Learn What Blog SPAM is and How to Avoid It?
Many years ago, when people were enjoying the freedom of online communication, email SPAM has arrived. It changed the internet forever. Companies started losing millions of dollars, because of it. People have become more aware and started using various SPAM filters to eliminate unsolicited email advertising, this way decreasing email reading rates. And despite all that, SPAM still exists and it’s still a huge problem all over the world.
However, those who think that there can’t be anything worse than email SPAM, should be unpleasantly surprised. Recently, a new form of SPAM has shaked the internet community. It’s called – blog comment SPAM.
What is Blog Comment SPAM?
You have probably already seen blog SPAM on the internet, if you tried to open some kind of blog archive. Instead of seeing comments about a recent author’s post, you could see hundreds of posts that contain nothing more except URLs to various pharmacy or online gambling related sites. A page that contains comment SPAM, usually loads pretty slow, even on broadband connection, due to the number of comments added.
As you can understand, such comments do not do anything good for the rest of us. First of all, it’s a big problem to the author of a blog, because he has to take time to delete inappropriate comments by himself. However, as a practice shows, many blog authors don’t bother to delete posted comments. And nobody can blame them. It’s pretty hard to do that, when you receive hundreds of posts daily.
Second of all, it’s the internet itself. Web is already full of spammy and crappy websites that exist for any other purpose except providing valuable content, services and products to the users. No one needs another wave of crappy content online.
What’s the Purpose of Blog Comment SPAM?
Just like email SPAM, blog comment SPAM has one purpose only – promote spammer’s website and make him money, the easy way.
A small group of people who are spamming blogs are affiliates of various xxx, gambling, pharmacy related companies. These affiliates put up redirect scripts with their affiliate id’s on websites that lead to the company’s site. That way, they hope to get some clicks from blogs and make sales.
However, there’s another group of people that form the majority of spammers. They are webmasters.
These people put static links to their websites hoping to get inbound links and rank higher in the SERPs. Sad, but it actually works. Some crappy affiliate or webmaster sites sometimes rank higher in the search engines than quality websites that provide real content to their visitors. And when you try to look who links to such sites, by putting link: variable into search engine search field, you can see that those are mainly links from various blog archives.
Who Should Fight Blog SPAM?
It’s obvious that something has to be done about blog SPAM. One thought is that major search engines should pay attention to this spreading online disease. Just as engines started fighting Meta-Tag abuse or invisible content SPAM, they could turn to fighting blog SPAM. Maybe, one of the possible solutions would be making the value of links in comments less valuable.
Blog scripts, software, service providers and creators (like Moveable Type, WordPress, Blogger, etc.) should also try adopting various anti-SPAM solutions.
As a matter of fact, Moveable Type has released a new version of its script that already includes various comment SPAM fighting solutions. WordPress also has some blacklisting features enabled. Hopefully, smaller creators will follow the trend and start fighting the comment SPAM too.
What Can We Do About It?
Hopefully major search engines and blog creators will take real steps to stop blog comment spamming. However, the rest of us should not sit and wait for someone else to do it. Because weblogs do not give webmasters permission or any moral rights to advertise their sites using comments.
So what are the possible solutions to this problem?
- Make People Register Before Posting Comments.
Those who actively participate in the blog, read often, post comments, won’t mind registering. However, new readers might definitely be distracted. Would you like to register before posting a thought whenever you find a new interesting blog? Probably not.
- Make People Confirm Their Post by Email.
This is one of the easiest solutions. However, not very effective. While real users won’t have problems confirming their posts, it won’t stop spammers though. It won’t prevent them from registering free email accounts in order to get the desired link.
- Using Auto-Generated Images
Just as webmasters use images in contact forms (CAPTCHAs) to prevent automatic form submissions, it is possible to adopt such technique in blogs. It might definitely stop auto submissions, but “real” spammers will not be distracted.
This will definitely distract many from posting comments for inbound link purposes.
- Using nofollow Attribute
It’s actually easy to do. It’s simple HTML. Instead of using normal link<a href=”site.com”>link</a>you could use<a href=”site.com” rel=”nofollow”>link</a>. This tells search engines not to follow the link, which leads to a Spammer’s website. This method doesn’t pass PR either.
- Eliminating Active Links From Comments
This will of course completely eliminate the purpose of posting for Google pagerank, but will not stop those why try to show their URL to the world at any cost, hoping to get some interested visitors copying their URL, pasting into the address bar and visiting the website.
- Preventing Any Kind of Links in Comments
Active or passive. For programmers it shouldn’t be a hard task to do. In every comment field (name, email, comments) the script could check for such variables as “http”, “www” or “.com, .net, .org” etc. Whenever the script is triggered, it could block the comment from being posted. However, problems will occur, if someone wants to share some useful links in blog.
- Stopping Comments Themselves
That’s the easiest solution. Many blog services or scripts allow you to do that already. However, if you want to build a discussion with your community, this option is not good for you.
As you can see, it is possible to employ different solutions to fight blog comment SPAM, however, each of them has their pros and cons. But there’s another thing that can possibly help solving the problem.
Blacklisting Comment SPAM
More and more websites appear that offer blacklists containing websites promoted by spammers. It could be quite effective, if ISPs started paying their attention to those blacklists.
This is the problem of the whole web community, so everybody who finds blog SPAM should not ignore it. If you see such websites being promoted, don’t be lazy and take your time to report ISPs about one or another website that uses unethical techniques to advertise their website.
It can be quite effective, because there are many cases when ISPs shut down spammers’ accounts, because of that. It’s also possible to report it to the merchants that pay spammers their affiliate commissions, so spammers would lose their income source.
However, this is risky. Blog comment SPAM can be easily sabotaged. Competitors might submit your site to different blogs, using the keywords that should benefit your rankings. Others might think that you have submitted your site and report your ISP, while it’s actually not your fault.
Blog authors could also mention on their blogs that if spammers try to post their websites, they will be reported to their ISPs. This should make many of them to stop and think carefully before taking any steps.
Blog comment SPAM is becoming bigger and bigger problem all over the web. If the internet community will not take actions to stop it, blog SPAM will flood the internet and ruin the whole experience of using the internet.
If internet surfers will not ignore this fact and actually take every possible action, including those mentioned above, to fight spammers, we might as well clean up the internet from a new form of web garbage.