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Comment Spam

Brian Hayes, author of American Scientist‘s computing science column and author of the bit-player blog, has a very nice article on issues with spam in the comments of his blog.  My blog is nowhere near as popular as Brian’s, but I too attract a reasonable amount of spam.  Some spam is easy:  autogenerated, lots of links, easy to identify by things like Akismet.  This is the stuff I never see, which is good since it runs about 100/day.  The software simply handles things.

But other spam takes a bit more effort.  As Brian points out, there is a market for people to browse the web, putting in comments with an included link back to whoever is doing the paying.  Some of this is obvious:  “Good post.  I like your blog.” with a return link to a hairdresser is just not credible.  Some other posts are harder to be sure about:  they look on topic, but are a bit off (see the “Blue Fire” comment for an example).  Perhaps it is a language barrer?  Perhaps I am not smart enough to see the connection?  But it is fascinating to see.  As Brian wonders:

I’m both fascinated and appalled to learn that the Internet economy can support this activity. What’s the going rate for writing comment spam? Is it worth a penny to get your link briefly exposed to the vast daily readership of How about a tenth of a penny?

I get about one of these a day on my site.  This is less than I used to get since I have closed down comments on older posts.  Depending on how bad the comment is (and the atrociousness of the linked site), I have four levels of response to these comments (I moderate all comments from “unknown” people):

  1. SPAM!  I mark it spam, which I hope goes into Akismet’s algorithm so that similar stuff is more likely to be marked spam (ideally on more than just my machine).
  2. I delete it.  Nice try, but this one’s not getting by me.  But you are welcome to try again.
  3. I edit it to remove the link and let the comment through (like I did with “Blue Fire”).  I suspect this is most frustrating to the commentator who I presume does not get paid for his/her efforts.
  4. I let it through, link and all.  The link needs to have some relevance to operations research in this case.  And maybe someone gets paid a penny or two.  This doesn’t happen very often!

It is nice to see that the reaching the readership of Michael Trick’s Operations Research Blog has some value to someone.  But you are going to have to read up on the world of operations research if you want to get past my filters!

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Gary Carson | November 9, 2009 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    They aren’t trying to reach your readership as much as they are trying to reach search engines.

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