Spot Clever Blog Spam

Blogging 101: How to Spot Clever Spam Comments

Spot Clever Blog Spam

Many times I refrained from comment on some blogs because I noticed spam comments approved and even replied. I don’t want the search engines bots to find my links in such environment.

Most blog spam attempts are pretty unlikely to fool anyone.

However do you know how to spot the smart spam that is submitted manually? Many bloggers fail to spot it.

GASP is useless for manual spam. Akismet works pretty well for lame spam attempts. But it’s far from being perfect; sometimes it flags legit comments, other times it doesn’t flag spam comments. When it comes to clever spam, Akismet is quite useless too.

What to do? Let’s start with the beginning…

An Example of Clever Blog Spam

Blog Spam Comment Example

Note 4 characteristics of a clever spam comment:

1. It includes the name of a person, not the name of a business or some keywords.

2. It tries to prove that the commenter is a serious blogger. He didn’t throw there 2 or 3 words. He spent some of his precious time (yeah, sure!) and submitted an elaborated text, not the usual “Great post!”.

3. It uses a simple and effective psychological tactic: it tells how great you and your content are.

4 In order not to be clearly off-topic, it’s vague. The comment from the example above can be posted under almost any article from any niche. Basically it can be posted on any blog.

You may wonder… “Well, nice! However, how do I know for sure that I don’t make a mistake and I delete a legit comment?”

The Unfailable Test for Blog Spam Detection

Copy the last words from a sentence and the first words from the very next sentence.

What’s the point? You won’t find two persons who use exactly the same words, in the same order, in two consecutive sentences. Therefore… If you copy enough words – 3 or 4 for the first sentence and the same for the next one – then you’re not supposed to find anywhere that exact wording.

Let’s search on Google and see the results. In order to search for that exact wording, use inverted commas.

Google Search Result for a Blog Spam Comment

Now you got the proof… 2,800 results for that exact wording. Definitely spam!

To Your Blogging Success!
Adrian Jock

P.S. Bonus: Want a good laugh? Read this real comment below and my reply to it. That’s a good addition to this blog post :-)

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39 thoughts on “Blogging 101: How to Spot Clever Spam Comments

  1. Hi Adrian,

    I’ve noticed that spam comments in the most cases are too general. Those types of comments have nothing in common with the topic of the post.

    Also almost every spam comment doesn’t include the name of the author of the post. It can be a very strong signal for detecting spam.

    Thanks for the tips and have a nice day, Adrian! :)

  2. Hi Branko,

    Thank you for your comment. Very rarely I’ve seen spam comments that are somehow on-topic. However they were unrelated to my blog post :) By doing a search on Google I found out that they were paragraphs copied from articles having exactly the same topic as my articles LOL

  3. Great advice Adrian. I’ve often wondered why so many blog owners miss this spammers trick – really it isn’t too difficult to spot a real comment from a spammy response…. by the way, i found this article really interested me and your theme is very nice too… my cousin told me about this website and i bookmarked it so i can come back again and check out your CENSORED WORD (oops!)… :-)

  4. ROFL, Neil. I edited one word from your comment. I don’t want that type of spammy word posted on my blog :-) BTW, your comment was “Pending”, Akismet didn’t notice anything wrong :)

  5. I’ve seen a little bit of this starting to appear on my blog. Thanks for the heads up. I have a stupid question. Why do spammers hit blogs? I’m kind of new to this, but what is in it for them?

  6. Hi Amy,

    Thanks for stopping by :)

    What’s in it for the spammers? Well, they’re looking for traffic and backlinks to their own blogs/websites. Once a blogger approves such spam comment, the visitors of that blog can click spammer’s link.

  7. Hi Adrian,

    Thanks for pointing this out. Even the so called Akismet plugin rarely detects this spammy comment.

    It’s so pathetic to see some respected blogs approving such comments.

    My strategy is to simply watch out if the person mentions my name and to check whether the comment is related to the content of the post.

