[Edit - comments closed due to spam attacks on this post. Just goes to show you how these idiots work]
I have been brewing on this rant for a while now - so it is kinda a long one. Get a coffee and have a read.
Let me say this from the outset - COMMENT SPAMMERS ARE POND SCUM.
Now what is a comment spammer I might hear you ask? Comment spammers are those very sad and misguided people who float around the internet messing up the place. They leave comments on usually very old blog posts (hoping that the blog owner doesn’t notice I guess) and then leave a link to a commercial site. Perhaps this in the misguided notion that they are helping search engine rankings bring more people to their site and thus making money from page impressions and adwords or other such nonsense. This is all under the broad heading of Search Engine Optimisation or SEO.
SEO used to mean a good thing - all those good things like meta-tags, linking to other sites that were relevant and useful and informative and the free flow of ideas. Now it has come to mean a whole underclass of bottom feeding internet parasites hoping to make money off bone-fide websites, blogs and the like. Modern snake-oil scammers.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE comments as does everybody who has a blog - why else do we have a comments box? But real comments from real people who have found the post informative, interesting or compelling enough to take time out of their day to send a message. I love it and I am more than happy for you to list your own site that I might find informative, interesting or compelling. This is communication with the outside world and the free flow of information that make the internet such a wonderful place. But comment spammers are not wanting to reach out to me, they are trying to earn money for themselves and sell their wares without offering me anything in return.
I have been running a kinda one-goddess campaign against these deluded and recalcitrant individuals. Yes I know, comments “tilting at windmills” and “pissing into the wind” come to mind but a girl needs a hobby I guess.
I do have Akismet and other tools to keep the vile spammers and bots away but occasionally some get through and it makes my blood boil. Especially with stupid comments like: “Hey great site.” or other totally unrelated comments obviously just written by the human equivalent of a robot - probably some poor, underpaid person in a third world country who answered an ad like “Make real $$$ from home!!”, but then that is not my problem.
My blog has no adwords, is paid for out of my own pocket and in no way generates me any money so I have a right to decide what content is appropriate or not. So there - ner!!
Every time I have a human comment spammer post a comment on my blog I send a strongly worded mail to the original poster and as well to the contact for the commercial site they link. I say things like “Whomever you are using for SEO is using unethical practices and are spamming.”
I do feel that most people who hire SEO contractors know very little about the internet and are fooled into doing whatever the agent suggests. Most don’t reply to my form email. But then from time to time I get a nice reply apologising and saying that it won’t happen again, or site owners who claim to be clueless as to the ethics issues surrounding comment spamming. So I enlighten them as to the scourge on the internet that I believe these comment spammers to be.
But over the last week I have had a very interesting email exchange with a real live comment spammer.
Click below the fold for more - read how she drops herself really into the pit of the morally corrupt…
My original email - cut and pasted from the last email I sent out to a comment spammer (I send out a few of these every week):
Somebody associated with your company has been commenting on old posts in my blog. http://www.keitaigoddess.com They have also been linking to your commercial site. I have been removing these comments as I really am not comfortable with people using my non-commercial blog for trying to increase rankings. This is really not a good way to advertise/market yourself. Actually it is pretty much spamming. Spammers are spawn of hell.
As a small business owner I understand the need to advertise and conduct marketing, however, using blogs like mine is unethical. Spamming is a huge problem and spammers really should be locked up and made to repay people like me for the lost productivity and other costs. Don’t do it.
Whomever you have hired to do SEO (Search engine optimisation) is using this very unethical method of comment spamming. Fire them immediately as they are pond scum. Don’t be or associate with pond scum.
I have removed your links from the comments, however, if you do not cease I will totally ban you and submit your details to various blacklists. I am asking you nicely… don’t make me take action.
Her reply (bold formatting is mine):
Hi The Goddess,
I’d like to apologize if my comments may have come across as spam, but I am just a regular person who happens to work for a company that has a commercial site and visits a LOT of websites every week. You are correct for assuming that I am in the search engine optimization business, but I market in other ways, i.e. making my own sites, blogs, writing and editing articles, etc. I visit lots of sites every week and do a lot of research for work and for my personal hobbies (I have lots of those, too), and if I come across something as funny, helpful, productive, or something that just piques my curiosity, I’ll comment, and I’ll leave my commercial site on there.
Now, my intention was not to solicit my services and use your site as a form of advertising. I’ve seen spammers at their worst, and it is not pretty at all. In fact, I hate spammers because I receive junk mail everyday and come across them everyday on various sites.
So again, apologies for coming across as a spammer. I understand why you have removed my links from my comments, but just know that they were done with good intention. Did you also remove my comments or just the links themselves?
Don’t you love the little smiley at the end?
My reply (I was kinda in a bad mood that day):
Thank you for your reply. But I must say that you are deluding yourself if you don’t think of yourself as a spammer. You are under the misguided notion that leaving a link in a comment box on a blog that has do-follow tags brings up your company google rankings. ABSOLUTE RUBBISH!!!
