Of late, all my replies to comments in my own blog have been getting caught by Akismet spam protector. A few good blogger friends alerted me that whatever comments I post on their blogs are getting caught by the spam protection as well. Out of frustration, I contacted the Akismet support and the following was their reply:
DollarShower.com was marked as spam – bloggers had marked comments as that. It is removed from akismet for now but I would advise some care in commenting. – Mark
Firstly, a big thanks to akismet support team for having replied to my query so fast. Not many free services providers reply to their customers’ queries and hence this one definitely needs to be appreciated. Next, let me spend some time to dig into what he meant and what I have been doing as a commentator as well as moderator. Hopefully I can summarize my findings as a bunch of best practices towards the end of this post.
Who does comment?
According to me, out of all comments that you get to see, on even the most popular blog on earth, only a small percentage is genuine! Now, there could be exceptions but this has been my experience with the blogs that I read. I do not mean to hurt anybody here and you could comment on this if you think otherwise.
From my experience, most of the genuine comments are originated from readers that are non-bloggers themselves. This does not mean that bloggers are not genuinely commenting but what I really meant that, when a reader is actually your customer and (s)he really benefited from you wrote a genuine comment is born!
The other categories of people who comment are bloggers, advertisers and real spammers. A blogger who genuinely get inspired and/or benefit from fellow bloggers posts and services become genuine commentator but (s)he becomes an advertiser or spammer otherwise! There’s only a subtle difference between a spammer and advertiser. For me, not all spammers are advertisers and not all advertisements are spams etiher!
Now, a spam protection system like akismet (or even WordPress platform built-in features) can identify spam by the nature of the comment or by learning from what have been marked by bloggers or moderators as spam or not-spam. In my case, the support person, Mark, was hinting at somebody purposely marking my comment as spam!
Commenting tips for bloggers
So how can a blogger protect his name, blog and brand in the blogosphere by sticking to basic commenting ethics? The points below are what I have learned although I did not get the ‘spammer’ tag for creating spasm intentionally.
- Be careful while commenting on big blogs: I am talking about those blogs with 25 or 50 thousand readers a day! Chances of your comments getting marked as spam is very high with these blogs as they don’t even have the patience to read through all your comments before pressing the spam button. Also, your fate lies with their assistants or moderators as well!
- Be genuine and to the point: If you don’t see a need to comment, don’t do so. In other words, your comment should add value to the blogger and other readers as well. At times you want to convey to your blogger friend that you have visited his/her site recently and hence there’s nothing wrong in saying a short ‘Hi’ alone. But the off-topic things do not work with all those blogs that you visit!
- Appropriate usage of dofollow and commentluv blogs: The need to create backlinks forces some bloggers to comment more often on certain blogs with the above features enabled! Remember the last point before you post there! Misuse of ‘commentluv’ or posting too often on ‘do follow’ blogs can attract the penalty of being stamped as a ‘spammer’ and sometimes there is no escape from that!
- Avoid short or one-liner comments: Nobody likes comments like ‘Great post, thanks’ or ‘I like your writing style’ kind of stock statements. Even if you comment so, explain why
- Always use your name: Use your name in the comment ‘name’ field and in addition, if absolutely necessary, you could append your blog’s name there. But never ever use your tag line or ad string (such as ‘Make money online’, ‘AdSense secrets revealed’ etc) in the name field.
- Avoid posting URLs within the comment text: As much as possible avoid posting URLs in the comment post. You could use the URL field for the URL (such as RSS subscription link, your latest post etc) that you want to promote but not the comment text field unless it is absolutely necessary
- Finally, you may contact akismet if your comments are marked as spam by mistake or intentionally by somebody. Try to remember the last few places you commented and stay away from the most suspicious blogs if you ended up becoming a spammer via those routes!
Tips for moderators
Most moderators are bloggers themselves they have been hired as moderators. The following are some of the things that the moderators need to remember before approving or disapproving a comment!
- Never mark a comment as spam before actually reading the entire content (if it does not look like ‘easily recognizable’ spam.
- If the content is not actually spam, but something that offends you as a author (or something that challenges you), do not mark it as spam by getting carried away. Instead, delete that comment! Delete only if it is absolutely necessary. There is nothing wrong in approving negative comments or criticism.
- Check your spam folders regularly as once in a while even genuine comments get caught in the spam folder. If you recover a comment that was wrongly marked as spam make sure to ‘de-spam’ it so that akismet system can learn from your action
- One line comments may be irritating but it’s not good to mark them as spasm as the fate of the blogger may be in your hands!
- If your blog has commentluv enabled, be sure to visit the link once before approving the comment. If you feel that the linked post does not add any value, you may as well remove that link before approving
I hope this post was useful to some of you. Please let me know your experiences, as a blogger, on commenting or moderation related issues.
Have a great week ahead!