Thursday, May 10, 2018

Spammer Comments: What's a Blogger to Do?

Spam comments are the bane of a blogger's existence. Okay, well maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Trolls of the Internet with their mean-spirited comments are even worse. Trying to keep up with social media, deciphering Google Analytics reports, understanding GDPR regulations well enough to implement them, and figuring out why a blog is loading slowly are challenges that rank high in blog-related frustrations for me too. But I do find spam comments annoying. Does anyone else?

Spam Comment Captcha screenshot

I'm curious about how other bloggers deal with these unwelcome comments, so I decided to write this post. Also, I'm offering it as part-explanation and part-apology to my readers who may have recently experienced frustration while trying to leave comments on my posts.

First of all, who are these spammers?! I mean, really. Who has time to leave mundane or nonsensical comments on a blog? I wish I could be as prolific as these spammers in my efforts to support the blogs that I enjoy.

If you look closely, most spam comments are robotically generated and link back to a product being sold. Flattering compliments like "I've never found a blog so intriguing" or "You are so knowledgeable and this is just what I've been searching for" are really just an attempt to entice the blogger to publish the comment.

As a new blogger, I remember how elated I was when the first of those comments appeared on one of my posts. I was so excited that someone thought I was an expert! I quickly realized it as not really valid feedback. I soon caught on to their techniques and am now rarely fooled by one of their lines.

Unfortunately though, a problem persisted. How to keep those comments off my blog? I tried using word verification or captcha (those annoying letters you have to decipher to prove you are not a robot before you leave a comment), but I didn't like making my readers jump through those hoops.

For several years, I just allowed all comments to be published, and made it a part of my daily routine to delete spam. I wonder, thought, if that practice allowed those spammers to gain a stronger foothold? In the past year it seems spam comments on my blog, The Most - - of Every Moment, have increased a hundred-fold.

I have a few questions for other bloggers:

  • Does anyone know if publishing some spam comments opens the flood gates for more? 
  • Are there just a lot more spammers now than there used to be?
  • In what way could my blog have become more easily accessible to spam?
  • Are spam comments even worth worrying about? Is there any harm with letting them all just be published as they appear?

Whatever the reason for the exponential increase of spam comments on my posts, I finally decided a while ago to change the settings on my blog, so that all comments must be moderated by me ... meaning that I must approve each comment before it is published. This trick solved my problem of spam comments being published on my blog, but it created extra work for me and reader comments don't appear on my blog until after I approve them.

For a variety of the usual reasons, I have not been blogging full-time lately. As a result, there has sometimes been quite a delay before readers comments have been published. This makes me uncomfortable, as it is a major blogging faux pas.

Today, I started wondering if I should turn the captcha safeguard back on and comment moderation off. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my website platform (Blogger) no longer uses those indecipherable letter codes, but readers simply have to check a box indicating that they are human. 

That doesn't seem too much to ask of readers, so I'm going to try this for a while. We'll see if this solves the spammer problem. 

Like any blogger, I love to get comments on my posts. If I still get too much spam though, I wonder if it would it be best to just turn off the comment section on my blog? Maybe even just until I get back to blogging full-time, and have a set schedule for dealing with comments and those pesky spammers? 

Without the ability to comment on a post, readers would still have the option to contact me via email or the contact form, easily found right on the blog. Would that be as useful of a means for readers to offer feedback or to ask a question? 


A contact form located on the right sidebar of blog


Comments can help improve the rankings of a blog. At this point though,  I am less concerned about that, than about providing an optimal communication system for my readers.

What do you think? What's best for you as a reader of this blog? If you are a blogger, what is your best advice? 

7 comments :

  1. I get very fewer spammers. I have noticed they come in waves and I ride those waves out and delete them as and when they occur. And never, ever follow their links.
    Spammers are a pest but bother me a great deal less than trolls. Who I also get very rarely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This sounds like good advice. And I agree - trolls are much worse!

      Delete
  2. My blog is hosted on Wordpress.org. I have a plug-in called Anti-Spam that says it has caught over 17,000 spam messages so far. Once in a blue moon, a message gets through that is clearly spam and I delete it. I'm not techie but it makes sense that as more spam gets onto your site, the bad guys will ramp up their attack. If it looks like an open door to them, they will send more troops marching through!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are some built in Anti-Spam features on Blogger too, but I had turned them off to make commenting easier for my readers. Now that they are back on, I'll see how it goes. Glad to hear the Wordpress plug-in works so well. Thanks for your comment!

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