You are wasting your time and mine but posting comments and links on blogs. If you were serious about what you say, then don’t leave a link when you find something that “piques your interest”. Then I would possibly believe you.
You may think that what you are doing is innocent - get a grip and get a proper job. What you are doing is trying to use my blog, and others like it, to increase your own ranking at no cost to you and all the cost to me and in the end attempt to make more money for your commercial blog. My blog is non-commercial, there are no adwords or money making items on it and I pay for it out of my own money and people like you think you can piggy back on my traffic to help yourself. This is despicable and you should be ashamed of yourself by having a job where you are a parasite on the internet.
I am sure you charge clients for your “SEO SERVICES”. Well how about offering me money for trying to use my blog without my permission to earn money for yourself. Not interested? I didn’t think so.
Remove my blog from your list of targets and ask your colleagues do the same. And also consider very carefully your ethics in doing this parasitic job. My blog is for my family and friends to see what I am doing while living overseas. It is NOT for you to try to raise your rankings or use my blog to gain more money from clients.
Then her reply today that had me laughing (Again bold formatting is mine) - she sounds a bit more snippy in this mail. Plus she has checked my source code and done some research on me - methinks I struck a nerve:
If you think that you know the smallest bit about SEO, then you are the one who is deluded. You obviously have no idea what you’re talking about. I work for a professional SEO formerly working at a multi-million dollar company and have brought one other company besides that to over $4 million dollars per month gross by using the same techniques that I’m using now, so your statement that commenting on blogs have no effect on Google rankings is what is complete and pure rubbish. I get paid a good wage for what I do in the US, so I’m not some slave wage worker overseas that hasn’t ever met their employer. I’ve known my employer for quite some time and know his track record is legitimate.
Leaving comments on your blog linking back to our site is a fair trade as long as the comment is relevant and a decent length. Many SEOs say content is king when it comes to ranking in Google and Yahoo, but this is not true. Links are king and links from good websites are king. Content comes in at a close second. We give you content that makes YOUR site rank higher for different keywords and you give us a link back to our site that helps our site rank higher. I don’t see how this is not a fair trade. We’re not “parasites” like the people who comment on blogs and leave (sometimes literally) over 100 links in the comment and completely ruin that page’s pagerank. I’ve seen people put links on blogs that run anywhere from 1 to 200. We leave a relevant reply, take 1 link, and leave. The ones who put more than 1 link in their reply are the parasites, not us.
What I’m doing and my colleagues are doing is completely within the realm of good ethics and I apologize if you don’t think so. As far as the blacklist goes, that will do nothing to harm anyone but you for taking the time you waste adding it to a list.
As far as your blog being for your family and friends, then why not have it private to stop all outside visitors? It is an easy fix, it is called a noindex metatag, you can also do in the the robots.txt, then the search engines will not even index the content for public view, so that was a direct lie! Now who is practicing ethics?
As far as comments costing you money, how is that possible if it is a personal blog that is not for profit? I am sorry to have to open this up for you, but do not be a bigot (look up the definition) with your politically correct rubbish. If you want to deal with the internet, then there are certain things you need to accept, just like anything else in life has pitfalls, so please grow up.
Next, stop the petty name calling trying to identify me or my fellow professional marketers as “scum” and the likes. This makes you just as shallow as todays politicians and media. You are judging from being a “follower” of the crowd and having no clue as to what you are talking about. People without a legit arguement lower theirselves to name calling for 2 purposes which are to build oneself up and to degrade someone else. If you do not want random visitors commenting, then shut comments down or make it a private blog. Period!
Something else worthy of note is the fact that you have an RSS feed for your site. If your site is only supposed to be for “family and friends”, why the RSS? So, again, this makes you a liar.
You also have Google analytics in your site, which again, makes you a liar. Why do you need to check stats if all the site is for is family and friends? Why do you allow trackbacks to sites like madskills.com if it’s only for family and friends. Liar, liar, pants on fire. It’s a totally public blog for EVERYONE to comment on.
And I guess you wouldn’t know anything about how good links help your site rank because you don’t have any links to your site other than internal links from your blog posts. So, who are you to judge what works for SEO and what doesn’t if you don’t practice? You’re obviously one of those people that sits there and tells me “you can’t do that” while I’m obviously sitting here at the computer doing it. You keep telling me “you can’t you can’t you can’t!” make your site rank higher with links from blogs with do-follow tags. Well, “I am, I am, I am”. My boss has been doing this for almost 8 years and rubs elbows frequently with some of the best SEOs in the business. But, you probably wouldn’t know who they are, since you don’t know anything about SEO. Not only that, but we’re also acquainted some of the engineers at Google and Yahoo. So, we have a fairly good idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Next, would a spammer exchange emails like this? I think not. What we do is 100 % ethical,and can bring you a healthy following and loyal visitors since people are creatures of habit and tend to frequent the same places.
Now, with good content and opinions in your comments, your blog then acts similar to a forum, where 1 to 3 signature links are allowed, and they build HUGE followings and will even self police and notify you of spammers, unless they are a bunch of brainwashed, self-righteous people like you.
