Spotting comment spammers and link droppers

I have an existing policy on comments on this blog, you can see it at the bottom of this post. For those too lazy to scroll down, here it is, with a link to a little rant of mine some time back.

Please do not spam or post multiple urls to your site or sites you earn from. All comments are moderated.
Your comments are your own. I reserve the right to edit anything I find objectionable. This includes the use of anchor text, links to moody stuff etc. If you don’t like these terms, then please go elsewhere, do not self promote or
promote others. Say something that adds to the conversation. Spammy me2’s and yeah I agrees aren’t welcome.

Seems fairly straightforward if you ask me, yet people still try it on and expect me to just let things slide. So to help reinforce this I just thought I’d update things a little to help account for some of the more imaginative ways that people are trying to get these things called links and anchor text.

Hey, let me get things straight here 1st, I have no problem in the world with people being creative and finding ways to promote themselves or their clients. I do it daily, it’s called link building. Lots of others do it too, it’s the way of the search marketing world.

Blog comments are a great way of getting yourself out there. Heck, I should do it more too, but I don’t, because most of the time I’m too damn busy doing stuff that will, over time get links anyway, its called building good useful content.

 Lately see, I’m getting comments from people who turn up and call themselves all manner of names full of anchor text to TLD’s and client promotional stuff. 

Let’s just make it clear here. I really don’t want those types of commenters here. 

When you turn up and drop a link to your stuff 1st time with your anchor text to your site then straight away my hackles are up. Even if your comment is good I find myself thinking hold on a minute, this cheeky bastard thinks I was born yesterday, they think I’m gonna let their link stand. Uh uh, no way. If you comment on my blog and are respectful enough to have engaged in a thread or two, then you know what – I might just think to myself, hell I like this person, I like their style. As a result I’ll probably write about you at some point too and tell people how cool you are and why they should go and look at your stuff. I just won’t be mugged off by people who think ooh cool this is a dofollow blog, I’ll dive in there and get a free juicy anchor text link.

So as a little helper I thought I’d share 3 small observations I’d noticed, hell maybe it’ll help strengthen a plugin or two.

I won’t mention the obvious ones like links to Pr0n or Ph4rms or G4mbling type sites they are easy.

3 red flags for dodgy comments

  1. 1st time commenter has a name  like ‘Electrical cool Gadgets’

    Not many people were christened with this monicker. It’s most unusual. There have been isolated reports of forward thinking SEM’s naming their kids Viagra or Cilais or Ringtone Julie, but generally these are in the minority and are a pretty good indicator of some kind of spammy activity.

    Where I see these, if the topic is on target, then I’ll generally delink their URL and delete their email address from their comment. This prevents them from attaining approved commenter status and allows me to moderate any subsequent incursions.

  2. The commenter links to a non blog website.

    Blogs for me, are a conversational medium.Whilst not everyone has a website or a blog, some people see blog comments (especially dofollow) as an easy target for a link back to their or their clients URL. If a commenter isn’t linking back to theirblog, then it could be a case of them trying to use you for a one stop singular IP link back.

  3. The comment is short and praiseworthy but not much else.

    Akismet catches most of this stuff, but sometimes it slips through. Don’t let your ego fool you. A person wading in with a ‘hey great post thanks’ type message, isn’t necessarily sincere. They are most likely just trying to rump you for a linkback. Be mean, be ruthless, delink their ass.

 There are others, some are funny and some where you’ll just have to use a degree of commonsense  decide for yourself.

  •  Free email addresses not related to the blog

    Not all free email addresses are red flags for example. I use a hotmail account for this blog, its just easier to manage. I sign all my comments with my url and my hotmail address.

  • Dumbass email addresses that shout hey I’m gaming you

    One recent commenter was dumb enough to use an address of linkbuilder@someseocompany.com which sort of made me laugh, but is probably an exception rather than a rule. One guy who is aligned to a well known comment spamming system discussed in the blogosphere recently had the shortsightedness to use an email address which helped me identify him as just that. Suffice to say his IP address was duly noted.

