Comment spam vs. Akismet

akismet spam filter logoAlmost everyone on WordPress uses the famed Akismet comment spam filter. This is the most popular WP plugin, for good reason.

Akismet is very good, not perfect. You’ll not find many legitimate reader comments stuck in the WordPress spam filter box, but there will be occasional spam in among your real comments.

Social media spam never sleeps. Once your blog gets on the comment spam lists as an easy mark, they pour in. The game is to convince you they’re legitimate readers but there’s always some kind of commercial hook.

Akismet explains on its site:

Web spammers are selling links from your blog to their clients. They do this to game the search engines and trick your readers into visiting dubious web sites.

Here are some key things to look for:

  • Generic praise or criticism of your post. Beware of flattery.
  • Requests for information about your blog’s functionality or design.
  • Sentences like, “My brother and I were talking about this very thing …”
  • Multiple links in the body of the comment.
  • A product name as part of the commenter’s alias.
  • A commercial web site as the commenter’s web site.

Then there are the gray areas. The satellite TV provider Dish Network, for example, hires people to go out and comment on blogs; but unlike pure spammers these guts stay on topic and often have something to say. But inevitably, the topic turns to the high quality of Dish Network and its sister business Blockbuster.

That is a mutated form of social media spam in action. (To their credit, these commenters often refer to Dish as “my employer.”)

One way to deal with handcrafted comment spam such as this is to remove the rah-rah and retain the commenter’s point, assuming he or she makes one that you find of value. Yes, it’s OK to edit comments — be sure to remove any links — and it feels good to turn the tables on these guys.