of spam comments throughout hundreds of posts. The only solution for me was to clean it up. It took me most of a day to do it but I went through every post on that blog and deleted comments manually. it was a job that sucked – but I got them all!

2. Determine a Comment Spam Strategy - the second half of the comment spam solution is to work out what you’re going to do about future comment spam. There are a variety of options open to you including:

  • Moderate All Comments Manually – switch comments to manual moderation and manually approve all comments
  • Use Comment Spam Moderation Tools – there are a variety of tools out there that can help you moderate comments. The most common of these is Akismet (although even this won’t stop them all). Most blog platforms also have different levels of moderation built in. For example here at ProBlogger I queue all first time commenters for moderation.
  • Outsource Comment Moderation - not an ideal solution if you want to be aware of everything happening on your blog but this is becoming a more common solution for bigger blogs who assign someone the task of moderating all comments.
  • Turn Off Comments - a fairly extreme step but it’s something that numerous bloggers have resorted to. This isn’t my preferred solution however I’d do this before letting spammers take over my blog completely.
  • Turn off Comments to Old Posts – a less extreme solution is to not allow comments on posts older than XXX weeks/months. The theory is that older posts attract less organic conversation so once you’ve given everyone a chance to comment on posts you switch them off.

What NOT to do about Comment Spam

Please don’t take an ‘ignore it and it will go away’ approach with comment spam. From what I’ve seen ignoring comment spam can actually make the problem worse as I’ve heard from some that there are lists that circulate among spammers that contain blogs that don’t moderate comments and even posts with certain keywords that they should target. Allowing one comment spam to slip through can actually lead to a deluge of them in future.

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.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Case Stevens says:

    I can relate to the topic!
    I use DO follow (because I sincerely believe that great free content should be rewarded) and all I ask for is to link to valuable Content!

    Thousands of comment spams and the ones linking to unwanted topics like porn of viagra are the easiest to delete and blacklist.

    It’s the ones that deliberately link to affiliate and sales pages, brand new blogs (some even without a single posts, just the WordPress template things) and catalogues that are difficult to manage.

    Although it still takes a lot of time to weed these out, I’ve now installed a plugin that let me keep the valuable comments and NOfollow their links.

    Works like charm. :-)

  2. Ian Romaine says:

    I’ve only just started to receive comments on my own blog but I can quickly see the potential time that could be involved if you’re deluged with spam.

    I’ve chosen to moderate every comment on every post because I’m also concerned about the prospects of libel — if a comment included something libellous and it had been published on my blog, my understanding is that I, as the blog’s publisher, could be held accountable for any libel writ in the same way a newspaper (rather than a specific journalist) is in the mainstream media.

  3. mnop says:

    I have the same problem as well. Finally I’ve decided that I turn off the comments when it one month old except those on the sidebar.

  4. bebizzy says:

    That’s interesting… I was just having a discussion with a colleague about a rash of comment spam sent early this morning to a blog he writes. One post generated at least 20 spam comments, so this article was timely and informative.

  5. Rachel says:

    Helpful, Thanks. Still don’t understand how to STOP the robot spam comments from coming in in the first place.

  6. Avyaya says:

    Thats a very valuable note to keep an eye on. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Shanel Yang says:

    As a new blogger, I must say I’m envious of this problem and look forward to having to deal with it someday soon! ; )

  8. Raag Vamdatt says:

    Can’t agree more with point no. 1: The image or the brand of your blog is the most important thing, especially if you are writing as an authority in your field. That is what builds the trust of your readers.

    If comments contain irrelevant stuff (or stuff that is outright wrong), it would reduce the credibility of your website.

    I write in depth articles about personal finance, and credibility is very important here coz the topic deals with money!

    I employ a technique not mentioned by Darren:

    On my site, readers can register, and can log-in using their ID and password. And I allow only logged-in users to comment.

    Yes, this means a far lesser number of comments. But it also means that the comments are relevant, and come only from people who are actually interested in the topic being discussed!

    This means I spend less time moderating comments, and more time researching and writing my articles!

  9. When I was at Blogger, I rarely received any comment spam. Over at WordPress, I’m amazed at the number of spammy comments that are caught with Askimet.

  10. I think I go with Ian, moderating your comments manually may be the best option

  11. Rob says:

    Comment spam is a big problem for me over at CSSnewbie. I ignored my comments for an entire week, and then had to spend over an hour yesterday cleaning out the spam! I had over 650 useless comments to sort through.

    On the plus side, my blog is back to being relatively spam-free. On the down side, I’ve added some more “blacklist” words to the list to help hold back the tide: you can no longer mention “tickets” or “preteens” in my comments. :)

  12. Most annoying about finding blogs like that, is often, they’ve got some pretty good content.. and if they’d just be proactive, with the tips you outlined, comment SPAM can be easily managed.

    Great tips!

    Maria Reyes-McDavis

  13. Jason Mosley says:

    After reading this post I got worried that I let some spam slip though. So I went and scanned thought about 30 pages of comments. I only found 2-3 that were spam.

    What was more interesting was reading the real comments and remembering conversations you had a year ago. It’s fun to see how your ideas evolved via comments.

    It also reminds you why you have a blog in the first place.

    ——————
    Jason Mosley
    Enjoy Bacon!

