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When is a comment not a comment?

There used to be a time when I got a comment on my blog I got very excited. Sad, I know. The concept that someone had bothered to read my post and then add their own thoughts to it was very flattering.

This means I’m not complacent to comments now, nor that they have become so blasé I fail to notice them. But whenever I see a large amount of comments in my comment section it does ring certain alarm bells combined with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

Is this the real deal?

Just occasionally I do get what I call a ‘real’ comment. It’s a pity they are so occasional, because I really do value them and they make interesting reading, not to mention providing the opportunity to answer them as well. I particularly like it when they trigger a healthy argument on a certain subject, as not only are we entitled to put across our points of view, but this to-ing and fro-ing creates more content for the search engine spiders to munch on.

So why only occasionally is there a ‘decent’ comment to approve? Surely I should be accepting every comment that gets past Akismet (read this post that explains why you should activate Akismet) as this ‘spam eater’ would sort out the nasties for me? Well, yes it does, and I value its service highly, but there are some clever bods that get through, even via the Capture plugin I’ve installed that means you have to be human to leave a comment.

How to recognise spam

There are lots of spammers on the net, and they are becoming increasingly clever at getting through the nets set to trap them. They used to be robots, but now humans are employed purely to spam websites across the world. This means the comments left are not just a series of question marks or incomprehensible rubbish, but appear to be meaningful and coherent. Some even have posts they can use with the Comment Luv plugin I’ve installed to benefit real commenters, which rewards the commenter with a chance to link to his latest post on his blog.

But how do I recognise them as spammers? If I mouse over their weblinks associated with their comments to get a ‘preview’ of the site, and this usually reveals a lot of suspect examples. Then you should look at the comment itself. Does it really provide a comment that is consistent with the post’s subject? Does it continue the argument or provide a coherent point of view?

A comment that is sickeningly ‘nice’ and complimentary, combined with poor English, smacks to me of spamming. It’s more common in the East to fawn and flatter with compliments in a comment, without actually extending the conversation or contributing adequately. Another obvious indication is that the comment has been translated via a web application. English is a complex language, with complicated nuances, and many online translation systems cannot replicate this language correctly. So the combination of awkward English that is overbearingly ingratiating is a sure indication of a spammer.

It’s not all bad

But, on the other hand, if I do get a poorly translated comment that is coherent, informative or presents a good argument, and is connected to a valuable post or a good website link, I will gladly accept it and answer it accordingly.

So this leaves these questions: why are we so likely to be bombarded with spam comments rather than real ones? Where are all the relevant bloggers that could be leaving valuable comments that continue the conversation and provide excellent new content? And why are the English so prohibited from putting their points of view across to the detriment of social interaction within the blogosphere?  Leave your comments below please…

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Alice Elliott writes the award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She provides simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Visit her new Beginner Bloggers blog to find her latest learning resources.
Maggie Berney - 17 September 2013

I agree – it’s very disheartening, especially for new bloggers, when you think you have sparked a discussion, only to find that it’s only spammers wanting to use your blog as free advertising.

My particular favourite was when I reproduced a relevant poem on my blog only to get various spam comments remarking ‘I like the points you raise.’

    Alice Elliott - 18 September 2013

    Yes, Maggie, the ones that respond with something that has nothing remotely close to the subject matter of your post can be spotted from more than 90 paces!

Liz McGee - 17 September 2013

Hi Alice,

Nice informative post. And you’re right, spam commenters are becoming very clever. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell. But I do 4 things before I accept a comment.

1. I make sure the comment is relevant to my post.
2. I look at their website, just as you mentioned.
3. I like to see an avatar of their head shot. Not always a must, but it’s a good indication of a legit commenter.
4. If after all that I suspect the comment is spam sometimes I’ll copy the whole comment with quotes into the Google search and if I see the same comment come up on several search results, I know it’s spam.

Blessings,
Liz

    Alice Elliott - 18 September 2013

    Thanks Liz, I like the tactic of seeing if the whole comment is duplicated in Google search results – hadn’t thought of that one!

Paul Glynn - 17 September 2013

Alice
I am confused. What do the spammers get out of leaving rubbish? I too get weird comments. Why do they do this? I am sure there must be an obvious answer, but it escapes me…. (see, you KNOW I must be a native English speaker to get away with that expression…)
Paul

    Alice Elliott - 18 September 2013

    Well Paul, spammers work on opportunity or the uninitiated. There’s always going to be some poor unwitting soul who will respond the right way for them, and then it’s too late. There are plenty of people who don’t understand on the net, and it is to these I have written this post to make them more aware.

Kate Hurn - 18 September 2013

I get this quite a lot on the blog I write for. Like through UK Bloggers we’ve had some genuine comments but had a few which are like, “like this, try ruzma brushes – animal real hair” from Azizzi Ahtem and it’s like THIS IS SPAM!

I also really don’t like disingenuous comments that are just really vague and just so people can get their link on your page and they think it’s ok because they’ve “commented”. Like they haven’t read the post just skimmed it.

Really good post, has really made me think about how I comment on other blogs (I do usually try and leave a thorough comment with my thoughts on the post)

Kate H (UK Bloggers)

    Alice Elliott - 18 September 2013

    Thanks Kate, I know exactly what you mean, people who skim through a post can never leave a decent comment that truly reflects the post’s subject matter. And proper commenters who leave a thorough and thought-provoking response are always welcome.

Lindsay McLoughlin - 20 September 2013

Hi Alice – I agree it is really disheartening when the spam gets through. It’s the internet’s litter bin. Fortunately, I enjoy deleting/emptying my litter bin regularly. However, like Liz above, I do check the first three points she made on her list. As for the fourth… Love the idea of checking with Google. Totally agree blogs should inspire comments – of the right kind! Great blog post and very informative. Thank you. Lindsay

    Alice Elliott - 20 September 2013

    Thanks Lindsay, though I wonder if you’ll continue to enjoy emptying your spam folder when you regularly get loads of annoying spam comments. But then as you already get lots of real comments perhaps this isn’t an issue? Great posts inspire great comments, as you rightly said… and that also depends where you place your post to get those comments too.

Chetan Gupta - 16 November 2013

Finally your blog post made my day. I really like your post. Actually I was written a post on blog commenting and later I think that why not to read what other bloggers thinks about the commenting and after reading your post, I learned some extra information. Your post is really helpful for me. 😉
Happy Blogging
Chetan Gupta 😉

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