Open Letter to Blog Comment Spammers

Posted on February 18th 2010

Photo credit: freezelight

Dear “SEO Consulting Services New York” and you too “Starting A Home Business”,

I have an admission to make: I don't like comment spam. You are comment spammers. Our readers don't like you. I don't like you. You're not welcome here.

Our Akismet filter has been doing a good job of filtering out spam and our commenting filters within Disqus catch most of the non-automated spammy comments. But they still persist. Most people active online have real names (obvious I know, but stay with me). If they don't use their real name, it's popular to use a “handle”.   I can see that it might be reasonable for some people to have a few different handles, but for the most part, singular identities are the norm.

Where the “identity crisis” comes is the persistent and pervasive use of what I consider, spammy handles in blog comments. Doing this is as old as blogging itself.   It started with legitimate beginnings though. For example, I used to put “toprank” in the name field when making comments on other blogs since that's my handle. Today, I just use my own name.  Apparently, there are a large number of people named, “internet marketing minneapolis” or “insurance leads”. I don't think so.

We “no follow links” within our blog comments due to abuse by SEO spammy types. Actually, most of them are not professional SEO's at all. Pro SEO's would not be so obvious and stupid as to blatantly use keywords as a person's name when the links are no followed. It's a waste of time.

So, to “internet marketing india” and “buy viagra and ciallis here”, I'm pretty sure those aren't your names or your handles. My position with this blog is that if you opt NOT to identify yourself as a person, then the comment has no place here.

My preference is for readers to use real names. When people do that, their comments also tend to be more thoughtful, intelligent and useful to other readers. Additionally, when people use a handle or nickname to reference themselves online, it's usually a good comment. However, with the popularity of Twitter, most people use their Twitter handle which is often a one-word name anyway.

I simply draw the line with people (or bots) that insist on using keywords they want to rank for in search engines as their “Name” in our blog comments.  Same goes for those that decide to use a two word name that then decide to link to a sales letter for some kind of “automate all your online marketing” software.

We've published a blog comment policy several years ago, but after adding Disqus as our comment management system, we cannot link to it in the same way. However, there should be a link at the end of each blog post now so readers can our guidelines for commenting.

After blogging for 6 years, I'm not ambiguous in my thinking about this. I'd be curious to know if readers think this is extreme, but I have no problem saying that I'm pretty firm in this policy and not buying in to the argument that there's an implied reciprocation that should happen when people comment that involves a keyword link in exchange.

If you're a long time blogger, what decisions have you made about a blog comment policy?

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Link to original post and say hello at @leeodden
LeeOdden

Lee Odden

Lee Odden is CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing and public relations agency that provides search, social media and online PR consulting training to Fortune 500 companies. Odden also publishes Online Marketing Blog, which is recognized as one of the top marketing blogs by Advertising Age and ranks in the Technorati top 50 blogs (by fans) out of 133 million. Odden is an active Internet marketing advocate promoting best practices, strategies and tactics through speaking at DMA, PRSA, Blog World and Search Engine Strategies conferences. Odden has been cited for digital marketing and PR expertise by The Economist, Fortune and eWeek, contributes articles to MediaPost, iMedia Connection and Target Marketing and has a chapter featured in the book,
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Comments

FranciscoCosta
Posted on February 18th 2010 at 6:33PM
Go for it! Internet may be a paradise for coward people but in the open, those people don't shout out loud and hide behind a tree. So, in an online environment, they should face the consequence of their actions to.
RonHeimbecher
Posted on February 19th 2010 at 12:00PM
Agree 100%, Lee. But the thing about a comment policy is the "commenter" has to be able to read it. From my perusals of Akismet (love it!) discards, I think 90% of it is coming from people whose jobs are pasting text they can't read or understand for a pennies a day.
Posted on September 2nd 2010 at 1:07PM

Pesonally I am more forgiving of keyword names if the comment is good. I don't have an ethical problem with someone contributing to the conversation but at the same time helping themselves a bit. So it's a sliding scale. The more spammy the name the better the comment should be. I'm running an experiment with my new blog called spam this blog" where I encourage comment spam...but it better be good or you get deleted or slammed. Kind of a performance art peice where the audience is also an actor.