I can understand spam comments that are links to stupid sites, gambling, porn, whatever. What I don’t get are comments that don’t even have links, or link to something completely benign like google.com. What’s the inside scoop, blogmaster Dave?
“Blogmaster Dave”? Is that my rapper name? I kinda like it, actually. Maybe I should write this entire post as a ghetto rap with all the appropriate slang and imagery.
No, maybe not so much.
But back to spammers and blogging. Yeah, it’s a constant hassle and when you have a popular blog, you can easily see 1000 or more comments show up daily, making it tricky to pick out the legit comments from the spam.
Having said that, tools like Akismet are critical to have installed and without them it can be a disaster: you really don’t want to go through even 100 comments manually!
Thing of it is, spammers are smart. So while there are overt, dumb and obvious spam comments like this:
Not sure it’s spam? Look at the page it’s been left on: The topic is configuring Microsoft Outlook 2003. Pretty sure that people who read that aren’t looking for a list of foods to eat that will help them lose weight. 🙂
That one’s obvious, and the spam site that is the target of this effort is the shortened URL “ge.tt”. Usually it’s a longer URL, but you can see that just under the “name” value on the left.
Where things get a bit more puzzling is when you see a comment like this:
So here’s one where the person’s gone through the effort of entering data into their comment spam tool (or, less likely, come to my site and manually typed this in) and it links to Google.com.
What the deuce?
My theory on this is that it’s someone experimenting with whatever tool helps make these comments easy to drop on a few hundred blogs but is afraid to link to their actual blog yet. A test. And a dumb one.
Or is it?
Consider this spam comment on this very blog:
There’s no URL, there’s no keyword phrase. What’s the scoop?
What both “John” and “google” are doing in these comments is subtle: when new comments are posted to a blog, they are scored against a number of criteria including whether someone with that email address has previously had a comment approved.
Ahhh… now you’re starting to understand what’s going on here. These aren’t so much benign comments but a sort of digital advance party running a few hours, a day or even a week ahead of the main flurry of spam. Approve some of these dumb comments because, well, they’re comments, and next thing you know “firstname.lastname@example.org” and “email@example.com” will be splashing their spammy junk all over your site. And likely WordPress will approve and publish them all instantly because they’re approved commenters.
Sneaky, isn’t it?
The solution is to mark any comment that’s not a genuine addition to the discussion on your site as spam and get rid of it. Don’t give these people the benefit of the doubt because they sure as heck aren’t going to give you the benefit of the doubt when they fire up their little spam tools.
So now you know. Be vigilant out there!