Blog reading: A tip for humans

Once you’ve spent some time blogging, you’ll start to learn the joys of blog spam. Many types exist, but I’d like to focus on a particular type in this tip, because it’s the one that could cause problems for you as a commenter.

You see, one tactic of blog spammers is to create ambiguous comments that someone in a hurry might read as real and approve. The problem is that the link leads back to toe enlargement drugs from Canada or the realest fake watches, most of which arrived here on comets.

These clever folks write messages like, “Great post! I signed up for the RSS feed. Keep up the great work!” and “Well written. I hope to see more of your unmatched writing.”

The spammers know you don’t want to throw away a special message from a friend, and they also know that figuring out whether these are real can be quite challenging. Sometimes their web links seem just related enough that you think they could be genuine. Sadly, many of us have to err on the side of discarding comments that aren’t obviously “real.” Services like Akismet do a great job with the worst of it, but some of these are genuine stumpers. As I did a little background research for this, I found one open-source site offering “a simple interface which allows you to test whether a submitted blog or forum comment is spam or not.”

As has been written here in the past, it’s clear that this is one of the forces driving us toward social media–namely, that the job of dredging these feeds is taken up by the crowd. And people are going to get tougher and tougher about this.

So, if you want your comments to be heard, you’re going to have to work harder to make clear that they’re real. That means more than “atta boy” or “+1” and more “X point was interesting in relationship to Y, and Z would expand this argument further.” You’ll have to provide evidence of actual thought. To shape the discussion, you’ll actually have to take part in it.

For businesses, it will be even tougher. A message with a link back to a site selling something is going to get extra scrutiny. Businesses will have to work even harder to genuinely provide value with their comments–it will become the only way they’ll earn interest.

What’s your perspective? Do comments seem clogged with spam? What makes a great comment in your view? Thanks as always for reading.


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