Invasion of the Blog Snatchers Part 1: Recognising SPAM

INVASIONSpammers and hackers invade 1000s of blogs without the owners even realising. Lynn Serafinn shares strategies for assertive action against these malicious attacks.

In The 7 Graces of Marketing, the 3rd ‘Deadly Sin’ is ‘Invasion’. To be honest, I consider nearly all forms of so-called ‘legitimate’ marketing these days to be ‘invasive’, including television and radio adverts, billboards, magazine adverts, product placement, and so on. But while many would argue that this kind of advertising is necessary, our modern world has given rise to a new breed of cyber-marketing that I believe we would all agree is invasive—spamming and hacking.

Blog invasion is such an important ethical issue, and it really is time we got serious about addressing it collectively. Spammers are the curse of many a well-meaning blogger, and for many of us, spam comments are an everyday occurrence.  Every couple of years, I also see a wave of widespread hacking into WordPress sites (one such wave occurred within the past couple of months).

To address this wave of invasion, I’ve written this 4-part article series ‘Invasion of the Blog Snatchers’:

Being able to recognise SPAM is the first step in being able to protect your site against it. So today, in Part 1, we’ll look at the many different (and sometimes amusing) ways spammers will try to fool you into allowing their comments to appear on your blog.

Blog SPAM – What it Looks Like

When we think of the word ‘SPAM’, most of us think of all the junk email we receive from people we don’t know talking about web services, fake designer watches, cheap pharmaceuticals and other unsolicited (and typically irrelevant) communications. But SPAM is also a common occurrence on blogs, although some who may be new to blogging may not immediately recognise it.

Usually, SPAM enters your blog through comments on posts or pages. When blogging was new, and bloggers were unsuspecting victims, spammers were pretty easy to detect. SPAM comments would not really comment on the post at all, and would instead talk about other websites and other products.

But as bloggers have become savvier, and many technical tools have become available to identify likely SPAM automatically, spammers have become even more deceptive (Deception being ‘Deadly Sin’ number 5). Below are some sure-fire signs of SPAM to help you identify it on your site.

SIGN 1 OF SPAM: Buttering You Up

Sometimes you might see comments on your blog that seem to be very ‘flattering’ (although not always understandable). Here are a few examples I copied from my blog’s SPAM filter today:

‘I never thought I would agree with this opinion, but I’m starting to see things differently.’

‘I saw your post awhile back and saved it to my computer. Only now have I got a chance to reading it and have to tell you good work.’

‘There is certainly a great deal to find out about this issue. I love all of the points you made.’

‘Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude!’

SIGN 2 OF SPAM: Total Gibberish

Here’s a couple of my recent SPAM comments, which I thought were hysterically funny:

‘This article made me become shiny. After doing some reading of this article, I learned a lot. I will follow your blog. I wish everyone like me here bring in happy, gains moved…’

‘Metal roofs become quickly heated compared to other synthetic drugs which are not
a part of that. It promises results, backing up a camper trailer is nothing like an official recruitment agency per se, but the second offence was to be given a jury trial. Of course, the above reasons justify the popularity of the office, absolutely everything is part of the lighting portion.’

Related Article:
10 Steps for Turning Your Blog Content into a Book or eBook

Huh?

When comments are gibberish, it’s not necessarily that the person can’t speak English well (although a shocking amount of SPAM I receive comes from former Soviet States, China or South America), but rather because these are simply spun and tossed together using online translators. Often, gibberish is also a sign of SPAM Type #3: Flooding You with Keywords.