  8. Hi Dare,

    Thank you for your comment. The fact that someone mentions your name isn’t quite a good proof. After all, we’re talking about manual spam, so that spammer can check your name, can’t she/he? But the truth is that most of them don’t bother to check and use your first name :-)

  9. Hello Adrian,
    This is definitely true. With technology and a little trick with WordPress, I got rid of the direct spams but these manual spams are still there who keep creeping in once in a while.

    I had an awakening a few months ago and since then, I don’t approve anyone whose comments are vague even though it might have come from a genuine person because if it doesn’t talk about what I wrote, it is not worth keeping. I don’t think I’ve any spam comments still living on my site :-)

    But this is definitely a great idea to take help of Google in spotting spammers. I liked the creativity involved in thinking it through! Great job!


  10. Hi Kumar,

    Thank you for your comment and retweet. Not approving vague comments is a good decision. In the past I approved a few such comments but they were submitted by bloggers I knew :) For the rest of them, trash is the place they belong to.

  11. Hahaha! A clever spam comment indeed!

    I take critical look at comments without gravatars. One particular post of mine is continually receiving spam comments that I had to delete it.

    Spammers are now really working smart. Hhahaha!

  12. Hi Emmanuel,

    Thank you for your comment. Getting a gravatar account is easy as 1-2-3 and every spammer who is a little bit smarter than the others should get such account. I hope they don’t read this paragraph :-) Anyway, the point is that you should check carefully every comment, not only the comments submitted by “faceless” commenters.

  13. Hi Adrian,

    As I saw your opening line, I can’t help it, my mind went temporarily in a different direction…”Many times I refrained from comment on some blogs because I noticed…” that the person claiming to be an expert is far from it, and it would be a waste of my time to add value there.

    Okay, with that side spin out of the way, I have also received cleverly disguised comments almost as shown. However, my litmus test is this: If the person did not contribute anything to the conversation thread that adds value to other people on that blog post by relating their experience, sharing some struggle or some pain that others can avoid, that sort of thing, I will dismiss it.

    After all, what better value to offer your readership than the shared experiences of people in your niche who want to be there.

    Kind Regards,

  14. Hi Bill,

    Thank you LOL. Hmm… Yep… Well…

    1st para: in similar cases I try to memorize the name of the blogger and/or the address of the blog. You know why I do that, don’t you? :)

    2nd para: I think that it’s the most powerful way to control spam. I don’t have any problem if someone has such policy in place, I can handle it :-)

    But I’m not sure that I’ll use it. I mean… well, some readers are shy, newbies or they lack good command of English. If I’m sure that they aren’t spammers and I can understand their comment :) then I approve it. Even if it doesn’t add too much value to the blog itself or to the conversation.

    Why I do that? We don’t have to forget that here I’m the host. Do I welcome here only experts, geniuses, native English speakers? Nope. Anyone is welcome here (except spammers). For various reasons, some people may not be able to add value yet. I’m their host too and I’m not going to silently tell them to stay away :)

  15. Hey Adrian,
    Nice post mate.
    Spam comments are seriously a pain in the ***!
    And nowadays the plugins that were meant to block spam comments, like GASP and CommentLuv are also not doing their work properly. I am dealing with 100s of spam comments on all my blogs from the past month or so.
    Can’t figure a way out of this mess!

  16. Hi Arbaz,

    Thank you for your comment. I assume that you don’t get 100s of manual spam comments, do you? Try to solve the issue by modifying your htaccess file. Google “block blog spam htaccess” and you’ll find some tips ;-)

  17. Hi Adrian,

    Your reply to para 1… Yes, I understand why you do :)

    Para 2… I need to clarify. Of course I welcome comments. I did not mean to infer otherwise. In relation to “cleverly disguised spam comments”, I want to ensure that they have something to contribute to my readership, rather than just letting their comments in that don’t add value to the thread.

    I also thank you for your wisdom in this. :D

    For Arbaz… You may try renaming the fields in your wp-comments. php file. I suggested it to my friend Kumar (in the comments here) and it is working great for him.

    Have a great weekend!

  18. Hi Adrian,

    Ugh, I am so fed up with spam at the moment! I’ve recently started getting more of it. I use Akismet and it manages to sort most of the spam comments into the spam folder, however, I always have to go through them as sometimes completely legit comments end up in there too. And sometimes indeed these clever spam comments end up not being flagged as spam.

