Spam isn’t just about email these days. You may have seen a particularly egregious type of it in comments to news stories or occasionally in blogs like “Bluebird Banter” or “MLB Trade Rumors.” In addition to the legitimate baseball commentary, you’ll see a post about working from home and making thousands in the process – with a link you can click for more info. Congratulations – you have just been introduced to Blog Spam.
The rationale behind Blog Spam is simple. Say you are out to sell soccer jerseys. The more times you can link your soccer jersey site through other websites, the higher ranking it gets in search engines like Google. So you get an automated spider to troll the internet, find as many sites as possible that permit comments. Then you put a bogus comment with a link back to you. Presto! You have just optimized your website for Google.
This sounds relatively harmless until you find that a tiny blog like Almontage can get hundreds of these comments per month. Not just for soccer jerseys either. Lots of porn and penile enhancement comments arrive. Stuff I’m not going to click on, and I wouldn’t want you to either. So how can I slam the spam?
If I chose to use a commercial site like Blogger or WordPress.com then the problem would be more or less taken care of for me. But I prefer to host my own site for flexibility and freedom from ads. That means I have to deal with the Blog Spam tsunami myself.
The first thing I do is moderate the comments. Comments are welcome, but your first one has to be approved by me. After that, it’s clear sailing.
Next, I close the posts for comments after 14 days. I don’t want to go back and check for spam on stuff I wrote months ago.
The final thing is to install an anti-spam plugin called Akismet. This useful app silently kills the worst spam so I never see it. Akismet also flags stuff that it thinks *might* be spam so I can review it later. Most of the time it is correct.
All of this might seem like overkill on such a tiny blog, but it’s worth the effort.
- If I don’t keep the blog spam free, it looks like I don’t care. Would you want to visit my place if I never bothered to cut the lawn or pull out the weeds?
- If Google detects spam here, it could ban my blog from its search. Not a big deal as most of my visits come from links I post personally. However, if you Google “Almontage” I am not far from the top of the list and I want to keep it that way.
- In addition to their salacious content, most blog spam comments are really stupid – and I detest spammers. Years ago they made it impossible to have a Guest Book on a personal website, and now they are doing the same thing with blogs.
As with most things on the Internet, having your own hosted blog can be a mixed blessing. But if I do my job properly, any visitor can read it free of annoying comments and targeted ads. That’s a good enough incentive for me.