  • Iffy looking TLD (domain extentions)

    Look out for TLD’s like .info or .ru or .cn or any other number of obscure cheaply acquired mass abused domain extentions. Most (not all) are fine purveyors of spam who will link to stuff that might look ok, yet might be switched to something dodgy at a later date.

  • Thin or shallow content.

    Is the person you are linking to for real? Maybe their blog or website looks a little thin on content and substance, yet on the whole it isn’t too bad or innocuous. be cautious with this as it could be a bait and switch waiting to happen. 2 months down the road the guy decides to redirect the traffic to his latest money making program or worse still something morally objectionable.

It goes without saying of course that ultimately it’s all about what people say and how they say it. I’m all up for rewarding my commenters with a little link love, it’s one of the reasons why I removed nofollow from this blog and why I installed the top commenters plugin too (see sidebar). A good commenter will take the time to read what you have said and offer a genuine considered view on your perspective. Their interest in what you’ve written will in most cases shine through.

It isn’t always easy though and there are lots of borderline cases that make you wince a little and think…hmmn I’m not sure about this one. No one wants to alienate a genuine commenter, well not me anyways.

Heck its clear that there is certainly a need for some kind of network lookup plugin that periodically checks the content that you link to for dodgy words or imagery. Maybe those smart chaps at wordpress can come up with something useful, maybe I could even if I weren’t so lazy  😉

What do you do to identify your comment spammers? Do you even think twice about the name they use, or the type of stuff they link to?

Rob Watts
Kickstart your business today - Get an SEO Consultation or just talk to Rob about your online aspirations. With over 20 years experience in building traffic he's pretty much encountered most markets and scenarios
Posted on: 31st July 2007, by : Rob Watts

31 thoughts on “Spotting comment spammers and link droppers

  1. Well that sucks… It sucks for me as well because I’ve been using the nickname Hawaii SEO for years but my handle is starting to look more like spam these days.

    I never intended it to be “comment signature anchor text” because most people didn’t have blogs back when I started using it.

    What do you think… Is it time I renamed myself?

  2. Hi Dave

    I wouldn’t put you in that Category at all. In fact you might have noticed that i even edited your comment to change it back 😉

    It is beginning to be a problem though isn’t it?

    I signed off on a blog comment the other day and was going to link through to a post I did on SEO advice with some appropriate anchor text. The blog owner knows me fairly well too and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have minded, yet what with all this comment spam nonsense going on I didn’t feel entirely comfortable about it.

    I think really it sort of depends ont he type of post your commenting on too. If you are commenting on a post about SEO in Hawaii or a related area then maybe it looks just fine. However, if you are commneting on a post about cheesy savoury snacks or famine in africa then i guess it might looka little out of place.

  3. Hey! I have an info, and it’s not for nefarious reasons. It wasn’t that cheap, either. It was because I actually intended to put a site on there which was full of.. guess.. no go on guess! INFO! 🙂

    However, I never quite got around to it and really all that’s there is my scambaiting audios and a forum which I don’t use much except to post scambaits. So not all infos are bad – or cheap!

    My blog is an org but my email is an info, is that going to be an issue? It’s just easier to work it that way at the moment..

    But I have to say I’m starting to feel a little upset about the whole topic of commenting. I like to put a text link (not anchor text, just a text link) under my name. I especially like to do it on blogger because blogger links you back to the profile of the blogger and not their blog. It’s just easier for people to copy and paste if they want to read more of you once you’ve commented.

    However apparently this is not the done thing on WordPress blogs, because if the wordpress user is using Akismet it tends to dump you in the spam bin. But on the other hand, not every user on the internet knows that if you click on someones name it takes you to their blog – incredible but true. So then you lose potential readers who enjoyed your comment but don’t know where to find you.