  14. Elise says:

    Even if you think you are on top of comment spam, it can still creep in. Sometimes commenters who leave their blog URL in your comment form will abandon their blogs and their domain names. Usually this just results in the link now going to a dead site. Sometimes it goes to a 404 page. Sometimes the “dead” site it goes to is riddled with spam, so it looks to Google like you are linking to a spammy site. Sometimes enterprising spammers buy up dead domain names and now that link on your site, the one that came from that nice blogger a year ago, is going to a full-blown spam site.

  15. Ian says:

    I use Gmail, one label with a WordPress keyword filter on it. I find this makes life so much easier.

    Right now most of my comments are spam, and I don’t have time to delete them all, so I have moderation on. I check my gmail while I am awake probably at least once an hour on average. All WordPress mail comes in with a WordPress label. I quickly click on it and if it’s spam I delete the email and forget about it. This keeps me up to date. If the comment is real however I log into wordpress and approve it right away.

    Then about once a week I go into WordPress and delete all the spams that are awaiting moderation. I can safely assume they are all spam, because I have been approving all the ones that are not spam all week. Works great for me.

  16. Rick says:

    My site doesn’t generate the amount of comments yet to the point that it is unmanageable, but I have experienced the aggravation of comment spam. I am a firm believer of reader interaction and welcome comments of any kind. WordPress does identify some of the spam successfully, but not all of it. The idea Darren presented of shutting down comments on old posts is a good one. Thanks Darren!
    Rick

  17. Asat says:

    I am a newbie in blogging and Problogger had been suggested by a friend of mine, Avyaya. I really loved the way you provided a helping hand for so many newbies like me. Thanks for sharing this information.

    You are bookmarked.

  18. Sue says:

    My readers aren’t bloggers, so I don’t get too many comments. Once a month I turn off comments and pingbacks on all posts older than a month, through a MySQL query. And although I don’t moderate or require registration, I do use a captcha plugin, Akismet and Bad Behavior to eliminate all spam. What they don’t catch on occasion, I just delete. If it’s someone advertising relevant products, I email them and advise them they can buy an ad, but their comment has been pulled.

    I also use a great plugin, no-follow case by case, so if I do actually get a comment (rare), I can determine whether they can get link love or not.

  19. I must agree with Shanel Yang that this is similar to a movie star having too many fans. Those of you that receive that many comments must feel special; I do understand the frustrations that you might be going through dealing with all that useless material when you could be spending time more effectively. It goes back to the basics; good comments are good; bad ones are bad!

  20. GaryJay says:

    New to blogging—-so what DO Search Engines look for?

  21. Ryan McLean says:

    Great post,
    Comment spam is the devil of the blogging world. I use manual comment moderation on my site, but it is a small (yet building) site and I dont get a large amount of comments (yet)

  22. Slevi says:

    I keep open comments on all entries and have dofollow enabled, so it’s spammers heaven really… if only they were to get through :).

    Akismet handles a great load of keeping the trash out but as some comments do manage to get by Akismet I have manual comment moderation on as well on a first post basis.

    Approved once and you’re instantly through though so legit commenters just have to wait once.

  23. Chris W says:

    This post came as a welcome reminder. Most of my posts only receive a maximum of 20 comments each, so it’s fairly easy to keep up with comment spam, but I’ve just been into one particularly popular post and removed most of the self-promotional comments. That was one of the first posts I wrote and had forgotten about it for ages (and was also a bit more lenient with what got through then). Thankfully, none were porn/viagra/casinos.

    Agree with elise and Case Stevens in previous comments. You think you monitor the comments and still a few dodgy ones will creep in.

  24. QuickGold says:

    My blog was once attacked by those robot spammers who posted links full of pornographic contents.

    What I did was moderate the comments manually and make my ‘Leave a Reply’ block on other pages. But, I didn’t receive much comments after that. So, I switch the ‘Leave a Reply’ back to my blog and hopes that I’ll receive some comments back.

    Anyway, thanks again for the tips.

  25. Ari Herzog says:

    Rachel: Robotic spam comments? You don’t have a verification code one must manually type in before hitting submit?

    Raag Vamdatt: I frequent several sites (though I am sure there are thousands more) which utilize a comment registration system. Do you find that people who post comments are writing more in first person, i.e. I this, I that; and is there an ability for interactive commenting?

    Ian: As I use Blogger, does WordPress allow you to moderate comments on the site? If so, as Blogger does, why do you prefer to do so via email?

  26. ITrush says:

    Nice post, very informative. Thanks for sharing your the tips of how to get rid of comment spam.

    nhick
    http://www.itrush.com

  27. Raag Vamdatt says:

    Ari Herzoq: I see people writing usually in 1st person. And yes, people can always interact through comments.

    For example, what we are doing here (talking thru comments) can be done even when there is a comment registration system.

    The registration system just adds a layer of security. Otherwise, the entire experience remains the same.

  28. What surprises me most, is that when browsing through the archives of some really popular blogs, I find a couple of spam comments.

  29. Martin says:

    As someone who has left quite a few unfinished ideas rot in the dust — I think WordPress should come with a suicide mode ; helping the world become a better place less cluttered place.

    If you don’t blog for more than a month or so it should just send you a brief e-mail telling you that its closing up and that its sorry that things didn’t work out.

    Of course, the first thing I would do is disable to suicide switch, so never mind.

  30. shemer says:

    If you dont like those spam comments I suggest and I currently use spamwow, which stops those pesty spammers, It is by far the best one out there!

  31. Thanks for the tips all sounds are good i got more necessary information I always keep in mind.