OR, blog spamming, whatever you call it! ;)
Now, I would be honest with ya: this post is going to hurt some of those "sensitive people", so unless you think you can swallow and digest the bitter truth, please don’t read it. :D
For many a times, when you might think that you have left a really nice comment on a blog, the blogger may actually think that it is spam and mark you as such. Now don’t ask me why they would do so: some bloggers are total morons, and they simply ruin it all for the rest of the community. Some possible causes of why a blogger may think your comment to be spam are:
Greater spam flags: By all means, avoid doing the following (or end up on the Akismet blacklist):
a) Leaving a link in the body of your comment: Sometimes there are links that add value to a blog post, and then there are other times when the link happens to be a pure advertisement. Some bloggers know how to distinguish between the two, but some others simply HATE third-party links in comments. ;)
b) Using a company name, keyword or domain name as YOUR name: That is really a very bad practice IMO because it throws some good light on the type of person you are/the type of business you represent. When commenting on a blog, you need to be REAL! I am not asking you to use your real name all the time. You can use a pen name if you like but for God’s sake, don’t use SEO-ed names (UNLESS the blogger specifically invites you to do so, such as, by using the KeywordLuv plugin – in this connection, you may also want to read the new nofollow policy of the plugin author). On one hand, it offers you very little SEO benefits-I am yet to be proven otherwise; on the other hand, a lot of bloggers hate SEO-ed names (yes, even IM bloggers too) and would either delete your comment or flag it as spam.
I have often asked some of the regular commenters here to use their real names instead of using a keyword-rich "name", and most of them do heed my advice! Now, don’t get me wrong; I would approve any comment that is useful, regardless of what name you use! But if you think on a bigger level => I am not the only blogger in cyberspace, and as I have already said, a lot of bloggers simply frown upon SEO-ed names (some even categorically ask commenters not to use keywords as names, while others ask the commenters to use the KeywordLuv format).
c) Leaving irrelevant comments: Some people don’t really read the whole blog post before commenting, while others are just too lazy to type a new comment for every blog and would rather just copy-and-paste the same comment they are posted in a previous blog. Yet others simply comment for the purpose of getting a dofollow backlink.
d) Being a true a**hole spammer: Now, apart from the obvious spammers, this also indicates that special group of people who leave one-liner comments on blogs like:
"Thank you. Nice post. Will be back soon for more"
They either do so because they are just too lazy to read the full blog post (or at the very least read some of the previous comments to the post) before commenting, or are running short of time because they need to comment on 100 more blogs before they can go to bed (the motto of these people is usually "I have to comment on an x number of blogs today, by hook or by crook, so that I can get an x number of backlinks from Google™" rather than "Let me read these blogs and see if I can find something useful there").
As a matter of fact, a lot of bloggers simply frown upon such one-liner comments. Why? Not only such comments add no value to the blog, but also this is a well-known tactic often used by "SEO spammers" to get a linkback to their sites (which often happens to be a MFA site). So yeah, unless you have nothing of value to add, don’t comment. ;)
Lesser Spam Flags: Usually, the majority of the bloggers ignore such things, but there are some who are very particular about which type of comment gets approved on their blog:
a) Leaving a link in the URL field of the comment form: You would think that is pretty legit, and so do I, but obviously some bloggers beg to differ (especially, the bloggers in niche markets to whom ANY LINK, commercial or not, is spam unless your site is thematically related to theirs, and even that part is doubtful, because if you happen to be their direct competitor, count on your luck to be NOT flagged as a spammer)!
b) Imperfect Language: Unless you are a native English speaker, chances are that you cannot speak "perfect English" (for example, I am not a native English speaker and that fact clearly shows in my long boring articles :P ). If you are just "good enough", you will pass, but there are some people who write terribly poor English. Believe it or not, imperfect language could also get your comment being deleted or worse, flagged as spam, especially if the blogger happens to be a prude! ;)
So, if you have not already, it is a good time to hone up your language a bit, if only for the sake of getting your comments approved! ;)
Back to the original topic: Akismet is built in such a way that you are virtually at the mercy of the blogger’s whims and fancies. Bottom-line, if a blogger thinks that your comment is spam, he would mark it as such, a few more such flags from him and other bloggers and your business would virtually end. Here is how (more details can be found here):
-Your email would be added to the Akismet Blacklist
-Your website URL would also end up in the Akismet blacklist.
Now, a lot of people say that Akismet actually uses a combination of different factors, such as the commenter’s name, email, URL, etc., for determining whether a comment is spam or not. I would give you a few examples of how I have seen Akismet work in real life:
Scenario 1– blacklisted email+ Non-blacklisted URL=>comment flagged as spam
Scenario 2– Non-blacklisted email+blacklisted URL=>comment marked as spam
Scenario 3– blacklisted email+blacklisted URL=>comment marked as spam
I don’t think the commenter’s name triggers Akismet’s filters as much as the commenter’s URL or email. :)
Now, how do you know that you have been blacklisted by Akismet?
a) You click here to post a nice comment on my blog (you can also conduct this experiment on your own blog, provided of course that you have Akismet™ installed).
