June 26, 2012

Poll Results, Conclusions, & Comments

Folks, here are the results of my what-to-do-about-spam poll:

But it only equals 98%.  ?????

Even though nobody likes the current word verification on Blogger, it was readers' preferred anti-spam method with 45% of the votes. That's the option I went with, and I'll explain why below.

Comment moderation came in second. As many of you point out, it can be time consuming if one has a lot of comments. I think too, it stifles a conversation, if the comments aren't approved quickly. On interesting posts, readers often read through the comments as well, and add their thoughts to what's being said. I also considered that I'd still be confronted with the spam and to be honest, I don't even want to read about free photos of celebrities in their birthday suits.

Disallowing anonymous accounts came in third, even though almost 100% of spam is in this category. To those of you who do not allow anonymous commenting on your blogs, I'm curious as to how much spam you do get. There are actually very few of you who comment via anonymous, mostly WordPress bloggers. Those who do always sign their name, so I know who respond to. I appreciate that.

I mentally divide comment spam into two types: the obnoxious kind, and the sales kind. The obnoxious kind is almost always about porn. Thanks to Blogger's excellent spam filter, these never get published. But the spammers know that. Their target is you, the blog owner. They know that if you have comments forwarded to your email account, you still have to look at them, even if it's only to delete them. Then too, legitimate comments sometimes get routed to the spam folder, so I still have to fish though it on occasion to approve these. Spammers hope to either hook you or to annoy you. Whether I disable word verification or choose comment moderation, I still have to deal with them and I feel like they still win in a sense. Unfortunately I get too many of these and since word verification eliminates them, I've gone back to that. There you have it.

The biggest complaint about word verification is that it is often impossible to read. I think we have a couple of options here. Rather than get annoyed, you can try clicking on the reload button.

Click the reload button for a clearer word verification

Within one or two reloads, you should get one that is easier to read.

If you have a Blogger blog, consider sending feedback. You'll find a "send feedback" button on the lower right hand corner of your behind the scenes pages.

Click on "send feedback," to, well, send feedback

I send feedback as needed. If I'm having a problem, I state it, but I never criticize. While Blogger staff never respond personally, the problems do get addressed. Also, if I like something, I let them know. If they fix something, I thank them. I did send feedback about word verification, asking if it could be simplified somehow because it was discouraging people from commenting.

Some of you have said you don't comment on blogs with word verification and I respect that. I'm still honored by your visits. For those who do comment, I always try to return the blog visit unless the comment is from the other kind of spammers.

The other kind of spam is what I call sales spam. These comments are more likely to get through Blogger's spam filter when they are posted by a real person who can negotiate word verification. Oftentimes they seem relevant to the post, but sometimes they are so off base as to be hysterical. I delete them all, and here's why.

Search engine rankings take a number of things in to account. One of them is the number of links to one's site, especially links coming from other sites with a lot of traffic. You can see how they'd think that by commenting on blogs, especially well read ones, they'd boost their rankings. Or so they hope. What most of these spammers probably don't know, is that Google automatically uses the 'rel="nofollow"' attribute tag for all links in the comments. (Read it from the horse's mouth, here.) This is a computer code which tells search engine robots not to follow the link. Hence comment links do not get indexed and do not boost search engine rankings. Or maybe these spammers do know it. In that case their hope is that you will click through to check out the link. That counts as a hit and hits boost rankings too.

Since sales spam often looks like a legitimate comment, how can I tell where their link will take me without clicking on it? In both Firefox and Chrome browsers, the link's URL will be displayed in the lower left hand corner if you hold your cursor over the link.

By holding your cursor over the link, it's destination address
will be displayed in the lower left hand corner of Chrome & Firefox

These are the only two browsers I have, so if you use a different browser, please let us know if this works for you.

If the comments are "anonymous" this technique will usually show a link to a commercial website or blog. Occasionally though, spammers will register with Blogger to get around the "no anonymous" option for comments. In that case, hovering over their link will show a Blogger profile. Under their profile you can hover over their links to find out where they will take you.

Why do spam comments usually end up on old posts? One reason of course, is to try to sneak it in. If a blogger doesn't have their comments forwarded to their email address, they may not even know about them. Sales spammers seem to like to put them on posts relevant to what they're trying to sell. They do a search with a particular keyword, like "kitchen cabinets," to find relevant posts to drop comments for free links back to their site. I have to assume though, that if they have the spare time to do that, then they or their product must not be all that great. Otherwise wouldn't they be busy with real sales?

One way to deal with these is to turn off comments for that particular post.

Choose a "don't allow" option to
close comments on a particular post.

That's done from the post editor. On the right sidebar of the post you wish to close comments on, choose "options" and select the one you want.

In the end, what to do about these is a matter of preference. You may feel that having the comment is a fair trade. I delete them all. I think that putting them on old posts or trying to pass them off as interested comments is sneaky. Who would do business with sneaky people? And why would I want to give free advertising for a product or service I would never purchase? Especially since the gist of this blog is about working toward self-sufficiency. Legitimate sales folks will do one of two things. They will either ask the blog owner for a link, or they will advertise through AdSense. AdSense give a blogger an option to allow sales ads on their blog and make a little money for doing so.

Well, that's enough off topic stuff for this century. It's relevant to blogging though, so I hope it it offers a suggestion or two for new bloggers especially. If you have another idea, I'd like to hear that too.

Next post.... back to all things homesteading.


jean said...

Leigh, this was a great post. It enlightened me very much and I learned from it. Thank you for posting this. It's info to be kept in my "file".

jean said...

BTW, I keep forgetting to tell you when I visit, your post is great info for me all around. The links you provide is such a wonderful help. Thanks, again, Leigh!! Your posts make word verification no trouble at all for me.

