Continuing the Conversation: Comment Spam vs. Comment Links

A day in the office

Recently, we posted Comment Spam vs. Comment Links: What’s the Difference? and received some great comments based on our readers’ opinions. Ironically, one commenter proved the point we were trying to make, about how links in comments can enhance a conversation without being spam.

Gail Gardner, social media marketing and Internet strategist of GrowMap.com, left an excellent comment (thanks, Gail, and welcome to the Level343 SEO Article Archive) on the article… and here is where this article begins.

Cutting Off the Conversation

“If the only reason for you being on an article is to post a comment and build links, you’re in danger of committing the SEO sin of comment spam. Tread carefully. However, if you’re at an article to read it, are moved to comment, have written or read a piece that you want to share with others, and so post the link with your comment, this is not spam. This is communicating, engaging and building a community.” – Quote from Comment Spam vs. Comment Links

Now, we hope Gail will forgive us, because we’re going to tear her comment apart to show our point…

This is a subject near and dear to my heart and I may have written more posts on it than most any other blogger around (that I know of anyway).

She may not be the most prolific writer about spam, but she’s definitely written quite a few articles on the topic. It’s important to note these articles aren’t “How I Hate Spam” or “All Spammers Must Die”, etc. They are well researched, in depth articles (see: Akismet Deletes Comments Bloggers NEVER SEE!) about the topic.

There is definitely NO CONSENSUS across the blogosphere on what comments are spam and which are not. I know that because I did a Twtpoll Spam or Not Spam post where you can read the results.

GrowMap Poll on Comment Spam

Really? Now that sounds interesting. It really does. However, because Gail is a conscientious poster, she left out the link. We had to hunt for it. Now, TwtPoll: SPAM or NOT SPAM – YOU Decide was a pretty small poll as these things go; 15 people responded. However, it still says a lot that 4 of them (27%!) said they’d consider a comment with a link as spam.

Would you believe some bloggers flag as spam any comment they don’t like while others will flag any comment that links to a business and some even flag as spammers any comment from anyone they don’t know. (THAT is why Akismet can NEVER work unless they implement a fundamental change in how it flags spam – see my recent post on Crowdsourcing for more details on that or the many, many posts I’ve done about Akismet deleting our comments and being rude to our commentators.)

This… this is frustrating. We’d love to see the many posts about Akismet that Gail has written, but there’s no link. This means, we again have to spend time hunting them down.

…see my recent post on Crowdsourcing…

The Power of Crowdsourcing by 99designs

The Power of Crowdsourcing by 99designs

Ummm… where? Does this mean we can find a post about crowdsourcing on GrowMap (It does, but we didn’t know that)? Can we find the information somewhere on one of the 43,000 search results for “crowdsourcing, Gail Gardner”? Where is this recent post?

I wrote a post about believing in the Google Fairy for those who buy the silly notion that if you do nothing to build links your blog or site will somehow still be found.

Again, we would have loved to see what Gail had to say on the subject. It might be something that might bring us around to another way of viewing things. It might be an article that inspires us to write a response. It could be several things, but we’ll never know, because searching for “believing in the Google Fairy” didn’t bring up her article (it did, however, bring up ours…).

Personally I love CommentLuv for the reasons I explain in my post about how it grows businesses and blogs and that post explains my suggestions on how bloggers and businesses can mutually benefit from developing relationships through commenting.

HEEEELP! Where are we now? What post? After finally finding the Google Fairy article, we read down and there’s nothing about CommentLuv. We’d love to see what reasons she has for liking the plugin. We’d like to read her suggestions about developing relationships. We’d love to have read just one of these articles she talks about… but we can’t.

She didn’t post any links.

Why?

She didn’t want to be thought of as a spammer.

With at least four links in her comment, most bloggers would drop her into the spam bin if Akismet didn’t get there first.

The lack of links, plain and simple, cut off the conversation.

Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is

Well, putting our blog where our mouth is, anyway. We love conversation, whether it happens here or on another blog. Over the past months, we’ve done a few things, like making sure the automatic nofollow was removed.

We THOUGHT we’d see a huge spike in spam. In watching our little spam basket, it’s amazing… things didn’t change for the worst. We have more traffic now than a year ago, and a lower spam to comment ratio.

Last week, we also added linking guidelines to the bottom of our posts and added CommentLuv for our readers. Lastly, we’re trying out the GrowMap Anti-Spambot Plugin, and have retired Akismet for the time being.

How you run your blog is your business, but we don’t want our readers to feel inhibited. We don’t want you to cut off a conversation because you didn’t want to be thought of (or blocked) as a spammer. If you have a related link you think our other readers would enjoy or find useful, please, share it with us.

We want to know more about you – do you have a favorite article you’ve written or read? Just this once, we’re opening up this comment to unrelated links. Let’s see what kind of conversation we can get going!

About Jahnelle Pittman

All around SEO coding geek; AKA "Editing Bulldog" A true geek with a heart of code and SEO, I'm the Senior Project Manager of Level343 and Head of the SEO Department. They call me the "Editing Bulldog" - I'm pretty sure I'm the editing nightmare of writers everywhere, waving a pen across every document in the search for perfect client deliverables. When not buried in paperwork, I'm happily buried in website code, SEO research or playing with my kids.

Comments

  1. I love links – in fact I am probably one of the most link-happy bloggers around; however, I also read comment policies before commenting in a new blog. The reason I didn’t share any links is because many blogs do not like link-dropping and I am new here. I am always happy to provide links to anything I mention.
    There is an Akismet category on my blog so you don’t really have to use a search. You have proven clearly why I love links and wish to share them but refrain in blogs where I am not personally known yet because even one link will often get a comment deleted – and if I linked to everything I mentioned that would have been four links and that would definitely be over the threshold most bloggers set for links in comments. (There is a setting in WordPress for that.)
    I will first submit this comment so it will hopefully make it through and then add another with the links.
     
