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What is comment spam?

by Brian Brown (follow me on Twitter): March 9, 2007

El Jefe of El Bloggo Torcido left a comment the other day that included a link back to his blog. This got me thinking about comment spam. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't consider El Jefe's comment as comment spam, but I realized it might be helpful to write about identifying and pointing out why it wasn't comment spam. [note: you can see the comment I'm referring to, and some witty banter, at the bottom of this post.]

Comment spam is when someone leaves a comment on your blog for the sole purpose of creating a link back to their blog. The theory is that this creates a link to their blog from another website and will boost search engine rankings, which is somewhat true.

The gray area is that it is OK to include a link back to your blog in the comments of another blog as long as it contributes to the conversations being discussed on the post and in the comments.

Eljefe That's why El Jefe's comment is perfectly fine, although it might not obviously appear that way. Taken out of context, it looks like El Jefe's comment is a blatant attempt at comment spam. However, El Jefe is a frequent commenter on PJ and when he says to check his blog out for great examples of what I'm talking about in my post (which happens to be the use of comments!), he's adding value to my readers because his blog is  a great example of how readers use comments to create a conversation.

Had I not been familiar with El Jefe and his blog, I may have flagged his post as comment spam. This means the comment would be deleted as 'junk' and his computer's IP address would be banned from ever leaving a comment on this blog again (fairly straightforward things to do on a Typepad blog). But since I've "spoken" with El Jefe many times, I know he's leaving the link to add value to my post, not for selfish reasons. Well, maybe a little for selfish reasons, but that's fine because it still adds value to my readers.

The real problem comes when computer programs are leaving spam comments. Your blog might end up with 100 comments a day that aren't even being written by real people, just to add links to someone else's website. Fortunately, the major blog platforms use methods to thwart such nastiness. Typepad has a nice feature called CAPTCHA, for example, which requires you to type in a secret code that is displayed on the monitor to ensure you are a real live human being.

As a result, most blogs on Typepad and Wordpress receive very little comment spam, and when we do, it's pretty easy to take care of.

Finally, the proper way to publicize your blog on other people's blogs is to leave good, constructive comments. As long as you are adding value to the conversations, it's pretty acceptable to add a link back to your blog if there is a particular post you've written that ties into the subject of conversation. Keep in mind that every comment you leave does not have to contain a link back to your site. Just add one when it's helpful and the numbers of visitors on your blog will steadily grow.

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