Solutions to Comment Spam - Again...

Thread Title:
Comment Spam? How About An Ignore Tag? How About An Indexing Summit!
Thread Description:

Danny Sullivan posts some proposed solutions to comment spam and links to a number of other proposals and discussions including the one we had on solving comment spam a few weeks back.

Danny suggests that it's the search engines responsibility (or at least implies) and proposes a exclusion tag that would tell a search engine not to index certain portions of a page:

To me, the solution seems simple. Why not give designers a tag telling search engines to ignore portions of a web page? Or better yet, how about a coordinated summit among search engines and webmasters to advance the state of site indexing overall?

To me, this is the wrong way to go about it, for several reasons:

  • Why should genuine comments be ignored by search engines?
    This is what would happen if you roped off portions of the page and told search engines not to include the links - firstly, the people commenting and adding value to the page should get all the benefit of a link to their website IMO - this is what the internet is all about and what the various link algos are partly about: Accrediting value where due. You could argue that maybe just the links wouldn't count but the content of the comments would be indexed but it still leaves that problem accreditation which i think is important.
  • Search Engine Adoption: It just aint that simple!
    I cant imagine all of the search engines either agreeing to such a solution or implementing it any time soon, can you? It just doesn't work like that so for a start we have a potentially huge delay in implementation assuming that all parties agreed anyway. If only one of the major players did not agree, comment spam would still be an excellent, cheap method of gaining traffic rendering the solution useless.
  • Blog Vendor Adoption: It just ain't that simple!
    Pretty much the same as above for this reason against such an idea. You would have to get all of the major vendors to agree on a standard, and these things take time. Then you would have to implement it on new releases of the software, provide patches for older versions and set up support channels for all of that. To be fair though, some of the things i proposed in the above linked post have exactly the same problems at this point - there really isn't a simple, quick, killer answer on the table or anywhere near it.
  • Information flows too slowly
    There are people that call themselves search engine optimizers that are out there on forums right now talking about optimizing their META tags - with me? It would just take far too long for this information to filter down to the lowers tiers of the SEO knowledge base.

The Solution Lies with Blog Software Vendors

For the above reasons i think that the solution to blog spam rests with the software guys, there's going to be just too much collateral damage if the search engines start excluding comments, or devaluing links from comments and it simply is not a viable solution in the real world.

On the other hand, despite having to work hard at it with changing the way comments work and releasing new software and patching old, it *is* a very viable solution for the software folks to take control of this. Which brings me to my next point.

Six Apart Arrogance - And you WordPress et al...

Has anyone heard of any of these companies talking to blog spammers? Or talking to people like Danny, myself, any number of other blogs that operate in the Search sphere? I haven't. (if you do though, please let me know in the comments..)

I trackbacked six apart a few times with the other piece linked above but have not heard from them, they could talk to any number of comment spammers right here, publically on Threadwatch or contact them in private - how hard is that? These guys need to stop pretending that they are the only thing in the world and that the rest of the net community doesn't exist. In fact, bloggers in general need to stop beleiving they invented the internet, do a quick unplugging of heads from arses and start communicating outside of their limited world in order to solve this problem.

Lets have some views on comment spam and solutions eh guys?



Problem with leaving it to the software creators is others will always find an exploit. Time and money spent preventing comment spam would be better spent on adding features and other improvements.

After reading JasonD’s blog post about Legalities and Moralities maybe one solution is to make it illegal just like spam email :)

I keep hearing comments that

I keep hearing comments that it is the blogger's responsibility to police spam. Of course it is a bit self serving for the people doing the vandalism to blame the victim.

Every time somebody comment spams a blog they are not only vandalizing the site, they are also stealing the blog owners time. Time is money.

I am about willing to break a hard and fast rule of mine about not filing SE spam reports. If the spammers want the SE's to pay attention to their URL, perhaps they should get some real scrutiny.

It pains me to even contempate this but I tend to want to fight back when I am being kicked around.


Every time somebody comment spams a blog they are not only vandalizing the site, they are also stealing the blog owners time. Time is money.

That's just a general gripe though Brad. It's perfectly true, and i agree with the point on it's own, but in the context of finding a solution it's just so much griping is it not?

Solutions really aren't hard to find, i suggested a few reasonable ones in the other thread linked in this post - they're quite viable and not so hard to do - but yes, it is the bloggers responsibility.

Not however quite as you state it. It's the blog vendors responsibility i think.

  • You can blame the spammers, but that wont fix it.
  • You can appeal to the search engines, but that has holes a mile wide in it
  • You can assign responsibility with individual blog owners, but that's really not fair or viable for many reasons
  • OR, you can have the vendors build better systems rather than whine about it and do nothing...

See where im coming from?

>spam report


302 the MF's :-)

I see your point. Had to gri

I see your point. Had to gripe, cos I had just got done deleting 11 spam comments and trackbacks right before that. It gets old.

I think it will take more than just the software vendors -- for every measure there will be countermeasures and will turn into a cat and mouse game. Seems to me there has to be some sort of real penalty for the spammers (I'm starting to sound like Doug here) in addition to the coding solutions.