    I guess my name is fairly unique, google Snoskred and I’m number one. Snoskred means Avalanche in Norwegian so I am competing with a bit of snow from time to time. But if I don’t give the link, will people search? People used to search before I put the link there, my name was the number one search term.

    Oddly, I have not experienced a great rise in comment spam lately – I’ve had one, yes, just one – but the only place I am known as a do follow is on the bumpzee community, and I’m not on any of the do follow lists I’ve seen around the place. I don’t know if you’re on one of those lists, but if yes could it be that spammers are using those lists and that’s why ya’all are being hammered lately?

    I purposely made my comment thick and deep, by the way. Nobody wants to be thin and shallow – except maybe supermodels. Well, some of them. 🙂

    I can say that short comments are not something I do much of! 😉 obviously.. hehe

    Snoskred
    (removed link, so click on my name to get to my blog – not everyone knows that!)

  4. I too have got a little fed up with all the really obvious and poorly crafted attempts to get past Akismet. I wrote about some of them recently, yes, there are all the usual “Phentermine history” ones and day after day someone telling me how ab fab my blog is and then linking to some pr0n crap. But, more recently, I’ve been seeing comment spam that is just an asterisk with some unwieldy URL that probably isn’t even genuine. Over on my sciscoop.com site we get ton(ne)s of the stuff that just has page after page of numbers or underscores all linking to variations on the same URL. It’s ab flab.

    By the way did you notice my cleverly disguised blogging pseudonym, subtle huh?

  5. Thanks Rob!

    A few people are distributing lists of yesfollow blogs and another guy created a custom search engine for yesfollow blogs as well.

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing in it’s self but it can be easily abused as well. I just deleted two comments this morning.

    Some of my spam will have a nonsense word. I assume this is so the spammer can search for it later on and re-target the blogs who never deleted the first message.

  6. Hey, great plugin! 🙂
    (Thanks for the link.)

    I’ve blogged about the same topic yesterday and today. “Electrical Cool Gadgets” has not yet visited any of my blogs. I’m hoping I have put the fear of Lucia into these spammers!

    If I haven’t, I will eventually need to add features that make it even easier and more efficient drill down, find any comments by “Cool Electrical Gadgets” we missed, and delete them. But I didn’t think it was necessary yet. 🙂

  7. I’ve been getting every method of spam comments you mention here in droves lately. I don’t know who these idiots think they’re fooling, especially the ones who have e-mail addresses like xse4kerj@whatever.com. They then leave comments like “I like your blog xhskslk3kd.” My guess is spammers that do that are also ones who are rather pathetically trying to get their first comment allowed so they can spam away unmoderated. Too bad they suck at that first comment.

  8. @snoskred – Hi thanks for a stonker of a comment and making me laugh too. OMG you have a .info domain and you use it to provide INFO :-0 Its difficult to keep everybody happy and I do hear you on the blogspot profile front too. FWIW, I’ll be happy for you to put a sig link here when you comment. And Im sooo glad that I now know what your nick means too. I did ponder on more than one occasion 😉

    @david (boosting your blog ) bradley 😉 – It really can be a PITA can’t it? The thing is that most of it is so pathetically obvious and shitty, that most of us wouldn’t leave it live in a zillion years. Most of these spammers prey on the idea that a blog might be dead or unmoderated so just kick their bots out intot he field to do their worst. Just sad really.

    @ Hawaii Seo – Dave Ive seen you around for a while. Youve always used that nick so afaic you are welcome to carry on here. That spam stuff and nonsense word business…yes Mike has alluded to that very thing in his comment. methodolgy seems clear, seek then destroy and abuse. Wankers.

