Why Spammers Leave Comments on Blogs

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Monty Python's Spam sketchThe term "spam," in its e-context, references the Monty Python sketch in which a restaurant adds spam (canned spiced ham) to everything, whether you want it or not. Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam.

According to Jeffrey S Rosenthal's book Struck by Lightning: the Curious World of Probabilities, spam brings in fifteen responses for every million emails sent out (data current in 2005). It costs a dollar to have someone send out ten thousand spam emails. A hundred dollars for a million. Fifteen responses at ten bucks each, we're talking fifty dollars profit. Plenty of digital waste for a meagre profit. But there are other ways to snag customers.

 

Search engines rank websites based on a number of factors, most of which they don't divulge. But if a site is linked to from multiple outside sources, that's a good thing. Higher ranking.

 

So spammers submit comments on websites and include links to the site they're paid to promote. The link might be in the comment, or show up as part of the commenter's ID.

 

As of February 2011, according to Wikipedia, there are more than 156 million blogs in existence. Just like with hand-written journals, back when people still did that, there are plenty of strong starts. But friends fail to gush. Fame doesn't come, like it did for Stuff White People Like or PostSecret. Magazine editors don't email. The hit counter remains discouragingly low. The blogger loses interest. But the blog remains, gathering digital dust.

 

spammerIn come the spammers. Leaving comments on posts. Especially older ones. The blogger might only check her site periodically, and probably doesn't comb through all of her old entries. The comments stay. Their links are detected by search engines, which rank their sites that much higher when people want to find cheap watches, knock-off fashions and boner pills.

 

Here at Beams, authors are notified any time someone comments on one of their pieces. The newest comments are displayed on the side bar. When spam comes up, we delete those suckers pronto!

 

But one persistent spammer seems to have an affinity for Sr. Chela's Shut the F**k Up and Practice: Engaging the Collective for our Growth. Poorly worded comments appear in this particular post on a daily basis, and are unpublished as quickly as they appear.

 

Why poorly worded? Because you need a person to create an account on this site, and many others. A 2011 Cisco Systems report says spammers primarly come from countries whose first language is not English. Poor people. From poor countries. Working for cheap. And leaving comments like this:

 

"I placed on the web site of the feedback, and share your blog the author's big believers understand. I will recommend my friends to have a look, look forward to the new content."

 

If you have an old, dead blog, it may be hosting parasitical spam like that.

 

And that's why spammers leave comments on blogs. Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam.

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8 comments

  • Comment Link Crow Tuesday, 03 April 2012 03:24 posted by Crow

    Part of the amazing Internet Ecosystem. Maybe we should rally a Beams army to start spamming across the web ;)

  • Comment Link John Church Tuesday, 03 April 2012 14:50 posted by John Church

    So it's "THEM" that's slowing down my netf**x. LOL. I guess I know it for what it is but I try to keep my publishing efforts for me (Please check it out) at www.virginvalleyopal.com and my wordpress blog (which is not sales copy.) http://www.virginvalleyopal.com/talkin/
    with only the one Amazon widget on the one links page for outside advertising.
    Keep the net at arms length. F.B.Purity (intuitive screening)programs and I personally have to approve all comments on my own blog, pages, sales places. If a commenter is going to be discouraged by having their words screened, I don't have to publicize that opinion. Spammers drove that decision actually. Need to reverse spam them for my own spam .....OH Yeah, they have spam filters!!!!

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Tuesday, 03 April 2012 20:37 posted by TJ Dawe

    Crow - the Internet Ecosystem has grown in ways no one would have predicted. This is one of them. and I feel lucky to be alive in a time of such bizarre change.

    A Beams spamming campaign... We've discussed various ways of upping our readership, but that one has yet to be seriously considered. We'll probably stick with gradual, organic growth from people who like the quality of the articles enough to come back.

    Facebook keeps offering encouragement to buy Facebook ads, showing up samples of what they'd look like in the sidebar. I have to say I've yet to be tempted. I never click on Facebook ads. Do you?

    John - really interesting blog. Opal mining in Nevada. I'm hugely curious as to what brought you to Beams and Struts.

    Approving comments is a great way to stymy the spammers. That one spammer seems to have cooled off of the article I mentioned being their frequent target on this site. But we've had to institute commenting approval briefly in the past, when the spammers were coming at us like Hawaiian waves.

    The anti-spam technology evolves and the spamming techniques evolve. So goes the dance of evolution in the digital age.

  • Comment Link Crow Wednesday, 04 April 2012 22:07 posted by Crow

    Very exciting indeed TJ! It's amazing how it's grown since the first time I jumped on a Macintosh in the late 90's.

    My first memory of the internet is downloading a pirated copy of Sim City 2000 in the late 90's. That part of the ecosystem definitely hasn't changed :) What used to be Warez are now Torrentz - things die and 10 new things take their place.

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Thursday, 05 April 2012 19:22 posted by TJ Dawe

    Crow, just as the title "Why Spammers Leave Comments on Blogs" would have made no sense whatsoever to someone in the mid-90s, so much discourse now involves new lingo. Case in point - Sim City 2000, "what used to Warex are now Torrentz" - could you expand on that? I feel like someone from the mid-90s all of a sudden...

  • Comment Link Crow Friday, 06 April 2012 16:30 posted by Crow

    ha :) Good to hear you're feeling some nostalgia!

    Warez was a term used for pirated software made available to the public by software crackers - there was a huge spike in "Warez Sites" in the mid-late 90's that made this copyrighted software accessible to the average Joe who didn't necessarily know much about the Internet.

    This part of the ecosystem evolved from warez being hosted in a specific place (FTP File Servers) online and being pulled one-directionally, constantly by users, to being shared from person to person via applications such as Limewire & Napster, eventually becoming a living and breathing network of file sharing through what are now called Torrentz.

    I may be a bit off in some of the specifics but hope that gives some better insight into this part of the Internet Ecosystem from my experiences!

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Monday, 09 April 2012 16:56 posted by TJ Dawe

    Crow - thanks for this explanation. Really does solidify my sense of William Gibson being one of the most relevant - if not THE most relevant chronicler of our interesting times. Technology is fluid and omnipresent and fascinating and touches us all. And continues to evolve in ways as unpredictable as the myriad ways living cells and organisms have evolved.

  • Comment Link dima Monday, 18 June 2012 00:53 posted by dima

    Warez was a term used for pirated software made available to the public by software crackers - there was a huge spike in "Warez Sites" in the mid-late 90's that made this copyrighted software accessible to the average Joe who didn't necessarily know much about the Internet.

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