Are You a Sucker for Ego-Stroking Comment Spam?

If you run a blog, chances are good that you're going to get hit with blog comment spam. There are tools, like Akismet, to help combat this problem in blogging. But Akismet doesn't catch everything. Blog comment spammers keep getting more clever. It seems like it's more difficult every day to separate the spam from true comments. What's sad though is that spammers take advantage of a blogger's desire to be heard and appreciated -- they appeal to the blogger's ego, and their spam makes it through because of this.

How do comment spammers appeal to your ego? They comment just to tell you what a super-duper awesome blog you have. And that's all. They don't actually contribute to a conversation in any way. I'm going to share some examples that are sitting in my spam queue for this blog right now.

This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information.. I will visit your blog frequently for the modern posts.

Hi,I’m taking some time to write you a comment. I hope you don’t mind I’ve bookmarked your page, your post is really usefull for me. Nathaly x

Nice points you made throughout this post. I have never really thought about is like that.

Super-Duper website! I’m loving it!! Will arrive back again – taking you feeds also, Thanks.

First, thanks for your intuitive post. I like your blog and find it exceptionally educational. I like your ability of pointing out (by blogging) little things that others do not take time to say. I discovered it by doing a quest on Google as a consequence I sure will return here when I?ve more time.Thanks

Hey! Gratis for the Blog post! I’m finding it very fascinating. I’m going to bookmark this psot and return. can you tell me where i can find more information on this? Keep it up!

Wow! If I'd approved those and the rest of my current spam comments (just since clearing it out early this morning), I'd feel so good about myself because it sounds like people really love the blog! Oooh, goody! That's how they trap bloggers who don't know any better (or those who simply feel a constant need for validation). Even if more experienced bloggers see through this kind of spam, new bloggers often don't, and you'll find these kinds of spam comments live all over their blogs. They might only catch on if they see the same exact comment show up 5 times, all on different posts or something.

Still think the ego-stroking isn't spam? Plug any of those comments into Google, and see how non-unique you are when it comes to winning their love (and watch how the user names and / or links always seem to change). They spin the comments (swapping in synonyms to make them look a little different) and often sign them with other names, so pull just a portion of each and do a search to see some of the variations that really say the same thing.

Why do spammers leave these kinds of comments? Because they get a link back with their commenter name.

When the Kiss-Ass Approach Doesn't Work

Some bloggers are smart enough to catch onto this kind of spam immediately, and most will see through it eventually. So what do spammers do when that tactic doesn't work as well? They switch it up. Rather than appealing to your ego by stroking it, they attack it.

You'll find an extremely nasty comment or even one just saying you don't know what you're talking about. The idea is to comment in a controversial way that will upset you rather than making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, so you'll approve it and comment back. But they're not really looking for an argument. They won't even be back to see your response.

One of the most common types of blog comment spam I've seen lately is the "your site doesn't look right in XYZ browser," or "your RSS feed doesn't work" variety, even when neither is true. Again, it's to get you to approve it. "Oh, what a helpful commenter!" you might say. You approve it. You check into it. You comment back to say that things look okay on your end. And then you never hear from them again -- until they come back to warn you of the same error next week. Get caught up in this kind of comment spam once or twice and it's not that big of a deal. Keep falling for it though, and your real readers will notice.

How to Identify Blog Comment Spam

Fortunately, while spammers appear to be getting smarter, they're not quite rocket scientists yet. You can still easily identify blog comment spam. Here are some things to look out for:

  • The same, or very similar, comments are posted multiple times on your blog.
  • A search shows the comment is on dozens of other blogs, all unrelated.
  • You don't know the commenter.
  • The commenter's name is just a keyword link (not an actual name).
  • The comment is completely irrelevant to the post it's on (when they tell you a quick news blurb about your own site is the most informative post they've read on the subject, you should take that as a hint).
  • The commenter's link is spammy (going to a completely unrelated site, a porn site, pharmaceutical site, etc.).
  • The comment is either gushing generic niceness or making generic complaints, just to appeal to your emotions (if they really like your post, the comment would be relevant to the content).
  • The comment itself looks almost legit, but they toss in an irrelevant link at the end.
  • The comment is on a very old post  (not always spam, but if they're targeting highly ranked pages on your site, old posts will often get hit, so it's worth looking into).

Why it's Important to Stop Blog Comment Spam

Obviously traditional link spam is annoying to readers and it "cheapens" your entire blog. But ego-stroking spam can be just as bad. It shows that you don't know what you're doing when it comes to managing your own community, and it reeks of desperation for acceptance.

These comments also thin out the real conversation. It's better to have fewer comments with substance than a huge number of "wow, I love this site!" comments that add no value to anyone (other than the spammer getting their link). Readers don't want to sort through that kind of garbage, and as a blog owner it's your responsibility to clean up that mess before it ever becomes public so you avoid wasting your readers' time.

