Blog comment and comment moderation ethics

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: 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!


  1. Nagraj :

    yeah Ajith ……….even i find all your comments which u post on my blog ,always end in spam……… every time i had to despam …………;but still today also i had to retrieve from spam……..Thanks for this informative post……..and also for pointing out the RSS flaw on my blog post……….yeah i am not good at programming……….tried many times……..but could not get it right…….may be try again today to make it look better……..

    Nagraj’s last blog post…How can a trait be made in one gender and not the other?

  2. Chris :

    Thanks for these tips. I’ll be paying much more attention to where and when I comment now.

    I find on my blog that all the commments genuinely ARE spam – it drives me up the wall. But I’m wondering now, if I’m constantly getting spam comments will that lead to my blog being considered spam by Akismet?

    Chris’s last blog post…Splogs, Scrapers, and YOUR content

  3. Pras :

    Ajith, After reading your post I checked my Spam list & found two of your comments. I unmarked it from the spam list. Its better to quickly go through all the spams identified by Akismet before completely deleting them.

    Pras’s last blog post…Share your photos in an amazingly new way using Microsoft’s Photosynth

  4. Thanks Ajith! I was wondering why one of my friends’ comments were being blocked on my blog, so this post helped me solve the problem. Thanks for the help! : )

  5. @Nagraj, thanks for checking your spam folder to bail me out. And, not being a programmer is not all that bad a life. There are more exciting things around like your research job :)

    @Chris, you are not alone. The blogosphere is a Hippocratic setup whereby you have to not only write but need to market yourself and build backlinks for traffic and satisfying gods like Google, Technorati and Alexa. A big portion of the spam is originated out of this genuine need to survive.

    @Pras, please make sure that my comments are unspammed 😀 thanks a lot.

    @Mathew, yes…it’s imperative for bloggers/moderators to check the spam folders regularly and take due action. By doing so, you are not only retrieving valuable comments for your blog but sometimes saving a fellow blogger from being stamped a spammer as well.

    Thank you all for your views,


  6. Susan :

    I find using captcha to protect those innocently marked as spam by Askimet. At least I can double-check those comments.

    Susan’s last blog post…News Theme Pro

  7. @Susan, captcha is definitely an option to restrict spam on your blog. I was also talking about bloggers/moderators marking your comment as spam, by mistake or intentionally, which has a negative impact on your blog.

  8. Hi Ajith,

    As you know I’ve had to fish your comments out of my spam folder on numerous occasions. I’m happy to hear you got a fast repy from Akismet. It sounds like that may have corrected the problem.

    This list is great. I agree, we should not mark comments as spam if they’re not. We should just delete them (if we feel that’s necessary).

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post…Parties, Spam and Hanging Chads

  9. I know, Barbara, you have been kind and very prompt to de-spam me :) Not everybody is that proactive and the result, my comments are permanently in spam. The worst thing is that many of my comments are like essays themselves 😀 and the time spent on the same is wasted as well!

  10. Hussein | Random Blog :

    I just love commenting on blogs and this will really help us to be a better commenter. I do hate spams 😀

  11. Thanks for your visit and views Hussein. Even I love commenting on the 30 odd blogs that I read. However, I stay away from commenting on blogs that I don’t read (To be frank, I used to do that to build backlinks until a few months back :D)

  12. Ajith,

    You’ve thought out all the points about commenting very well. I really liked your point about “Be genuine”. This point automatically takes care of few other points you’ve mentioned. for e.g. if a commenter is genuine in leaving a comment, it will definitely not be a one liner.

    You told commenters not to leave one line comments and at the same time requested moderators, not to mark them as spam. You’ve done very good balancing act here. : – )

    Ramesh @ The Geek Stuff’s last blog post…Turbocharge PuTTY with 12 Powerful Add-Ons – Software for Geeks #3

  13. @Ramesh, thanks a lot for your views. In fact, when I said one-liner comments should not be marked as spam what I actually meant is that the moderator could delete but may not mark it as spam. :)


  14. Thanks for the link Hussein :)

  15. Anil :

    Hi Ajith, I work with the team at Six Apart that makes TypePad AntiSpam, which is free and open source and 100% compatible with the Akismet API. The great thing is, it works well with any kind of blog (including WordPress blogs), and has a lot fewer false positives, according to big sites like TechCrunch that have adopted it.

    For the sites you’ve been talking to (and your own!) it might be a great choice. You can check it out at

    Anil’s last blog post…About Anil Dash

  16. @Anil, Thanks for the info. I will definitely give it a try.


  17. I have also experienced the same situation in my beginning of blogging life.You made some best points on how to comment on others blog/website.
    Thanks for the tips.
    _Ankit @dohack


  1. […] Blindly marking others’ comment as spam: I have talked about blog commenting and moderation ethics in the past. There are many bloggers who sometimes blindly mark others comment as spam without […]

  2. […] some of those very short comments but not marking them as spam as it’s again not among my comment moderation ethics. So any of you happens to be at the receiving end, please understand. Another commonly found […]

  3. […] This is an area where I need to improve. Faster the moderation, better the response from commenters. If you are moderating comments only once in two or three days, the readers may hesitate to get engaged next time (Also read: blog comment moderation ethics) […]

Speak Your Mind