My Blogger blogs never get comment spammed because of all the redirects. That makes it kinda nice.

Isn't this a bit ridiculous?

Has anyone heard of any of these companies talking to blog spammers? Or talking to people like Danny, myself, any number of other blogs that operate in the Search sphere? I haven't. (if you do though, please let me know in the comments..)

Like a blog spammer is going to listen to the companies! Should email application developers talk to email spammers and ask them to kindly tell them how to stop them spamming peoples email accounts?

Maybe I missed the point. I dunno.

I 302 them... but

I going one step further using the blacklist I,m rewriting a small procedure to go get the webpage duplicate and 302 then check weekly for changes ;) will also have Flood MF option too hehehe



Why Funnyname?

Whereas im not in the same league as some that visit TW, i've done a bit of blog bothering myself in the past, and have posted on a number of occasions including this thread on ways to stop spammers.... So, has DaveN and a number of others...

If the blog spam goodies dry up, it really wont make all that much difference to the spammers - because it will ALL dry up (or at least become much harder) so all of the competition will feel it aswell.

This means that they will just have to find some other way to get results in high competition areas (and that aint tough.. blog spam is just the easy road right now) and their game will move on, most likely to areas that wont affect bloggers at all.


ok i'm looking at blog spam as being roughly comparable to email spam. there are (kind of) solutions to email spam - good filters n stuff but none of them is perfect and there's always some guy with a hotmail account who's gonna open it up and have a look and click through and buy.

same way, there will always be some one with a blog with the wrong settings or a spammer who finds a way past whatever solution is implemented (most seem to be filter based like email solutions) so there will always be fertile ground for blog spam i reckon.

Added: Oh yeah, the ridiculous bit - i guess most bloggers put blog spammers in the same category as email spammers. sorta hidden away figures theres no communicating with really. put a big heap of IMO on that, as i've done SEO and i know there are the old "gray areas" :-)

thats my take on it anyway - i guess it depends on whether you think the email / blog analogy holds up

Doesn't have to be perfect

If the blog software guys could just raise the bar high enough, it would be good enough. You cant stop it as even capthas can be broken as mentioned in the other thread but if you implement enough of the proposed suggestions, including captchas and a restructuring of the basic comment layout then the bar would be high enough to bring comment spam to the level of mild trickle rather than total deluge.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about manual blog spamming and trackback spamming - some of the very best spam, we agreed, doesnt look like spam at all and is done for very different purposes. Still aimed at blogs though.

I've seen some very high profile manual comment spam and i'd say it works a treat...

when is spam not spam?

I peronally don't think making appropriate comments which add to the conversation but contain a link is spamming, if you sit down the pub with your mates and recommend your client because you genuinely think they would be a good service for them is that conversation spamming?

IMO if it doesn't look like spam because it fits into the flow so well and it doesn't break the rules then it's placement marketing. The same message could be spam in one place and valid in another.


i would say what you call some of the "very best spam" probably isn't spam at all?

there's a benefit in putting a good post onto a high profile blog and just putting your link into the appropriate field so it appears as whatever you've put your name as. gets the spiders flowing in and if you can make it a keyword so much the better

if its a good insightful post thats on topic, no problem right? you're adding to the content value of the blog.

also i'm reminded of this discussion i read the other day on a blog about the
pro's and con's of captcha's with regards to how they affect accessibility and put some commenters off. i doubt there will be a one-solution for all that everyone will accept

hmm..was that spam? would it be if that was my site? how long is a piece of string?

lol i think i need a cuppa tea and a smoke


strangely enough that was the line i took in the conversation we had. I was talking about an idea i had for a site and said i'd be making judicious use of trackback and comments to get the word out - my friend saw this as spam, and i see his point - it's just semantics at the end of the day though...

As for that link being spam, no, not even if it were your site - i work on a simple rule (for im a simple chap..): if it's highly relevant to the conversation then it's a good link regardless of who owns it.

The only small exception to that is when people never comment or participate except to drop a link - then mrs Nick W gets real mad and forces me to take a stern line with the evil miscreant hehehe...

>placement marketing

I couldnt agree more Gurtie. Im a big fan of it. On forums I like to write either very provocative or very detailed/valuable thread starters on my chosen topic and make sure that my sig is in place (or a user title etc..) - im relatively good at it (sorry, i cant even spell modstey) and the threads are good fun and spark some useful debate more often that not - some see this as spamming, or self promotion. I think they're full of shit, clearly.

In essense, it's just a little payback for adding good content to a discussion and i personally think it's lovely when someone comes by here and drops threads on their personal topic and puts a discreet mention of their services in the thread. like "in my job as a..." kind of thing - shows a little style IMO and works for all concerned :-)

you have to love a good theoretical argument

ok now that gets tricky. To me if you want to take the 'it's all spam' argument to its logical conclusion spamming needn't include a link or even a direct reference, it's a comment (which may or may not skew the conversation from its intended line) for the sole point of promoting your product, brand..... or viewpoint?

and you can see where I'm headed here I'm sure.....

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