Annals of Comment Spam

A few days back, I tweeted an amusing bit of comment spam I’d received that morning:

But there’s amusing comment spam and then there’s amusing comment spam. I’m not going to reproduce it here, but yesterday I received a comment that could conceivably have slipped past me, had Akismet not caught it. The comment was left on a recent travel-related post, and it related a travel anecdote, asking for advice on how to handle a somewhat bemusing interpersonal issue. And while my post seemed a strange place to ask that particular question, the story was well-enough written, and the concern seemingly sincere enough, that I might have let it get through. Akismet, however, flagged the address that the commenter left in the URL field, and so into the filter it went.

I find myself both relieved and troubled. While it would be great to get fewer comments telling me how helpful and brilliant and pretty and useful my blog posts are (or alternately that I should really work a bit harder on them), those are quite easily spotted and dispatched. If spammers start actually taking the time to ask substantive questions and post them in plausible places, will it become increasingly difficult to recognize spam when we see it?

It occurs to me that in fact I probably wouldn’t have missed the spammish nature of this particular comment, precisely because I didn’t recognize its author — even if I had been taken in by the tale, I wouldn’t have been ready to engage with the teller. Something in that leaves me both relieved and dissatisfied. On the one hand, I’m glad that relationships and the communities they create can help us weed out bad actors in networked spaces. On the other hand, if we find ourselves in a situation in which we close folks whom we don’t (yet) know out of our conversations, how can those communities continue to develop?


  1. About 6 months ago an acquaintance started a new blog (“professional” one) & I checked it out. She had been replying to all the pseudo-flattering comments. I didn’t have the heart to tell her they were spam, but I did mention Akismet.

    It is a bit of a dilemma w/ this type of masquerade. If they actually take the time as you are saying, to pose plausible questions, is it really even spam any more in one sense? Luckily Akismet and others exist.

  2. Now I’m going to sound like a spammer … I came across your blog and love it. I recently posted a blog about planned obsolescence as well as it pertains to sustainability. It’s not ground breaking but the conversation needs to be amplified. I look forward to reading more here and I”ll get crackin’ on reading your book this weekend.

  3. Another One Bites the Dust; or Why I’m a Marketing Pro Advocating for Less Social Media

    This is why I am not a great advocate of social media. I sincerely attempted to engage in a real conversation and in fact, did spent a few hours reading this blog and your other writings several months ago. I even shared your information with a few colleagues and my niece who is a librarian for a state university.

    As background, I have a small marketing firm and so on occasion researching and understanding my firm’s SERP results and key word ratings is relatively important.

    So, tonight with dread, I found that my “brand”, rather name, is bolded under the search engine result entitled: “Annals of Comment Spam”. Great! Thanks a lot. I say blogging is planned to become obsolete. There is just too much risk involved. Unlike Vegas, what happens on Google, is indelible, good, bad or misunderstood. The good actors will gradually stay away leaving bloggers with nothing more than their original, small, trusted, real-world community alongside the next generation of super spammers. Have at it and good luck — Best — Mary

    1. Wait, what? You left a comment on a post entitled “Annals of Comment Spam,” and are now dismayed to discover that your name comes up in connection with that term? And social media is to blame for this? I am clearly missing something here — or someone is, in any case.

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