SIGN 3 OF SPAM: Flooding You with Keywords

A third type of SPAM is when it is flooded with keywords. Sometimes those keywords have to do with the spammer’s website, while other times they are dancing on the heels of the keywords on your site. I’ve even received comments here that were copied and pasted dictionary definitions of keywords like ‘ethics’ (ironic, ain’t it?). Other times, the comments are just crowded with keywords that get a high number of hits (like ‘computer’ or ‘mobile phone’ or even ‘help the earth’), hoping it will show up when people do Google searches. Here’s a particularly amusing example:

‘An online magazine shares some features with a blog and also with online ‘To be sure wholly with hamster, presently connected with mobile phone plus computer swindles ppl cannot trust without knowing it properly, my hubby has been extremely intrigued but wait, how is it possible to Your acquire required heat and also M integrate right into a home process if it might be manufactured nevertheless produce more than enough capability to in fact aid individuals lowering consumption, an individual show myself it truly does work and anyone say and we will enjoyably spend all of our salary that will help the earth.’

SIGN 4 OF SPAM: Goading You to Comment Back

The fourth type of SPAM is when the commenter not only butters you up, but also ‘appears’ to be desperate to connect with you. Here are two I received this week (spelling/grammar errors are in the original comments):

‘Oh my goodness! an incredible article dude. Thanks However I am experiencing concern with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting similar rss downside? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx.’

‘I’m not sure why but this web site is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.’

Rule of Thumb

Many an inexperienced (and unsuspecting) blogger will approve such comments, thinking these were honest, enthusiastic responses to their writing. But if you read all these comments closely, you’ll notice they say NOTHING whatsoever about the specific topic of the article or blog. And that’s because the spammers who posted them haven’t read a word you’ve written.

RULE OF THUMB:
If you see comments like these on your blog, you should never EVER approve them or allow them to appear on your site.

That’s what you should NOT do with them, but what SHOULD you do with them? And how do you make sure they don’t sneak through onto your site?

  • In Part 2 of ‘Invasion of the Blog Snatchers’, we’ll look at the reasoning behind these seemingly nonsensical SPAM comments and why SPAM is such a great example of the Deadly Sin of Invasion in marketing.
  • Then, in Part 3, I’ll also share some practical strategies on how to make sure SPAM is dealt with effectively so your blog remains an example of the ‘Grace of Invitation’ for your legitimate readers.
  • Finally, in Part 4, we’ll look at hackers and how to protect yourself against this particularly aggressive breed of cyber-invader.
Related Article:
5 Ways Being a Public Speaker Can Help Your Ethical Business

Please be sure to subscribe to the 7 Graces of Marketing blog. That way you will be sure to receive all 4 articles, and all our future ‘grace-full’ articles on ethical marketing.

As usual, I welcome your spam-free comments and feedback below. 😉

Lynn Serafinn
7th May 2013
(Happy 30th to my gorgeous daughter and fantastic author @VrindaPendred)

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Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of MarketingLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

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Comments

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9 Responses to Invasion of the Blog Snatchers Part 1: Recognising SPAM

  1. I’ve seen examples of the first 2 signs of spam on different blog posts as well as the gibberish type and did not approve them. Including 1 from a coach who had nothing to say about the post but was advertising her services! I changed the Comment Rules, to give her the benefit of the doubt and in return I got a sentence saying something about the post and then the advertising for her services which are the same as mine! After having a dozen comments declined, they stopped. Looking forward to reading the other two parts.

    • Thanks for reading and for sharing your experience, Vatsala. I hope to hear more from you after you read the next 2 parts in the series. These are the kind of comments I ENJOY receiving. 🙂

  2. This article is very timely for me. Just recently started a new blog and the spam has been coming, thick and fast! Look forward to reading your series on this subject. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Fiona says:

    ha ha Ihad to laugh at those, i get so many and I usually look at the email addresses, they are always very dodgy looking and most of the ones I get are something to do with shoes. Obviously picked up that i like shoes somewhere along the way. I remember being a new blogger and not realising that some of the more general comments were spam. I used akismet on my wordpress which seems effective in blocking the comments from appearing on my site, but such a pain to have to delete them. Great post Lynne. Lets stop the invasion!!

    • Hi Fiona,
      Yes, in Part 3 (coming tomorrow) I’m going to talk about Akismet, but also about a few other strategies that have massively cut down on my spam. Hope you’ll come back and let me know if you find them helpful.

      Lynn

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