Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My policy on link spam in comments on my blog

More and more often I receive emails to moderate 'link spam', in other words links embedded in a comment on my blog that are primarily or solely intended for 'search engine optimization'.

The comments often say something like 'Great blog, good points'. Sometimes they are actually well-thought-out comments on the material in the post, and are attached to a relevant post. However I do not accept comments with links unless the comment and all the links meet the following criteria:

  1. The text on which the link is placed makes it clear to the reader of the link where it points, e.g. your company, your product, yourself or an informational site.
  2. The comment itself says something relevant, and is not there for the sole purpose of exposing the link.
  3. I believe that the linked page has relevant information (or a product or service) that matches the subject of my blog post and adds value to the post. The information does not have to agree with what I have said; in fact I welcome argument and contradiction.
  4. If the comment mentions a product, service or company then what is being marketed is something that I am not morally opposed to and think readers of the post could potentially benefit from (although I would not ever endorse or even verify products or services in links).
  5. The poster uses a verifiable identity. They must give their email, some other legitimate means of contacting them, or else the linked page or site needs to list a person with this name when searched. I sometimes will contact the person to verify it is them.
  6. The site being linked to is, in my opinion and at the surface level, legitimate and respectable and neither plastered with advertisements nor poorly crafted.

Here's an example: Today there was a comment from an accounting company on my post about solar energy. Upon visiting the company's website it seems the company provides services to help people cost-justify solar installations. Points 3, 4 and 6 seemed to be satisfied, so I would have accepted the link if the other rules had been followed.

Here is the text of the comment, however:

Hi, nice post. Well what can I say is that these is an interesting and very informative topic on solar energy financial management. Thanks for sharing your ideas, its not just entertaining but also gives your reader knowledge. Good blogs style
too, Cheers!
This kind of 'flattery' adds little of relevance. I would have accepted it as friendly encouragement if there were no links, but the presence of a link makes such wording violate rule 2, since there is no additional useful information.

To add something even slightly useful and not break rule 2, the poster could have said, "People buying solar installations may need help doing the needed financial analysis; companies like ours can help with that."

The link was buried under "solar energy financial management".  Since the page linked was not a general page about that topic (e.g. a wikipedia page or some other pure unbiased information site) then rule 1 is being violated. To avoid breaking rule 1, the linker needed to put the link on the name of the company.

Furthermore, the person leaving the comment gave the name of a person, but a search yielded no such person at the company in question, violating rule 5.

I suggest that bloggers in general adopt rules similar to mine.

1 comment:

  1. I like your policy on spam, Tim. I run an info-site and usually delete ALL spam, (and I get a lot of it) regardless of content (even if I agree with their ideas) My premise is this: I will not let others post FREE ads on my site (which I must PAY to operate) let them pay their own way!