Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Comment spam on Google owned blogs


I’ve been meaning to write a post about all the comment spam on official Google blogs for a while now, but kept putting it off.
Even though I am reminded (what seems like) a few times a week. One time I even tweeted Matt Cutts about it, but my tweet probably got lost in all the other tweets he gets.

Basically ever since I left a comment of my own on Google’s “Inside AdSense” blog posts on May 21 this year, and opted in to receive emails for follow up comments, I have been receiving an email which tells me what is said in every comment that has been left.
So far not one of them has been genuine, they have all been spam.

What is Google doing to combat the effects of comment spam?

Well having the URL’s nofollowed is great for Google’s index, as it does help keep spam out of Google’s search results, but that doesn't stop the ultimate affect of the spam being left on a trustworthy site.

I know the majority of people can tell the difference, but I wonder what percentage of people think that because Google have not removed it, that its somehow OK and/or may be legit? Then click on the links, visit the sites and purchase items from them.

That’s obviously what the spammers ultimate goal is, I mean they can see that the links are nofollowed by GoogleBot, so I don't think for a minute they are spamming Google blogs for "SEO" purposes.
They simply want clicks, and ultimately sales.

The longer the links are left high traffic, highly trusted sites, the more chance they have of people ending up on their site buying stuff, and if they see in their logs that Google are indeed sending them traffic, then that will just encourage them (with good reason) to keep spamming Google’s blogs.

So why don’t they remove it?

I know that as soon as I get a comment on this blog (which is a blogspot blog using my own domain), I get alerted via email, and if its spam I delete the comment straight away.
But to be fair, my blog gets very little traffic compared to Google's, and therefore doesn’t get many comments so it’s relatively easy to moderate.

Google on the other hand have a network of very popular blogs covering all sorts of topics and services they offer, which no doubt gets tons of traffic and a lot of comments.
So is it possible that they just can’t keep up with the moderation, that its too much work for them to constantly keep deleting spam comments?

My guess would be that they have a day set aside where they go through and clean up all the crap they have ignored/save up over the months.
The oldest spam comment on the “Inside AdSense” blog post I have been following is dated April 28 2010. So it’s obvious they don’t do it very often.

Do they clean it up every 3 months (will it disappear July 28?). If so then that gives the spammers 3 months to promote their crapware.
Wouldn’t it be better to enable moderation of all comments so they don’t get published to the site straight away! Then at their set intervals, they could go through and either except or decline comments that are waiting in queue.
At least then the spam does not get “promoted” on their site while they find the time to delete it.

Blogger does offer a few different ways to moderate comments within the program, but a few more would be handy.
Could adding a "Flag as spam" button help alert blog owners to spam comments? I guess that wouldn’t help blog networks like Google’s if they don’t have the time to go through and delete the comments anyway, but it may help others.
Something like Akismet for blogger would also be a great addition to help combat the problem.If something like that is available, why doesn't Google use it?
After all, they obviously do care about it, they have a massive team devoted to trying to keep it from showing up in their search results.

So why don’t they hire a few people full time to try and keep it from their own blogs which turn up in those search results?

UPDATE: August 14.
I just noticed a new message/banner when I logged into Blogger...
Blogger automatic spam detection
So it seems Google are doing something about comment spam on Blogger blogs after all.
Come to think of it, I can't recall getting any 'new comment' emails from the Google blog this week. I guess they must have enabled it on at least one of their blogs! Good on ya Google.



  1. Hey,

    I saw your post title on the DP forums and had to come over and have a read :)

    It's an interesting point that you raise regarding the people that might be following the links and potentially purchasing from the spam sites. It obviously works because the spammers wouldn't waste their time because as you say, there is no SEO value.

    I think it also sets a poor example. Google effectively forced the whole do/no-follow onto the blogging community to combat spam and whilst these bloggers work hard to keep their blogs clean, Google appear not to care to much about their own house.


  2. Cheers for the feedback Mark...

    Yes it does set a bad example. I honestly feel that if Google do not have the resources to moderate the comments left on their own blog posts, they should just turn comments off.

    They actually have an option in Blogger that allows comments to be posted on an article without needing moderation for a two week period. After that time, any further comments need to be moderated.
    That would probably be ideal for them (assuming my guess is correct) in that blogs like Google's, that have a large subscription base and lots of posts/updates, would get the majority of their traffic and comments within the first few days or weeks of each post.

    So if they enabled that option in their own account, then they would only have to check the un-moderated comments periodically for two weeks and comments made after that period can be moderated when ever they get the time.



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