     

  2. Here are the links you did not find:

    There are visible categories on my blog including one for Akismet information . (If you do a ctrl-F and search for Akismet it is easy to find.)

    Most of my posts use the keyword phrase as the URL and can easily be found using the search box found in the upper right corner of my blog. For example, the CrowdSourcing post is at http://GrowMap.com/crowdsourcing and comes up first when you search my blog for that word. (I highly recommend bloggers have a search box near the upper right corner of their blogs and the search function built into WordPress works much better for that purpose than Lijit or Google or any other I’ve seen to date.)
     
    The post on CommentLuv on How CommentLuv Grows Businesses and Blogs is at /commentluv and my post on How Using KeywordLuv Benefits us all is at /keywordluv. (For those not as familiar with URLs, that is where they are after the http://GrowMap.com – just add the /name of post to find it.
    Your post made the case for TWO of my most cherished recommendations:

    Every blog needs a search box to make their posts easy to find.

    Links are not just for spammers or for link building – they are to make it easy to find what someone is sharing – as you said, to “continue the conversation”.

    My comments sometimes turn into posts and where links are welcomed are often mini-books that link to comprehensive additional information. Once I know a blog welcomes my links I am more than happy to share them.

    Any time I mention a post or link or information and you can not easily find it feel free to ask me – I am always happy to provide. Just use the info on my contact page which is – you guessed it – at /contact or reached by clicking the contact tab on my blog.

  3. Glad I saw this article as I can add my own 2 cents here. I often invite readers to share their links, articles that they are proud of or want to showcase. When I talk about something I don’t mind if a reader shares one link about something related that they want me to see. Most people can clearly determine SPAM from real comment based on how the comment is worded. That being said I don’t use Akismet ever as one of my long time readers was relegated to SPAM and they have never left spam comments ever. I missed a dozen of their comments over two weeks and they thought I was ignoring them when I just happened to forget my spam folder. I would rather manually filter 30 spam than have Akismet flag 1 valid comment as spam.

    I use GASP and Simple Trackback Validation only on my blogs, I still have to weed through about 30 pending comments per day (I require all 1st time commenters to review for pending) and most are flagged as trash if not spam. I have a comment policy and if users don’t leave proper username and just keywords, most of the time I will trash their comment or if I approve I respond and tell them how to properly comment in the future.

    I do have people who ask me to review their sites in comments, some are valid and I check them out. Some like somebody leaving a generic comment with a monex or forex or stupid dating site link are clearly just junk spam even with a valid pregenerated comment. With replyme I often respond to comments and notice that many never respond even though I know they get an email from the ReplyMe plugin.

    I also visit the link in the commentluv box or site link to see what kind of site it is, I won’t link out to poor quality sites (gambling / adult) no matter how good the comment is, I just won’t allow the link and will either trash the comment or strip the URL out of the comment.

    Our blog is like our garden and comments can bring flowers or weeds and the blog owner has to remove the weeds on occasion.

    I really like your commenting policy btw, very clear and concise. I find though that spammers read nothing just leave a comment and ignore in most cases.

    One other note, people who leave comments on my blogs as a reciprocal comment from leaving a comment on their blog are given some leeway to the comment. I clearly know they are returning a favor and since they are blogs (followed my comment back) I often approve them as I know they are being friendly and polite in returning a comment.

  4. On another note, does your blog allow you to reply to other commenters, I don’t see a reply button next to other peoples comments?

  5. Hi, Justin – We’re currently looking for a reply-type function. Two plugins we tried were broken and destroyed links. Do you have any suggestions? We’ve tried MCE Comments for more usability and WP Comment Remix for the Reply/Quote function. Both were broken.

  6. WordPress has default comment threading as of 2.8 and later I think, this theme must be old enough that it doesn’t support it. I would try upgrading the comments.php in your theme to the generic one in the WordPress default theme and see if that fixes your comments with threading. Also enable it in the WordPress “discussion” settings.

    Just backup your comments.php first before you replace with the default, I have had to do this for a few really old themes.

  7. BRILLIANT – just turn the function on! Sheesh… I knew that box was there, but had forgotten. The settings have always been one of those things I go in, set, and then never touch again for Level343… oh sure, I double check them for clients, but…

    Sometimes, you get so caught up in “there’s a plugin for that” that you can forget there are sometimes easier solutions – like clicking a check box.

    Thanks for the wake up call there, Justin – much appreciated and voila! Reply to anyone! :D

  8. Happy to help and it works perfectly.

  9. I agree with Justin – the default search in WordPress is superior to any of the other options I’ve used in various blogs.

  10. Threaded comments is built into WordPress too. You just turn it on. (I see you already found it, but I wanted to mention in so other bloggers would know about it.

  11. I am using GASP and find it very effective in blocking spam. Kudos to Gail for effectively promoting it to the blogosphere.

  12. I mean lets face it keywordluv increases traffic of both the good and the bad variety. It also motivates me personally to make sure I am doing my best to add something of value to the coversation since by being discerning when I am commenting I can get higher quality links and higher quality referral traffic.

    Cheers!

  13. Like the article says, Kevin, it’s ok when one links to something relevant to the discussion , something that will add value or clear the confussion. But it’s pretty obvious when you see comments like “Hey nice post. I like your blog. You are nice” lol. That just makes me mad.

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