b) If you get a blank white page (instead of something along the lines of: "Your comment is under moderation" message) then your comment is surely in the spam queue! Assuming that you have not added any vi*gra-type of word, or lots of links in the comment body, the only safe conclusion could be that either your email or URL is on Akismet’s blacklist! :D
So, what can you do about it:
a) You can choose to comment only on those blogs that are thematically-related to your website (and hope that your chosen niche has enough high pagerank™ bloggers to help your website rank high in Google :P ).
b) When commenting, you can link only to non-commercial pages of your website.
c) You can use a real name instead of a keyword or company name (UNLESS the blogger explicitly permits the use of keywords as names)
d) You can avoid leaving commercial links in the body of comments
e) You can keep changing your email address regularly
You can do all of the above and still have your website blacklisted by Akismet, so here is a sixth thing you can do:
f) Go to Akismet’s site and beg of them to release your website from the clutches of their blacklist because you are totally legit, blah blah blah., and hope that they actually respond to your request (although I have not tried this route, I would say from experience that their chances of doing this is as
much as that of Google’s un-banning your website). ;) Before you ask me, I have not tried this option because I don’t like the idea of begging-or worse, begging to fascists (for lack of a better term)! :P
Of course, I still love Akismet for how it protects me from spammers and as such, I consider it an indispensable tool for any WordPress blog, so much so that I (or for that matter, several other bloggers too, I am sure) would (even if grudgingly) pay Automattic to avail themselves of this service, if some day it really ceases to be free. :D
Okay, let me tell you of some of the other "preventive measures" you can take so as to keep your website from getting into Akismet’s blacklist.
g) You can avoid buying lists of "high PR blogs": Almost always those "high PR blogs" would be on "high alert" (being "spammed enough" already) and rather aggressive in flagging comments, even the legit ones, as spam! If you don’t believe me, learn it the hard way. :P
h) Contact the blogger: If you know the blogger personally, just tell them that you recently posted a nice comment on a certain article but it seems that the comment might be in their spam queue. If they care about you/your comment, they would look into the spam queue and retrieve your comment from there; if they don’t, they you can safely assume that either they don’t care about you, or that your comment has been arbitrarily deleted by Akismet instead of being sent to the spam/moderation queue (this happens if the blogger has the "Automatically discard spam comments on posts older than a month" option enabled under "Akismet Configuration"). In either situation, there is not much you can do! :P
i) Choose the right outsourcer: Even if you are not a spammer, your website can still end up on Akismet’s backlist if the person you have outsourced blog commenting to spams other blogs. Generally, don’t outsource to those who charge too low for comments (you get what you pay for), and avoid hiring blog commenters from the countries that are known hubs of spammers (now, I am not listing any country here for obvious reasons, but a quick Google search should give you the names of those countries anyways).
j) Categorically avoid WordPress blogs: As far as I can tell, Akismet is most widely used in WordPress blogs, the second biggest user (probably) being Punbb. Thankfully, not all Punbb forum owners use Akismet, but if you get an error message like "This post has been marked as spam and deleted by Akismet" you know that your website(s) is really on Akismet’s blacklist! ;)
How to recognize a WordPress blog: Well, on a WordPress blog, when you click on the "Submit Comment" button of a comment form without actually filling up the form fields, you should see an error page. The page’s title would be like:
And the page URL would be something like:
Where domainname.com is the blog’s domain name.
Hey, but please don’t avoid commenting on my blog okay, even though it runs on WordPress+Akismet (this is because I try my best to rescue all legit comments from the spam queue :P )!
k) And of course, don’t be a spammer! (but that was obvious, was not it?) ;)
Could Akismet Be Better?
You have to think that just like any software, Akismet cannot think and act like humans; as such, it is bound to have flaws. Basically, from the little I know, a software can work on three types of algorithm:
a) An arbitrary algorithm (where the primary algorithm is first created arbitrarily by the software developer, then enhanced, again arbitrarily, based on user feedback)
b) A user-based algorithm (where the primary algorithm is created based on the inputs by a group of users)
c) A combination of (a) and (b)
Presently I think Akismet relies too heavily on user-based algorithm; as such, blog commenters are subjected to the bloggers’ whims and fancies. If a couple of bloggers think that a certain commenter is a spammer, all the other bloggers are also forced to think so. I believe it could do better by relying less on user-based feedback and creating its own arbitrary system of spam-terminator (based on DNS blacklists, RBL, stopforumspam.com database, etc.-but NOT spamcop-we all know how flawed it is) , then deciding on which type of user-feedback to consider when upgrading the software.
The reason why Google™ is Google is because much of its algorithm is arbitrary! Imagine what would happen if its search algorithm was dictated by the searchers? There would be utter chaos!
(Note to self: This is why I prefer forum spamming over blog spamming; at least that way it is only my email address and not the website too which ends on a blacklist :P => just kidding of course, but don’t forget that just as there is Akismet for blogs, there is also the Stopforumspam.com blacklist for forums; there are also several anti-spam plugins of WordPress which actually retrieve the spam data from stopforumspam.com database and use it – this means that if someone spams forums and then uses the same email to spam blogs as well, they have a 99% chance of being flagged as spammers!)