So tell us, what kind of blog comment spam do you most often get hit with (whether or not Akismet catches it the first time around)? How do you deal with comment spammers? Can you think of other ways to help bloggers identify comment spam that I haven't included here? Share your thoughts in the comments (just don't spam!).

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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9 thoughts on “Are You a Sucker for Ego-Stroking Comment Spam?”

  1. Once again you’re right on. (lol, just realized I’ve probably seen that sentence in comment spam.) When someone unfamiliar to me comments, if it doesn’t address the post directly – I check their link and decide from there.

    I also just quietly trash comments with foul language. I don’t mind disagreement, encourage it in fact, but disagreement can be done nicely, and even with some class.

  2. Spammers are certainly sneaky little buggers. Some of the comments have gotten longer, and they’ll even tailor them to your post (automatically pull in the blog name or post name so it looks like they typed it even if it’s a bot just pulling the URL). The links, names, and the posts they happen to be commenting on are the best giveaways on this particular blog.

    I don’t mind foul language as long as it’s directed at me. I’m a big girl and I can take it, and frankly sometimes it’s just amusing to put those commenters in their place publicly (they usually shut up quickly or make a complete ass of themselves — either suits me fine). But when they get nasty with my other writers or other commenters, that’s when I lower the ban-hammer.

  3. lol, I’ll admit to getting snarky back sometimes… but I did have a post yesterday that simply swore at all of us as well as calling all of us, me and my readers, stupid… no need for that… took real pleasure in just deleting him… yeah, it was a him.

  4. okay don’t delete me as spam. 🙂 but this was an eye-opener. I’ve only recently released a business blog (I’ve had a personal one for a while) and I did not even think about the spammers getting nice!

    You’re so excited to get your 1st comment, you can miss something like this. Not to mention that I have real Pollyanna tendencies and always see the good in people. Not necessarily a bad thing but can be certainly naive.

    I had a “great blog” type comment that linked back to an e-zine article. I think I was “niced.” Thanks for the “heads-up” Jenn.

  5. @Anne – There’s definitely no excuse for calling your readers stupid. We had a little snot here once who basically equated me and my readers to the KKK. That was one of those rare situations when they stepped way too far over the line, and they were banned entirely from commenting on the site. I’ve also had some trolls who think they’re safe behind a proxy without realizing they can still be tracked. That’s another situation where I’ll go in and just outright ban someone. I don’t cater to children here.

    @Cathy – You’re right about that new blogger excitement, and that’s exactly what the spammers count on. For people who aren’t well-versed in Internet marketing tactics (especially the black hat side so they know what to look out for), it can come as a slight shock to find out those glowing comments really have nothing to do with what they wrote. Then again, it makes the real comments that much more valuable. 🙂

  6. Hello Jen,

    This is a majorly interesting post! I am sure glad that I did a quest on Google to find this topic. Do you have a lot of expertise in this topic? I am a large fan of your blog writings. Thank you for your writings! Please writing us again on this topic.


  7. @Clint – 😛

    Here’s another piece of comment spam I’ve been seeing several variations of lately:

    “Hey, info So much false, specially from the major news corperations with the big slants to the left or right. Did you see last nights Late Late Show? haha, that was rediculous! Sorry, I’m rambling along again. Have a Great one! Oh one more thingif you have time feel free to check out at my blog”

    It’s then followed with a link to their (completely unrelated) site. Just out of curiosity, is there a reason spammers can’t spell?

  8. I like your use of the term, “ego stroking spam”. I was guilty of having my ego stroked for about 10 minutes after installing one of my first blogs.

    You did answer a question I’ve had about why a spammer would attack one of my articles or my site. I was amazed at this. Silly me. I would never consider answering them but I guess some do and it must work just enough for them to continue. Amazing!

    I did find a free plugin called TanTanNoodles that’s helped a little with what Akismet misses. Thanks for the great post. No really, I mean it. 🙂

    • Yep. Attack spam is much more common now than just a year or so ago. You’ll get random comments saying that you’re an idiot or that your facts are all wrong in your post, or that they disagree strongly with you, blah, blah, blah. But they never elaborate. And when you see a generic insult or criticism, plug the text of the comment into Google. If the same comment was left on a bunch of other sites, you know it’s spam and can delete. If not, then you might be dealing with either a troll or simply a lazy commenter — those seriously miffed over your content will have no problem explaining why and backing up their points.

      Thing is, even if you do respond to the comment the spammer often won’t come back. It’s a one shot deal for the link. It’s more that if they make you take the comment personally you’ll think it’s a legit comment, and publish it just so you can respond. It’s how they get their link.


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