Enough With the Comment Spam

http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2008/12/enough-with-the-comment-spam/

Lately I’ve been seeing a trend I’m not thrilled about. Comment spam. But not the kind of Viagra/porno site/make money online comment spam we’re used to finding in our spam filters. These are from real people who are participating in the conversation and then somewhere in the comment they drop a link. I especially get this from folks dropping their work at home or Associated Content affiliate links. It’s annoying.

Recently one person called me a hypocrite. She wanted to know how come we post ads for jobs all day but she can’t put her own ads in the comments. Because there are specific spots for ads. The comments section is for creating and participating in a conversation. It’s not for dropping links to your own blogs and websites.

I love that we have new bloggers coming on board every day. The problem is many of them are taking the “comment at blogs to gain traffic” thing to heart.

What do you think? Has this sort of thing gotten worse?

Comments

  1. Deb,

    You’re so right. It’s not just the pill vendors and game farmers anymore. Every so often, I can tell when someone made a huge killing on an infoproduct when I see a flurry of the same links show up on some of the sites I manage. I often have to remind folks about our TOS and that I like to make sure conversations stay on topic.

  2. Abby Heugel says:

    I completely agree. It’s like if you’re reading an informative magazine article and then all the sudden the writer interjects with some sort of repeated product placement comment-it feels like all credibility flies out the window.

    While advertising is a necessary part of business, there is a time and a place for self-promotion. If you are truly good at what you do, people will take notice and inquire about more information.

    I feel that on sites such as this, we’re all kind of in the same boat and dealing with the same things. Dropping in web site links gives it a competitive feel that slightly chills the vibe…if that makes any sense!

  3. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    Deb:
    There are many promotional “gurus” whose promotion advice includes commenting on blogs and including a link to your MLM, pyramid scheme, or own blog. We have writers and even staff at Associated Content advising that strategy. They get whapped, but they keep advising it.

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to do it, but they seldom mention when it’s appropriate. I’d post a link to one of my associated Content articles if it was relevant to the discussion … but only then. I’d post a link to someone else’s blog or website if it was more relevant.

  4. I didn’t list my website here, even though I have a blog outside of AC. I did want to add this viewpoint, from the other side: at least as often as you get posts from AC writers who link their page, the writers at AC get their material stolen, without attribution, sometimes even including the writer’s name and a complete copy of the article – but no link back to the website (proving that it was stolen). Believe me, just getting those page views can take serious monitoring on AC.

    However, you have your TOS and those should be respected. I’d be open to people putting up links to related articles on my blog because I think writers should network and share info and tend to think there is enough work to go around. I could be wrong about that, of course.

  5. I don’t mind a link in a comment IF it’s related. Like sometimes, someone will drop an organic bedding link on an organic bedding post, which whatever, it’s a little weird, but I consider it a resource at this point. It’s when people drop totally obnoxious links that I get delete happy. Like some organic toy on a post about jeans. In my comment policy at my blogs, I note this though, so if you drop a link, it’s clear I’ll delete it, if it’s off topic. Comments, IMO are to further the conversation of said post, not to sell stuff that’s non-related.

  6. I don’t mind if people put their website where it asks for their website – and I will often click on their name if they had something interesting to say in their comment. That said, comments that aren’t participatory and don’t relate to the post they are left on, those are pretty annoying. Especially when there’s a big link staring you in the face in the middle of them.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is – you don’t promote your blog by leaving comments with links in them on other blogs, you promote your blog by becoming a valuable part of the conversation.

    Right?

  7. Remember the golden age of the internet, when people posted on blogs and forums because they wanted to be part of the conversation, instead of so they could get other people to visit their own site?

    There’s a special place in Heck for the person who first said “comment at other blogs to get traffic to yours.” I’d Google to find out who that was, but no doubt so many other sites copied it without attribution that it would be impossible to figure it out!

  8. Actually, wombat, I’ve long maintained a good way of bringing traffic to your blog is to comment at other blogs – but that means comment not spam.

  9. @wombat

    I don’t think we should mix up the tip of commenting on other blogs with spamming on other blogs. I have been a long time subscriber to many different blogs and in the past had left comments. The only difference now that I have my own blog is now I have a web address to put into the little reply form. If people like what I have to say then I hope they will click my name, if not I’m not going to shove my content down their throats.

  10. Links in comments which are related to the topic at hand, regardless of whether it is self promotion or not, are perfectly fine. There is no reason at all that a relevant link should be censored, when it may contribute to the discussion.

    Spamming links into comments, however, is another story altogether. If a link has nothing to do with the article, then it doesn’t belong in the related comments.

    Nothing wrong with posting comments for traffic, so long as your comments are relevant and participatory.

  11. Yes, it’s getting worse. I’m updating my networks’ moderating plugin so that we can see the whole comment and all html code in it.

  12. Isn’t this just an extension of the social marketing trend? I imagine we’re going to see a lot more of this. In fact, I forget if it was here or somewhere else, but I recall seeing an ad a couple of weeeks ago for paid forum posters.

    Like others said, I really don’t mind it if it’s relevant to the topic–in fact, I think it’s a good strategy. If I’m trying to promote an article that I’ve done, I don’t see what’s wrong in hitting relevant forums and blogs to advertise it a little. It’s an easy way of targetting your audience and driving traffic. And if someone isn’t interested, they just need to skip to the next post. I could see that it’d be annoying if it’s totally irrelevant–but this also seems like a poor strategy for the poster. Again, I’d just skip right on to the next post.

  13. Usually I agree with you Deb, but in this instance I’m not fully seeing things your way. As far as I’m concerned, if the link is relevant to the discussion, it’s not spam. It’s offering another viewpoint and doing a little promoting. Since this site is about helping freelancers and self-promotion, I’m actually a little surprised that you would mind relevant links in a discussion. That being said, I do think links for the sake of links are inappropriate, no matter where they are. Those are what I would truly consider spam and you have every right to be annoyed by them.

    But, it’s your site and if you don’t want them, then readers should respect that regardless of their personal feelings on the matter.

  14. I actually, believe it or not, almost did a marketing gig for a guy, where I would spend days finding relevant blogs, answering questions and adding input to forums, all for the sake of marketing his business. And it had to look like I actually cared about the conversation. Those were his words. It had to be helpful and meaningful, so it didn’t look like spam or marketing. Luckily, I found a REAL writing job and he found someone else to do his grunt work.

  15. I guess I haven’t really noticed it, but it doesn’t really bother me either. It’s the internet. And as long as there is conversation flowing I can ignor the comments with links if I want.

    Or maybe I’ll actually want to visit some of the links!

  16. …oh wait, do you mean you don’t want us to put our website in the “website” thing…? What?

  17. Deb, was my last comment offensive? I notice it was deleted.

  18. Hi Krisy,

    I didn’t delete anything?

  19. I haven’t noticed it either. Maybe it’s because I’m reading the comments later and you’ve already gone in and deleted them? I agree with Julie that I will often click on a link for someone’s site if something they’ve said in their comment makes me curious, but I wouldn’t go to any link for a person who wasn’t actually participating in the discussion.

  20. LOL. Well that’s weird. It was there last night when I posted, but not this morning when I checked in on the conversation. I didn’t really say anything offensive, I only mentioned that I don’t really consider it spam if the link is relevant to the discussion. I do agree that a link for the sake of a link is spammy.

  21. Maybe an anti-spam plugin farted.

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