    I don’t approve these types of vague comments at all as chances are that they’re spam. Thanks for sharing your tip on how to double check if you’re unsure of the comment.

    Have a great weekend!


  19. Hi Laura,

    Thank you for your comment. The better you are, the more traffic but in the same time the more spam. Get used with it. It’s the price we have to pay. The spammers don’t target the blogs without traffic :-)

    Have a great weekend too!

  20. Hello Adrian Jock,

    Well in simple spammers are using some kind of automatic tools to post comments on thousands of blogs. So we can easily spot those clever spam comment. Aksimet is great option to stop those comments but sometimes genuine comments are also flagged as span comments.

    The mentioned tips are really helpful.


  21. Wow, amazing comment, Singh. Thank you very much…

    Nah, just kidding. You don’t really understand English, do you? Or maybe you understand English but you’re testing me… Is that so?

    Anyway… Usually I don’t approve meaningless comments but somehow this comment is appropriate on this page LOL That’s why I have approved it. But the links were removed, sorry to disappoint you.

    Oh, BTW, Indian name, Indian IP but the guy from the picture doesn’t look like an Indian, does it? That it’s not your picture, or is it? ;-) Google says that the person from your picture is “Glenn McCuen – an American actor, model and gymnast, best known for his supporting role as Bodie in the 2010 family film Marmaduke”. Google’s wrong, isn’t it? ROFL


    P.S. Don’t bother to change the pic from Gravatar and then to tell me that I’m wrong. I’ve got a screen capture for your original comment + picture. Here it is…

  22. Hey Adrian,

    I had to come check out your post as I have been dealing with spam comments.

    What you said about some people submitting comments that look like they would be genuine can make it difficult to tell if they are actually legitimate or not.

    The next time I get a comment on my blog that I’m unsure of, I will definitely try your trick of placing it in Google.

    Thanks for these heads up and I hope you have a great day.

  23. Hi Susan,

    Thank you for your comment. Try that trick, it never failed :) And don’t forget to use inverted commas, otherwise you may get also irrelevant results.

  24. I was going to say, what was already mentioned, that most spam comments are placed by software, it’s not even a human visiting the site.

    I’ve been using the Spam Free WordPress plug-in and it seems to be working real well for me. Least for now. Just another option I thought I’d mention.

    Good tip on verifying the spammers though :)

  25. Hi Ron,

    Thanks for stopping by. This article is about “how to spot the smart spam that is submitted MANUALLY”. I doubt that the WordPress plugin you mentioned is able to detect the manual spam ;-)

  26. Update: Here’s another example of clever spam:

    This is another type of smart spam. It doesn’t tell anymore how great you are, but it warns you that you’ve got a problem. In this very example, a plugin doesn’t work properly and it sends “4 emails with the same comment”. That’s quite smart indeed.

  27. Generic comments that are applicable for all sort of blogs are spam comments.
    They are usually posted via bots. CommentLuv does a great job. If a comment is posted via a bot, then it does not include link luv.
    Thanks for sharing.

  28. Hi Akshay,

    Thank you for your comment regarding the bots. I guess you missed the fact that the topic of this article is “how to spot the smart spam that is submitted manually“.

    As for CommentLuv, yeah, it’s a great plugin but it’s useless when it comes to smart spam.

  29. Thanks Adrian, some of those folks can get really clever and it’s hard to know if they are spam or not, I think my new rule will be – “if unsure, spam them!”
    Thanks for pointing one out to me on my own blog, sometimes we can be too nice and it only hurts us in the long run.
    I do appreciate it! Have a great new week ahead Adrian.

  30. You’re welcome, Lisa. That’s not a bad rule. I guess you’ll become unsure in the case the comment isn’t related to your article. In such a case, it doesn’t matter too much whether that comment is spam or not. It’s still worthless. So you should move it to Trash or Spam anyway.

    A great week to you too, Lisa!

  31. Hi Adrian

    That’s a great tip thanks that I’ll remember to use when in doubt.