Renee Nefe said...

I agree that this is a great post. One can only speculate on the motives of the spammer, but it is nice that they seem deterred by the word verification.

and this morning's verification isn't trying to hurt my tired eyes...that or my fuzzy vision is seeing the fuzzy clearly?

DebbieB said...

I voted for turning word verification on again. I'd rather go through a little trouble to post my comment than have those unsavory people take advantage of you with spam. I don't have nearly the amount of blog traffic that you do, but I still get occasional spam, and it's a pain to have to deal with it.

Screening out anonymous commenters can exclude legitimate posters - I have several friends who are not very "internet savvy" and they read my blog. I don't want them to have to worry about registering an identity somewhere just to comment,

Great info! I didn't know all that backstory about spammers.

Woolly Bits said...

the downside of having a popular blog! I can understand that you went for word ident. to get rid of spam - and it only really takes a few seconds longer to put it in? one of the reasons I didn't allow ads on my blog (apart from getting very little out of it) - I feel I'd be unfair in blocking unwanted ads in my comments if I allow advertisement on my blog to make some money myself. now, I am much more annoyed about having to sign in again all the time - but that's entirely due to my son having a google account, too:))

Lynda said...

Thanks for the post! You should teach a "blogger" class! I learned alot about the "behind the scenes" of blogging...I knew nothing about these special "buttons"...thanks again!

Leigh said...

Jean, I am so glad this was helpful! That's what I was hoping because this is stuff all bloggers have to deal with.

Renee, you know, it does seem like they haven't been so blurry or hard to figure out lately. That's no small blessing!

Debbie, I agree. I reckon some folks don't mind so it's a personal choice. Good point about disallowing anonymous comments. I do want to make it easy for folks to comment.

Bettina, good point. Something else about AdSense, is that I think bloggers don't actually get to choose what ads are run. I read a post once where a gal had been blogging about a particular political issue and encouraging to vote against it. AdSense ran a pro ad which shocked her readers. Apparently AdSense uses key words to place ads to make them relevant. Backfired in that case!

Lynda, you're welcome! So glad this was useful. There are quite a few good blogs on blogging out there. This particular post just required a little research to pull together.

Benita said...

On mine (Wordpress) I can tell it to not allow comments after so many days - I have mine set at 14 because if someone has been on vacation, then they might try playing catch up and that's okay. Also, only commenters that have been approved before get to go up immediately, now, and the rest are kicked to my email. Luckily, I get very few spams on mine and these two tricks seems to be working for me.

Have you every read some of them, though and checked out their word choices or sentence structure? You can tell they were written in another language (most of mine come from Russia or Ukraine) and have Google or something translate them. Hilarious!!!!

I use the word verification as a bit of a challenge. It's like a puzzle to figure some of them out and I rarely hit reload.

Maxine said...

I'm a serious non-fan of the word verification but if I have something I really want to say, I'll deal with it. I voted for anonymous posting being disallowed. If I have something I think is important enough to share, I'll put my name on it - not hide behind the "anonymous" tag. Hope the word verification helps solve the spam issues.

Linda said...

I didn't vote - sorry! I was going to but then life took hold and I just didn't. I agree with word verification and for me it would be referable over comment moderation. I personally use word verification on my blog as well.

The Stay @ Home-Gardener said...

Drats. I missed my voting duty. My apologies! The word verification is a pain in the butt. However, as Maxine puts it. If you have something to say, you will muddle beyond it. Worry not, I'll still comment! ;D

Leigh said...

Benita, approval of commenters would be nice. I remember when you had double word verification!

Maxine, I'm with you. I'm actually surprised more folks didn't vote to disallow anonymous. Word verification takes care of porn, not sales.

Linda, no matter. Most folks thought word verification was the choice to make.

Cloud, no problem. Glad I'll still get your input!

Unknown said...

I think you need to do what works for you. I have a lot less folowers than you, 36? So I would need to see much bigger #'s to do word verification.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

I'm afraid I missed out on your poll, Leigh . . . must have been when I had a houseful of company. But I would have voted for word verification so it seems like I'd be in with the majority of your voters. I hate spam and luckily I'm not a real popular site as you are . . . but I believe I have No Anonymous Comments checked also.

Leigh said...

Nancy, it is a disadvantage of having so many followers and comments. I think that's what spammers look for. Funny, 'cuz I never thought this many people would be interested.

Janice, no anonymous would be the next step I think, though I agree with the above reasons for not doing that yet. So far I can keep up with the sales spam, which is a relief.

Farmer Jen said...

I missed your poll,but it sounds like you have it handled. Thanks for the info too. My main Blogger blog has word verification enabled with comment moderation kicking in after 14 days.

Reasonable Season (Me) said...

I thought this was an interesting poll, Leigh. I voted for anonymous.

My gardening blog has only a handful of followers, so spammers haven't found me - and when they do, I know I'll have achieved some success/popularity! LOL, kidding!

I do have another non-gardening blog (via blogger) that I keep separate from my gardening one and I've observed that the blogs I network over there do not use word verifiction. However, most of the gardening/farming/homesteading blogs I'm networking with as "Reasonable Season" DO have word verification and often moderation approval employed at the same time!

Very interesting. While I don't like word verification, if it's a conversation I want to participate in, I'll leave a comment. Trade-offs! ;)

Have a great weekend! :D

Leigh said...

Jen, word verification is easiest for me, but so many people dislike it that I wanted to make sure. I followed your lead and added comment moderation after 30 days. About the only thing that ends up on those is sales links.

RS(Me) it's interesting, isn't it? I tried to do without word verification twice now but both times I was flooded with nasty spam. I've got better things to do (like read everyone else's blogs) than to deal with that!