If you blog on your birth or postpartum website, you likely get spam comments appearing in your inbox from time to time. One arrived in my inbox this morning that I actually read twice just to be sure my spam hunch was correct. They aren't just about Viagra and Russian girlfriends anymore; in fact many seem to be picking up on primary keywords in my site such as "doula" and trying their best to pass as real comments. Here are some good examples of spam comments and clues to watch for to help you discern their true nature. I have highlighted in pink all of the elements in these that are problematic:
very calmly you will beerstfaed this baby . That gave me the confidence I needed to keep going. I had been attending local LLL meetings from my last trimester on and felt such support there that when my son was 2 I became a leader. It was great for me to feel like I had an outlet that help me feel productive but not be seperated from my son. 10 years later I'm watching my youngest go off to full day school and wondering now what? . I had always heard people say you should follow your passion but always thought my only passion was to be a mom. Then one day I read a book about figuring out what career you would like to to and the author said what would you do if money wasn't a factor, what would you do for nothing? I thought well, I've been helping mom beerstfaed their babies for years on a volunteer basis and it does make me feel good. An idea was born. So I started taking online classes while my kids where at school and just found out last week I am now an IBCLC. I'm not sure what my next step will be but I'm on a road that looks promising.
So... shall we approve, spam, or trash this comment?
My choice? Definitely SPAM. Here are the clues:
- Spelling errors >> An IBCLC spelling Breastfeed as Beerstfaed???
- Grammar errors >> Awkward sentence structure, random period, missing capital letter at the start)
- Nonsensical IP Address (ec2-52-36-176-116.us-west-2.compute.amazonaws.com)
- Random Email >> No name, usually numbers & letters
- Facebook address as their URL
- No Gravatar Photo >> While not all readers have this feature set up, the lack of a photo of your mystery writer is definitely something to be suspicious of.
- Overall Readability >> While the story in this comment is somewhat plausible, it is awkward and not entirely believable; especially the part about magically becoming an IBCLC with an online course.
- External Links >> While not evident in this example, you'll often see an external link to their spam site.
- Vague Commentary >> Some spammers go with a really neutral comment such as “Lovely website! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am taking your feeds also”, often with some blend of a compliment and a "helpful" suggestion or question about your blogging technique. The comment doesn’t include any real value, and doesn’t mention anything in detail to prove that they actually read your post.
- Intuition >> With most spam comments something just doesn't sit right. You simply have a hunch that it isn't quite right.