You really need to know what you are talking about before running your mouth out of ignorance.
On another note, people commenting on your blog and leaving links to their sites doesn’t cost you a dime. And yes, the link I left WAS to one of OUR sites, not a client. We don’t have clients because they’re generally a pain in the ass to deal with. We work for ourselves and ONLY for ourselves. We’re not costing you money, YOU are costing you money because you have a blog set up on a domain and pay for hosting instead of having a FREE blog like most of the rest of the internet population. And you’d have to pay for that whether we comment on your blog or not. So, don’t delude yourself into thinking that we’re “costing” you anything.
Good luck in life and don’t worry, we won’t comment on your site anymore.
Professional marketers - pfft. What a joke. But I love the Liar, liar, pants on fire bit. Brilliant comeback!!
But my fave is the righteous indignation that my blog is at her disposal for her own gain. And then telling me how I should be running my own site. *insert eye rolling here*
But I am having fun with this so I sent her a reply. I probably rushed it a bit and is not as erudite a snark as perhaps Ms MJ could compose but here it is in any case.
You are right - I really don’t know that much about SEO businesses as I find them distasteful and a scourge on the internet.
I thought your email was hilarious and I laughed and sent it around to my friends - other bloggers.
The thing that is amazing to me, is that YOU came to MY blog - uninvited - and then you feel you have the right to use it for your own purposes. You forget that I have the right to allow or not allow whomever I like. It is MY blog. It is NOT fair trade as I didn’t ask for you to come and nor do I need any rankings of my own. I really don’t care how high my blog is on any rankings and I am not interested in a following.
If you were serious about just leaving comments that were relevant to the blog post on subjects that were of interest to you, then do so but don’t leave a link. I welcome comments from anybody but I reserve the right to remove any that I don’t like or try to use to promote their own commercial site.
People like me who have blogs for themselves and their friends and families feel that ANYBODY leaving links that gives commercial gain is a parasite. You are wasting your time trying to justify your ethics with me as you are all parasites - you are just as bad as spammers who clog up the internet with unsolicited mail and comments.
The purpose of my blog is to have a record of my life, what I have been doing, thinking, people that I meet. This is so I can share this with my family who live a long way from me. It is also a record so that my children can know me for the person I am/was when the post was written. This is NOT for profit. I have a real job, an honest job that earns me money. I don’t leach off other people and come to their internet site - uninvited - trying to use their space for my own gain.
I also write things that I feel may be of service to other normal people should they care to read or research for themselves. For example I posted about a scam involving real mail. It is a world wide scam trying to exploit people out of money and my post has alerted people that the mail they received is not genuine but a scam. Allowing spiders to crawl helps people not be fooled by this scam. Spiders are there to provide the world with a free source of information - not to add money to your company. You are using what is a free flow of ideas into a parasitic enterprise. This is distasteful and you should be ashamed of yourself.
RSS feeds are standard practice for people trying to keep their eyes on their favourite sites. I don’t post everyday so some of my friends use the RSS to alert them of a new post. Google analytics was just something fun I was trying out for myself. I DON’T have ad words but I was curious as to how people found my blog. But as it is my site I really don’t need to justify anything to you.
I just found it funny that you felt you had the right to do what you liked with a site that you don’t own and you got snippy with me for defending my right to do what I like with my property. I wonder how you sleep at night with such an unethical and immoral attitude.
I wonder what sort of reply I am going to get. Of course I will post it here should she reply again. I will not post her website as much as I would like to expose her but then that kind of defeats the purpose.
So this post explains that in a number of my older posts, comments have been turned off and a note as to why. This problem is getting worse and I am sure that it is putting off many legitimate bloggers from maintaining their blogs as cleaning up the spew from these spammers just takes up so much time. It really annoys me that we have to protect ourselves from these people and spend so much time and in many cases money for software to protect something that is our creation.
Yes this is now common sense, a bit like making sure your house is locked up when unattended, but at least a burgler knows he is doing something wrong rather than these spammers who feel it is their right to barge on in uninvited.
Taking this house analogy one step further, it is like when you build a house and plant a garden. You quite like this garden and enjoy watching it grow. You also quite like it when somebody drops around and says, “Hey nice garden!! Why don’t you drop over to my garden and we can swap gardening tips and perhaps some cuttings.”. But it is an entirely different matter when somebody drops around and says, “Hey nice garden. Come to my garden supply shop and buy stuff from me.”. Or worse, when they litter the street and your front fence with flyers and posters advertising their garden supply shop hoping to attract other people to their shop to buy stuff.
Personally I think all the spammers need to be given an internet of their own and let them market their spew to each other to their hearts content and leave the internet free and clear to the rest of us who are just not interested. But really, this comes down to all of us to make a stand and not tolerate these unwanted and unsolicited attacks. So I shall continue my one-goddess campaign - just because it makes me feel better - a bit like when I recycle or don’t take a plastic shopping bag.
I am doing my bit to clean up the environment - real and virtual.
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