How can I recognise User-Generated Spam?

I’ve been receiving lots of suspicious-looking comments on my blog, I’m not sure how to distinguish these from real comments; what’s your advice?

This came up while I was speaking to a friend of mine online. User Generated Spam comments are a relatively new phenomenon which has come about as spam filters have increased in effectiveness in their ability to detect and neutralize bot-generated spam.

User Generated Spam is actually generated by a real user who types in a quasi-relevant comment on the blog. They tend to avoid putting links in their comment, as they know these will attract attention. Instead, what they do is use the author name and blog URL field on the comment form to leave a link back to their clients’ websites. These comment links are especially valuable if they are places on a blog carrying PR and subscribing to the DoFollow/NoNoFollow philosophy.

So, what is the best way to recognise this spam. Well, the main thing is that the author name is not really an author name, but the description of a service or website. So, for example, if you’re moderating a comment and the author’s name is Get Money Free for example, you can be pretty sure that’s a spammy comment, looking for a contextual link. This evidence can be further verified if the Author Blog URL points to a money making site.

So, what’s the best way to deal with these comment. You have three options really:

  • Delete the comment: This is quick and painless, but it’s not really much fun!
  • Flag it as spam: If you flag this as spam and you’re part of a spam-reporting network (as is the case with WordPress and Akismet), this will increase the likelihood of a similar comment by the same spammer being marked as spam.
  • Doctor it: This is what I do on my blog. The comment left is usually slightly relevant to the post, so it might have some value appearing on the blog. So, if someone leaves a comment and the author name is Dick’s Sporting Goods coupons for example, I’ll just change this to Dick and remove the author blog URL. This adds some content (and churn) to my blog, but immediately kills any spam effort that the spammer would have expended.

There are other options, like turning off commenting to your blog, or just stop blogging; but they are not something I would recommend to anyone. Any other suggestions for my readers as how to deal with User Generated Spam?

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