A few weeks ago, I posted an article called, “How to Write an Email That Won’t Get Marked as Spam.” I was pleasantly surprised by the number of interesting comments I received! So today I want to discuss how to keep comments from winding up in spam.
When it comes to spam, email tends to be the most difficult to identify. Comments are usually easy, but every once in a while I get one that makes me pause. Here are the things people write that make me question whether or not they’re spam.
1. Asking a question
This is the biggest thing I see spam bots do. They ask, “Where did you get your theme? Did you design it yourself?” or “What platform are you using?” All innocent questions. All asked for the sole purpose of getting their comment approved. If you approve the comment and respond to it, other people will think their website is legit. They’ll click it. From there, all sorts of things could happen. Best case scenario, they get money from having clicks. Worse case scenario, it takes you to a porn site and you get a really nasty virus or something.
There have been times when it was really hard to tell if a comment was spam. Usually, I play it safe and delete the comment. Though there was one time where I REALLY wasn’t sure. The website had a weird URL (and no way was I clicking it), but the comment was really on the nose. So I approved the comment and removed the URL from the person’s name.
It turned out to be spam, by the way. But at least they didn’t have anything for my readers to click on.
What you can do: Don’t leave questions in a comment unless it has something to do with the post. If it’s not about the post you’re commenting on (meaning, if it’s about how I run my blog), please either email me or send me a message on Facebook. I’m more than happy to discuss it with you, I’d just rather not do it in the comments.
2. Being rude
Again, spammers will do whatever they can to get their comment approved. Sometimes, they play on emotions. They may say something mean about you or your blog, hoping you’ll approve the comment so you can yell at them.
Sometimes people do that, too.
I’ve gotten rude comments on my recipes before. The first couple times it happened, I thought it was a spam bot. But then someone came in saying the same thing, but they were polite about it. I realized then that the comments before that one were real. They were just coming from sociopaths, apparently.
What you can do: This is obvious. Be polite. Even if you have a criticism, there’s no reason to be rude about it. Rudeness gets marked as spam, always. Just because you disagree with someone, that does not mean you should be verbally abusive.
3. Including a link in your comment
I’ve written about this many times before, so I won’t waste my breath here. If you’d like to know more, please see my post on Why You Shouldn’t Add Links to Blog Comments.
What you can do: Just…not this. Don’t do this.
4. Being vague
This is another thing both spam bots and real bloggers do. If you just say something like, “Great post!” it could get you marked as a spammer. Most bloggers can tell when it’s coming from a spam bot or another blogger, but sometimes it’s difficult.
What you can do: Try to relate to a post in a certain way. Even if it’s obvious to the blogger that you’re a real person, it’s still not a good idea to just write, “Great post!” Then it makes you look like you’re just trying to get a trackback. Not that bloggers don’t appreciate positive feedback…. It’s just that doing it in such a vague manner raises some red flags for us. Help ease our paranoia by being more specific. 😛
5. Misspellings and poor grammar
No one expects you to be a master of the English language (well, OK, some people do…but screw those people). However, if you capitalize the first letter of every word, or you write in all caps, or you don’t know how to use punctuation, or your constantly misspell simple words…you look like a spam bot.
Even if someone realizes you’re a real person, no one will click through to your blog. By leaving comments people need to reread three times to understand, all you’re doing is advertising your poor writing skills and telling people, “This is what you can expect from my blog.” No one wants to read a blog they can’t understand.
What you can do: Read over your comment before hitting publish. We all make mistakes, it’s not a big deal. Just try to catch as many as you can. If you accidentally hit publish and then realize your comment makes no sense (I’ve done this), feel free to leave another one to clarify what you meant.
I realize some of these seem nit-picky, but I think we should all be more aware of what we’re saying and how we’re saying it. It can only improve our communication skills.
What do you think makes a comment look spammy? Do you have any commenting pet peeves?