    @Mike – at least we can see it. I think that was one of the reasons why search engines wanted or pushed this whole nofollow thing. They know that lots of blogs get left and unattented, so to have an inbuilt mech that allowed them to reduce the efficacy was a win for them and their algo. Active blogs and bloggers like your good self pick up this stuff anyway, so in my view the links we allow to stay are of much better value. IOW dofollow blogs rock 😉

    @ Lucia – Hi and thanks for stopping by. I did try and comment on your blog earlier funnily enough but it asked me for a valid email. Not sure if I made a typo or whether it was the hotmail address but will try again later when ive a little more time! Thats a great plugin you have there Lucia, I’ll be trying it out when I upgrade my WP install soon. You post has given me lots of food for though so thanks for that too. 🙂

  9. Hotmail addresses should be fine. If you have a problem again, let me know. I can try to figure out what’s happening.

  10. The thing I find is becoming a problem is the grey-area commentors.

    Some people are adding little to the conversation … just enough to promote their spammy name which leads to a spammy website (I’ve seen a few blogs that are about as close to total MFA as you can get without being JUST a link farm).

    I’ve taken a stand with a few of them and just deleted their comments. A couple others I’ve let slide.

  11. @ Lucia – will do

    @ Shane – I hear that too – I’m kinda going with my gut these days. Mosat reasonable people shouldn’t have aproblem with it, if they do then hey, that’s their problem, threads like this should help them understand some of the rationale

  12. I like the idea that the URL should go to a blog – have to admit that my anti-spam policy is kinda flexible. For ages I was accidentally cutting out all my trackbacks – not realising what they were which was a right pain when I got to the bottom of it. The free email thing is a different issue I use a free email a/c as my blog is hoted at wordpress.com and I generally try to keep my blog stuff as seperate as possible from other email conversations just to make life manageable.

  13. Agreed Michael, it kinda shows you that there is a human ‘voice’ point of reference, rather than some commercial at best MFA at worst type thing designed to just earn them a quick buck or two.

    Ive gone the free email hosting route too, for similar reasons. Just easier to manage from whatever puter I happen to end up on!

  14. If you’re only going to post to get your link on someones page for SEO does that not make you a link spammer? Only choosing to comment on pages where you’ll get some SEO benefit seems to fly in the face of the reason why comments are there

  15. I wasn’t suggesting anyone should do it, I was just pointing out that anyone who only comments with a view to getting some kind of SEO benefit is actually wasting their time as most pages are of essentially zero SEO value. The only value in commenting on a blog is in helping to build a community around said blog and between one blog and another. That’s the underlying purpose of having comments enabled.

    More power to Akismet to help us ward off the cr*pflood.

    db

  16. This is really interesting. I am not technically up with this stuff and a bit behind with the jargon so this post and the comments has given me a mini lesson. In simple terms – for me – spam irritates me (of course) but also scares me a little. As a relative novice blogger and one who takes a positive view of life I wonder what is going on in the heads of the spammers ( again some of the stuff in this post has made that a bit clearer) I am glad Akismet stops the rubbish that makes its way towards me but from time to time I have made a decision to reply to a comment by e-mail rather than allow it to appear in the blog. In each case there has been no response so I guess my judgement was right.
    And when I do a blog search – and then click on a result and find it is just a website – that annoys me too.
    I sound like Mrs Angry today!
    Jackie

  17. Hi Mrs Angry Jackie, thanks for stopping by

    Glad it helped clear up a few issues, or at least made them a little clearer for you.

    Its good to get behind and underneath the hood of these things and see the motives for what they are. Helps one make more informed decisions. 🙂

  18. I’m pretty new to the blog scene too, like Jackie. I mean I’ve been reading a handful quite frequently over the last year but only got on board and started my own one recently. I can’t even remember what I was searching for before coming across your post but I’ve learnt a lot from the content and the comments too. I guess it’s something I hadn’t considered at this stage. Just reminds you that spammers will try to get in through any means possible. I still remember that first windows system message spam pop-up I got before disabling that service…

    Anyways, it made a very interesting read.

  19. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten a ton, a TON of the “atta boy, great blog” comments that Akismet has caught.

