A Subtle Form Of Spam

It seems there's a new kind of spam around (though maybe not that new... I've been noticing it for a while now and just got around to posting about it). Normally we think of spam as junk email, or if you have a blog or a message forum, you might see an automated script that posts links to a site selling V1agR/\ or something similar, with no relationship to the rest of the discussion.

This new spam, though, is much more insidious, and if you read quickly you might completely miss it. Take this example, which was posted to my article Proper Loading of Toilet Paper, II:
yes it's a very interesting post, fist time i saw a blog post about Toilet Paper......:)  well, the proper use of Paper is required and you have done a good thing that you have included pictures for more clearance.  use our Hot Tubs.
As you can see, the content of the post is somewhat relevant to the article, and it sort of contributes something to the comment thread.

Upon closer inspection, it becomes obvious that this is spam. The link at the bottom is clearly the main point of the message, which is trying to drive up the search engine results of that web site. However, the rest of the message is very context specific to the main article, which leads me to conclude that this is not perpetrated by an automated script, but by a human who is probably getting paid to post messages like this.

Judging from the spelling and the slight misuse of words, one can assume that this person is probably not a native English speaker. You can then make the leap and conclude that there's probably a company in a low-wage country who contracts out services to do exactly this sort of thing. With people getting paid to do silly things like gold farming for online games, it's not hard to imagine that this could be the case.

I've also seen something similar on a few of the larger message board forums. Someone will go through every thread in a forum and post a reply to each one that simply restates what others have said. In this case, the suspicious links are included in the signature of the poster, which can be changed and immediately cause that link to appear on every post made by that user. The giveaway for this type of spam is that the time-stamps on the messages are often very close to one another. This could indicate that someone is methodically going through each post instead of thoughtfully reading and replying to each message.

With messages that are almost relevant to a post, what's a blogger to do? On one hand it's pretty clear that it's spam, but on the other the messages can often be more relevant to a topic than what a "real" reader might post. So what do you do here? Do you delete the whole message? Do you leave it there? How about editing it just to remove the spammy parts?

If it's not contributing to the post and you feel like it's just out there to get the link then by all means you should delete their link. Don't delete the whole thing because it contributes to the content of your site and that helps to move your site up in the Serps (search rankings).
I don't know if you know why they use a keyword for the link, it's because that's what you want to get ranked for in the serps.

Someone might want to use something like: Sarcoma Cancers

and they would rank for "sarcoma cancer" .....mmmm do you think this post contributes? LOL

Sounds like you might be one of the pros I'm talking about. You make some interesting points, and the terminology of "serps" sounds like some good info.

Your right, I am a pro, or trying to be, I do this for a living full time and own lot's of my own sites. SERPS = Search Engine Results Pages's

I think it's interesting. How did you get started doing this? I guess there must be some real money in it if you know what you are doing :) What country are you located in?

Peaple get paid to farm pretend gold? I thought those envelope stuffing scams were bad. The more I learn about the internet the less I know.

Yup, it's hard to believe. Just as hard to believe that people get paid to post fake comments with spam links to blogs.

Don't delete the whole thing because it contributes to the content of your site and that helps to move your site up in the Serps.

it's not a spam unless posted by an automated software i think, the comment you showed adds some value, so it is not a matter of concern if he adds one link to his site.

That may be how you justify it to yourself, but you are wrong. Comments that do not add any genuine value to a discussion, or are only there to provide an excuse to include a link, are indeed spam.

The fact that there is a person is getting paid to make the spam look more relevant than what an automated tool can do is totally irrelevant.

Thanks for the other 4 spam messages you posted as well.