Spammers are getting trickier! How to tell if a submission is spam

October 15, 2013
Stay vigilant and watch for suspicious content

It used to be easy to tell if a blog comment or website submission was spam. Unfortunately, spammers keep getting trickier. Today the line between obvious spam and seemingly legitimate posts is a lot thinner. To keep your site spam-free, you need to know what to look for.

“Viagra, cialis, cheap canadian pharmaceuticals! website.com
"Free designer handbags! Go to http://website.ru.”

This is what most people still think of when they think of spam. These types of comments or submissions are obviously off-topic. They frequently attempt to sell something or push you to click on their link.

Spam: The Next Generation

Spam nowadays can be a lot harder to spot because the spam submissions try to sound as legitimate as possible. Here are some real examples of real spam:

"This unique posting demonstrates that u really fully understand precisely what you are writing about! I really 100% am in agreement. Thank you -Melodee"

"An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!!"

"I have been surfing on-line greater than three hours today, yet I never found any fascinating article like yours. It is lovely value sufficient for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made excellent content as you did, the internet will be much more helpful than ever before."

"I seriously love your site.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you build this web site yourself? Please reply back as I'm looking to create my own blog and would love to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Cheers!"

"Remarkable! Its really awesome paragraph. I have got much clear idea regarding from this paragraph."

Signs to Watch For

1. Suspicious links

In the examples above, the text of the submission itself seems harmless… but you have to keep an eye on the other information provided by the submitter. Either the name, email or website field for all these posts contained a spam URL. Again, watch for totally unrelated URLs: links for Michael Kors handbags or online pharmacies should be avoided.

With posts like these spammers are hoping to give you a false sense of security. You may figure that the text of their post seems okay and allow it to appear on your website. Most content management systems, however, will provide a link back to whatever a commenter lists as their website URL. Voila, their spam link is on your site now.

2. Typos, poor grammar or unusual phrasing

“Good” spam might seem fine if you only glance over it, but trust your gut when something doesn’t read quite right. Many, though certainly not all, spam is written by folks where English is not their first language. Malapropisms, overly formal or odd phrasings are common. Of course, some folks are just poor spellers and writers, so you’ll have to make a judgment call!

Some examples: “I have got much clear idea…” or “I never found any fascinating article like yours.”

Why You Should Remain Vigilant

If the spam is flattering and could be interpreted as legitimate to the untrained eye, why not let it appear on your site?

The spam may not hurt you right now, but it could be a spammer testing the waters to see what they can get away with on your site and server later.

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[Image credit: bilbord99]