It’s often very easy to ignore all those spam comments that get left on your blog or forum, and If you’re not staying on top of it, a few weeks of inaction can result in hundreds of spam comments. Although most of them are harmless, and for the most part visitors to your page won’t pay any attention to them, you may not be so lucky when Google looks at the page.
This issue was recently brought to the attention of Mozilla when they received a message from Webmaster’s Tools about user generated spam comments on their blog.
“Google has detected user-generated spam on your site. Typically, this kind of spam is found on forum pages, guestbook pages, or in user profiles. As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to your site.”
After receiving the message Mozilla quickly took to the forums to figure out what the problem was. Google then responded with;
“In this particular case, it was the url https://blog.mozilla.org/respindola/about/ that we took action on, and that was because it was so defaced with spam comments. I checked the URL this morning and it was over 12 megabytes (!) of spam from 21,169 different comments. When a page like that lands in our search results, it’s the sort of thing that users complain to us about, so we are willing to take action.”
You can see more of the conversation between Mozilla and Google here: https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/webmasters/pg_4FmjEc_8/discussion
Now, Mozilla’s blog obviously get tons of traffic, and the average blog is not going to have 12 megabytes of spam comments, but the point remains the same. Spam comments not only ruin a good blog or forum, they also ruin search results. No one wants to see that kind of clutter when surfing the Web. So, if you are moderating any site that allows user generated content then you need to do your part to keep it spam free.
Luckily there are ways of avoiding the buildup of spam comments. If you have a Word Press blog, it prompts you to approve the comment before it goes up, or you can turn off the ability to comment all together. But if you have a blog or forum that users are heavily engaging in, you may have it set to automatically post user comments without your approval. In this case you will either need to stay on top of deleting the spam comments, or you could add a CAPTCHA to the comment section to make the commenter prove they are human first.
It’s pretty easy to spot a spammy comment, basically any comment that is completely irrelevant to the discussion topic. These can often contain outbound spam links, or ads for specific companies or services.
Written by James Maston