Tag Archives: spam

Unique Comments and My Policy

Your comment might not have shown up in one of my posts, even though I continued my commitment to you:

I am extremely conservative about deleting comments. I only delete those that are not contributing to the conversation, AND that conspicuously lure people to unrelated sites, OR that I am certain are unintelligible gibberish. I never delete a comment merely because I disagree with it, or find it disturbing.

Until this month, cleaning up the WordPress Akismet spam filter was easy. The “real” commenters were conspicuous amongst the ads for clothes, medications, and travel. Usually the “real” ones merely included links, or wrote  lengthy paragraphs that Akismet incorrectly interpreted as spam. They were usually from familiar friends.

Spam Cairn, by Laurel F, used under Creative Commons License by-sa 2.0

Today, I gave the filter the benefit of the doubt for a few seconds, and deleted several comments before examining them carefully. Akismet had identified hundreds of comments as being spam this month, mostly from people who gave Facebook URLs. I was reading through the comments and found that many were beautifully written and insightful. I didn’t want to delete any sincere comments, so here is what I did:

  1. Sorted spam by name of commenter
  2. Deleted irrelevant comments that were obviously advertising, OR unintelligible gibberish
  3. Deleted ones that were written to someone who was not mentioned in the post or comments (e.g., “Joanne, thanks for that incredibly helpful summary…”).
  4. Sorted comments by name of post

Here, I got stuck for a while. The first comment was from someone who gave their URL, which linked to a Facebook account (with the same name as the commenter) that was opened in 2012, and only had a portrait. No friends, no posts.  The next commenter gave the URL to a Facebook account that hasn’t been used since 2012.

Next issue, each of the comments had one scrambled word (e.g., “cnoeidsr” is probably “consider”). The misspelled word was always in the first line of the comment, and the rest of the entry was usually spelled correctly.

Next, I noticed that ALL of these suspect comments gave different Facebook URLs, and none of them had Gravatars.

Have you seen this? Before I approve/delete the dozens that passed my previous tests, what do you recommend? Why?

  • Trust Akismet and delete them all?
  • Approve and edit the ones that are intelligent, insightful, or offer some value to the discussion, according to my policy?
  • Approve just the ones that I consider valuable – for a limited time only – and then revise my policy?
  • Approve each comment, and delete the commenter’s URL if the Facebook profile looks dead?
  • Approve them all?

I continued analyzing:

5. Several comments began with datelines and time signatures from years ago.

6. Several of the posts that were attributed to several different commenters ended with, “Was this answer helpful”?

So, I copied and pasted parts of some comments, and quickly found a few that were duplicated from other sites (no typos in the originals), submitted by people with different identities! I’m sweeping out the lot of them (even though many of them were LOVELY!). I don’t want plagiarism in my blog. BUT, I might want to let those other websites know that I exist, so some of those commenters might stop by Smile

So, now you know: Akismet is a damn good spam filter! Mystery solved?

Reminder: if you submit a comment on my blog, and the message comes up stating that your comment is “awaiting moderation”, please let me know by using my Contact Form so I can retrieve it. I value all comments that come from my readers!

Image Credit:
Spam Cairn, by Laurel F, used under Creative Commons License by-sa 2.0

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