Before I started blogging, I was only peripherally aware of an internet phenomenon known as comment spam.
As you could guess from the name, comment spam is a random blog comment promoting unrelated sites. Much like its deplorable cousin email spam, comment spam is both annoying and amusing at the same time. It’s annoying because it clogs up your blog with random crap and it’s amusing because the writing is usually terrible.
Because my comment spam is automatically blocked (more on that in a bit), I was much more amused by it than annoyed. Eventually, my amusement morphed into fascination. After all, there are real people (for the most part) writing these comments, trying to come up with strategies on how to get past spam filters AND attract others to their sites.
As I started noticing all of the different ways spammers approach their sleazy craft, I decided to record and catalog the comment spam I got. So, after a few months of doing so, I’m ready to share the results with you, dear reader.
But first, a quick note on protecting the blog. I use and highly recommend Akismet, a fantastic and free service which identifies and automatically blocks spam comments with uncanny accuracy.
And now, without further ado, I present to you flavors of comment spam.
Probably the most common flavor of comment spam is praise. For example, here’s a classic from the category:
Excellent article, great webpage theme, keep up the good work You gave tremendous positive points there. I did a search on the topic and found most peoples will agree with your blog.
What makes this sample great is that liberal amounts of effusive praise are backed up by facts (he did research the topic after all).
Sometimes, the spammer feels the need to quantify their praise, as is evidenced in this example:
Hi there I located your webpage by mistake when i searched Live search for this concern, I must point out your webpage is very helpful I also enjoy the style, its good!
I couldn’t tell you why he felt the need to mention that he got to my blog by mistake, but he found my humble thoughts on the “concern” helpful and esthetically pleasing!
Of course, comment spam wouldn’t be spam if it didn’t try to sell you something:
Excellent put up, I am checking back again on a regular basis to search for up-grades. Sign up to <…> for free using our link below and when you log in and you will have $20 free credit to use and browse the site. Click the banner above to see free <…> samples.
Looks like I may have gotten a regular visitor out of this! He wants “up-grades” and “up-grades” he shall have. I also really like how he first acknowledges the excellence of my “put up” and then smoothly transitions into the sales pitch. And there is even a $20 credit offer! Well played sir, well played.
The following comment is a bit harder to categorize as praise, but it’s close:
this blog should anyone print out and installed on every restaurant in the city
I mean, aside from the logistics of printing out an entire blog, it’s pretty nice of him to demand that it be “installed on” every restaurant in the city. Sure some might say that a blog largely about software development really doesn’t belong on (or in) a restaurant, but still.
Finally, my favorite sample in this category has got to be the following:
What a great web log. I spend hours on the net reading blogs, about tons of various subjects. I have to first of all give praise to whoever created your theme and second of all to you for writing what i can only describe as an fabulous article. I honestly believe there is a skill to writing articles that only very few posses and honestly you got it. The combining of demonstrative and upper-class content is by all odds super rare with the astronomic amount of blogs on the cyberspace.
First off, I love the use of the more traditional “web log” instead of blog. Second, this comment contains just the right amount of praise for both the style and the substance. And finally, it’s just nice that someone considers my content “upper-class”, especially in light of the “super rare” odds of existence of such content. Really made my day.
Spammers, like most people, are not above bartering. This flavor of comment spam is characterized by blunt offers to trade links. Here’s a sample request I got from a Russian site:
How much is a link to your site? My site <…> Nice topic – respect !
There is no question as to what’s going on here. I’ve got a site and he’s got a site. Both sites have URLs. URLs which can be posted on other sites. I mean, what else is there for me to do but exchange links with random sites in Russia selling God knows what?
Here’s another one:
Amazing article. I need you up-to-date your weblog much more often, I just cannot appear to be to own adequate of one’s blog. I saved your weblog in my bookmarks. Would it be feasible to do a guest article sometime?<…>
An interesting variation on the theme, this spammer actually offers to write a guest article! Since his comment ended with a link to some random site, I can only imagine what his article would contain. Probably more links to random sites. Sign me up!
The Non Sequitur
And finally, this is a special flavor of spam which I can only describe as utterly meaningless ramblings of a mad man. That may sound harsh, but you be the judge:
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Is it meaningless? Yes. Is it rambling? Absolutely. Is it nuttier than a can of Planters salted peanuts? You betcha! By the way, this comment is supposed to advertise a site that sells watches.
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