Spam, comments and etiquette

Judith Curry’s post Blog commenting etiquette makes very useful reading, except that the people who need to read it and heed it don’t. We’ve few problems in this quiet little backwater (quiet mainly due to the now ever present busyness in my day job), but let me underline one point:

“…put some effort into writing a response that adds to the conversation and/or helps the blog writer [and others]. Your comment is your calling card. The webernet is an open rolodex and as such, how you present yourself through your words will tell people whether or not they want to look you up.

This one applies to all of us (me too), everywhere, but especially to those who comment here specifically to drive traffic to their site when the post they are directing people to is of only distantly related relevance (such as it is still on the subject of climate).  I was guilty of that too in the early days of this blog but realised the error of my ways quite quickly.  Equally annoying is repeatedly (comments over several posts) making a relevant comment but finding a way of transmuting it into a pet subject.

To moderate or not to moderate – that is the question?

Not necessary here in common with most small blogs and for any unruly behaviour there’s always the rule-driven Spam/Sin-Bin.

That brings me to spam itself. Most of you don’t see spam except when the odd one slips through, such as this innocuous one that appeared a few days after the site move to WordPress.


Thankfully the WordPress plugin Askimet deals with spam automatically. What you don’t realise is the magnitude of it.


The figures above are for the whole blog, but the spam comments only apply since the move to WordPress in May 2010. It used to be one or two a week, then one or two a day depending on blog traffic – high traffic posts always seeming to attract more. In the last few weeks this blog has been getting up to 50 spam comments per day, and since I don’t get to visit every day, especially when travelling, which I do often, it is a big annoyance.

Spam 2WordPress allows 20 comments per Dashboard page; it used to be a minor task to check and delete them individually off one page every few days; now, particularly as the page refresh can be slow, it is becoming a chore. Thankfully there is a nice button at the bottom of the Spam Page that says “Empty Spam” and does exactly that. Poof! All gone in an instant!  That’s OK as long as I’ve remembered to check content for transgressing genuine comments caught in the Spam trap (which also functions as the Sin-Bin); occasionally I forget if I am in a rush, so if you get a comment caught and it never appears – sorry! The other option would be to turn off comments altogether but then why blog.


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4 Responses to Spam, comments and etiquette

  1. Pingback: Spam, comments and etiquette | Digging in the Clay | Cranky Old Crow

  2. Caleb says:

    Hi Verity. I just opened my site last month. Noticed you visited. You were my first “comment,” but I’ve had four things go into my “spam” bin.

    What happens if you click on them? For example, in the case of the “innoculous” one from “unionlemn,” would it have linked you to “Winsor Dentists?” (I don’t much like dentists.)

    One thing in my “spam” bin looks like it might be a real person. Is there any way to find out, and is it dangerous to try to find out?”

    What have your experiences with spam been?

    • Verity Jones says:

      Hi Caleb,
      mostly they are harmless – just advertising something, but some such sites may host malware (viruses and such like).
      If you think it is a real person and wish to post the comment, just edit it to remove the linked URL, which is usually there when you hover over the person’s name, and put a note on to say links removed due to suspected spam. If your site does have a link to a site that infects with malware and any one reports an infection (e.g. to Google) browsers will warn people not to visit your site. That happened here.

  3. I’ve been getting a heap of ’em recently. they’re obviously from ‘bots and easy to spot. Almost all are picked up by Blogger’s spam filter so don’t appear at all. Grammar is poor in all, and most (all?) are coming from Russia,

    I’m not aware of ever trying to direct traffic to my blog, neglected backwater though it is (perhaps induced pity will work), unless I’ve posted something lengthy and/or detailed that will add to the debate. I assumed it was common courtesy to readers to quote anything relevant in any case, to save them the trouble, though quoting is occasionally insufficient.

    I rarely read any more than the first few comments on WUWT these days – it’s become a “spam bin” IMHO. “Great post Fred, keep it up” is about as useful and informative as the bot-generated spam we all get these days. If Anthony and his co-moderators wielded the [snip] more forcefully, it might cut the comment threads down to a quarter of their current length and become a worthwhile browse once more. “On topic, useful and/or informative” should be the inflexible rule. I hope I’ve raised my relevancy index high enough to avoid the dreaded [snip].

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