    I’ve passed that stage of being thrilled someone actually found my blog and flattered they found it an “awesome post”, but like Lisa I have tended to be “too nice” and given people the benefit of the doubt.

    I’m getting tougher as I learn more.

    A funny “manual spam” once pointed out by Enstine Muki on his own blog was when a spammer just copy/pasted an original commenter’s sensible and relevant comment and pasted it as his own comment!

    Just LOVED your response to Singh – made my (blogging) day.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend Joy

  32. Hi Joy, thank you for your comment. I guess Singh’s comment was the only spam comment I ever liked. It was quite appropriate and it came right on time! LOL

  33. Hey Adrian,
    This post is almost 2 years right? But I tell you the material is still fresh as these lame spammers still continue to use the same lame method.

    I’m quick at identify such generic spam comments

    As a matter of fact, if a comment does not directly relate to the content, I don’t think twice. I take quick action to push it to spam ;)

    Hey buddy, though I’m late here, I’m glad I was never absent

  34. Hmmm… The use of Google to spot “smart spam” suggests a way that you might be able to automate that check.

    However, I have noticed lately that Google no longer does an exact-match search, which would make that a lot less reliable (potentially large numbers of false positives).

    So far, on my sites, I either don’t allow comments at all, or I have so few that it isn’t a problem to manually moderate them.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Howard.

      I have noticed lately that Google no longer does an exact-match search, which would make that a lot less reliable (potentially large numbers of false positives)

      Are you sure? Maybe you didn’t use inverted commas ;)

      Test 1: I searched for the wording shown in the picture from the sub-headline “The Unfailable Test for Blog Spam Detection” – Great result. No false positive.

      Test 2: I searched for “years right? But I tell you the material” – this is taken from Enstine’s comment (above yours) – Result: only one result, Enstine’s comment on this blog post.

      Test 3: I searched for “don’t allow comments at all, or I have so few” – this is taken from your comment – Result:

      No results found for “don’t allow comments at all, or I have so few”.
      Results for dont allow comments at all, or I have so few (without quotes)

      So… the method described in the article still works fine ;-)

  35. Hi Adrian,

    Oh dear – I’m back reading about blocking spam comments because I still haven’t found a good solution.

    I’m much better at spotting manual spam than I was when I first commented here, but it’s such a waste of time trying and dismissing different plugins. I guess the ones that are getting through now are mainly manual spam.

    Is there a spam blocker you recommend, please? Or am I just resigned to detective work?
    Joy – Blogging After Dark

    1. Hi Joy. Here’s what I recommend: stop trying different plugins. That’s yet another waste of time. I use Akismet and Gasp for bots, and these two plugins are pretty good. For manual spam, I use my experience and Google. Do the same!

      Recently I tried WpBruiser because of some recommendations that I read online. Big waste of time. Not bad from tech point of view, but very bad from usability point of view. I even asked the developer if he’s a blogger. He confirmed that he’s not. That plugin has also a paid version. I wouldn’t use the paid version even if someone pays me to use it! ;)

      I don’t think that you’ll find a plugin that detects both automatic and manual spam. But even if such a plugin is developed, it cannot be a good one. That’s because to detect the manual spam, the plugin will need to connect to a third party database (like a search engine database) and that action will slow your blog. You lose more than you gain.

      1. Thanks Adrian,

        Well time-wasting is what I have been doing. My latest experiment has also ended in failure.

        SO…. back to the tried and tested Akismet and GASP as you suggest.

        As the years have passed I have become more experienced at spotting spam and less needy – feeling that any comment must be good. I know now that rubbish comments are worse than nothing!

        Thanks for your help,

        Joy – Blogging After Dark

  36. Thanks Adrian.

    There’s nothing I hate like spam comments. Even without any digital tool I have a knack for sensing and deleting spam comments. No matter how praising the comment is, if it sounds spamming, I delete it.

    To know if a comment is spam, I click on Edit to check the URL, email and name of the commenter. If it does not sound human, I delete it.

    However, I will still employ this strategy you taught me here. I have never thought of it before.

    Bloggers need to be careful who their blog is linking to. Some can lead to bad seo.

    Emenike Emmanuel

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