    Lately, there’s been a thread on my blog that has been kind of ….oh….mean-spirited, with 87 little bundles of fury that’ve been spewed back and forth. That might be why I didn’t notice the spam comments sooner.

  20. Al, JD – thanks for stopping by

    @ JD
    I’m guessing that some of the posts on your blog, might just stir up a passion or 2 😉

    @ Al – glad you found this thread interesting; comment spamming is an issue that affects us all, especially those ‘dofollow’ bloggers amongst us. I guess that ultimately good moderation just comes with the terrority.

  21. Stirring up passion?

    Yeah, you can say that.

    It seems that I’ve got a whole group of family members of a child killer in England that are feuding on one of my comment threads with some people who don’t like child killers.

    The little spurt of comment spam stopped as quickly as it started. I think it’s kind of a sporadic deal, because another of my blogs got 50 comments in the span of an hour, all alike.

  22. “The only value in commenting on a blog is in helping to build a community around said blog and between one blog and another. That’s the underlying purpose of having comments enabled.”

    I believe this is too narrowly focused. What about the simple exchange of information? Comments are only for other blog owners?

    I have my comments enabled to hear different opinions, not to build a community. But this is just my opinion.

  23. The best way to avoid spam comments is the old one. Moderated comments. This is good for small to medium traffic blogs, not big ones. Isn’t there a way to spam the spammers? Get their links/emails then direct all the spam you get to those links/emails… Would this work? Probably not.

  24. Maybe you could try implmenting a system where people have to make x comments before you remove nofollow on their links. Although I often find people use spammy link text on nofollow blogs.

    I don’t agree that blog link comments are of low value. I know one blogger who has a PR7 with less than 3,000 link about 10% are from actual blog posts, about 60% from blog comments and the rest is miscelanous sites and spammy looking directories.

  25. Hi MD,

    Well I did toy with some of the ideas you suggest. Top commenters for example on this blog, rewards top commenters with a non nofollow link on the home page and nofollows them on internals.

    The blog isnt so busy at the moment (im a little lazy0 but if it picks up again then i may well revisit some of what you suggest.

  26. mmmm. It’s a tricky one. I always use ‘Acopic Web Design’ as my name for all posts across the 40 or 50 blogs to which I’m subscribed and on which I regularly comment. Yes it obviously helps with SEO but to be honest most of them are nofollow so it’s not the main reason I use it. I could use my real name but I think ‘Acopic…..’ (didn’t want to take the piss and repeat it yet again!!) informs people of who I am and what I do better than just John Smith or whatever. Obviously you’ve got to make a decision based on multiple factors like the comment itself though.

    I liked Davids suggestion above that you could create a plugin that only switches to dofollow after so many posts (maybefollow?).

    Anyway – I hope the name is OK for you, lol?

  27. Hi Neil, yes fine no problem at all with that.

    I had someone recently who left 4 okish comments yet spoiled it all by trying different weird variants of his name with links to his obvious network of blogs, that or ones he was trying to get backlinks for…shame really, cos most of what he said was pretty ok.

    You’d have though that he might just of realised that I would have seen a correlation between the writing styles and the IP addresses..oh well 😀

  28. Hello

    I am new to blogs, & still keen to learn lot. How these anchor text turns can to spams…. Promoting with this method helps increase the rating, which inturn increase the traffic, & according to me there is no harm promoting something by this means….
    John
    Self promo link removed by site owner

  29. Hello John

    I removed your link because it made me laugh, why not offer something intelligent instead of dropping a link to something you clearly seek to promote? Do I look stupid?

    Hello
    I am new to blogs, & still keen to learn lot. How these anchor text turns can to spams….

    Yes you link to a site that advocates social media marketing…right, got that.

    Promoting with this method helps increase the rating, which inturn increase the traffic, & according to me there is no harm promoting something by this means….

    There is certainly harm if you disrespect what has been said and just drop your crappy link anyway.

    Fool.

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