Me, obsessed about comment spam? Not really. Although if you do a search here on the term, using the excellent lijit search tool in the right sidebar, you will see I have posted on it quite a few times.

What I now find not just annoying but quite creepy is that there seems to be an increase in the number and frequency of “comments” which appear to have been generated automatically from some kind of word recognition or phrase scraping, and which when you read them are nonsensical or at least incoherent. But they are “intelligible” enough, it appears, to get past the otherwise very efficient Akismet comment spam buster.

I thought it might be helpful for others, especially people new to blogging and looking for some clues on how to manage their comment stream, if I provided a few examples of what I’m talking about here.

They range from the “phony praise” ones, through the mysterious, to the completely weird.

(Update: in fairness to Akismet, some of the examples in this post may actually have been trapped by Akismet, but I still find enough odd “comments” getting past Akismet to make the exercise of vigilance necessary.)

One feature of some of those generated, apparently, by software robots is that they pick up on part of a blog post title and include that – for example a post the other day whose full title was PayPal: Don’t Leave Home With It.

Among other interesting sidelights of this little exercise, you might notice that my trip to Las Vegas last year for BlogWorld Expo and posts about that seem to have attracted a number of purveyors of Las Vegas related services.

I’ve put the “comments” in quotation marks:

“I have to say you know your stuff,thanks for the info.”

– commenter’s URL link is to a sales page for a “free” report: commenter’s name is different from the name of the report writer

“I found your blog via Google while searching for Las Vegas and your post regarding t Leave Home With It : Thinking Home Business looks very interesting for me”

– links to a site advertising hotel accommodation

” BLOG BLOG BLOG, PLEASE Blog some more I usually don\’t post comments to blogs like this, but t Leave Home With It : Thinking Home Business caught my attention while searching for las vegas real estate value.”

– links to, you guessed it, a Las Vegas real estate site

“I was searching for \’Las Vegas Nevada Travel\’ at google and got this your post (\’l: Don’t Leave Home With It : Thinking Home Business\’) in search results. Not very relevant result, but still interesting to read ”

– links to a sales site for travel to Las Vegas

“Hey! I to have a blog similar to your about home based business online links. I have just linked to you so hope you can do the same.”

– link not to blog but to a sales page for a book on how to start a small business

“Hello! Found your blog on yahoo – thanks for the article but i still don\’t get it.”

– links to life insurance site

“Yep – I would agree with that.. Thanks for the line.”

– links to a site for human growth hormone (HGH) with pic of heavily muscled guy

“Maybe it can get a little complicated if used in a different way.”

– more discount travel

“Please keep these excellent posts coming”

– mortgage loans

“Sensible guests may approve this information in refernce to t Leave Home With It : Thinking Home Business inwhich supporters already deemed that the research is fascinating! Thank You for the information you expressed.”

– more on loans

Apart from “comments” such as these, there are certainly some which are a bit in the line ball department. One thing I’ve found helpful for checking these out is to take a phrase from the comment and google it – with quotation marks to get results for an exact match for the phrase. This is one way to pick up examples of more grammatically coherent exercises in spam.

But whether or not I find with that test that a doubtful comment is spam, the doubtful comments still have to pass the criteria of my comments policy (see sidebar):

I reserve the right to delete comments I deem as spam, transparent attempts to get traffic without providing any useful commentary, and any contributions which are offensive or inappropriate for civilized discourse.

For new bloggers who might be told they should or must, in the interest of open communication and transparency, leave all comments on their blog (I don’t know whether people still say that, but just in case…), my advice is to remember it’s your blog, your brand and your reputation. If in doubt, I frankly choose the option which is more prudent in safeguarding my brand and my name.

How do you handle comment spam? If you are on WordPress, do you use any software in addition to Akismet? If you are on another platform, is comment spam a problem or do you have it solved?

(Update August 3, 2009: ironically, this post seems to attract spam, so comments are now closed.)

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