Google Groups Comment Spam

It crops up occasionally that people want to leave a comment with a reference to a Google webpage or a Google search result.

Unfortunately on a daily basis my server is hit with comment spam with links pointing to Google redirects, or Google subdomains.

Here are some examples:-

Google Groups Comment Spam

Due to all the spam, Google.com ends up on my domain blacklist, and a single URL occurrence will still allow it to be visible within my standard settings for comment moderation, as long there are no other specific penalties imposed by Spam Karma.

Multiple occurrences will end up buried amongst the spam, which is not something I wade through on an hourly basis.

Recovered Comment

Google.com isn’t the only domain with such a penalty, for instance it is also the case with tinyurl, blogspot and many more.

I don’t moderate comments because someone disagrees with me, I do however delete comments that clearly suggest that they were written just to get a link, in fact especially when I suspect the sincerity of comments such as “Great Post”.

Spam Karma has its flaws, but is also not subject to the collective intelligence of Akismet.

I know Google Groups spam is something dear to Igor’s heart, so I should mention his Project Honeypot Spam Domains List

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Comments

  1. says

    Funny you should blog about this, I’ve been tracking tons of spam on Google Groups subdomains, and they still haven’t fixed it. It all seems to be the same type of stuff with a javascript redirect to some .cn domains.

    It’s all easily spotted by clicking through a few of these results.

    I’ve noticed that even Googlers using their @google.com email address get caught in akismet some times in posting comments on my own blog.

    • says

      Quite funny, I had to pull that comment out of the sin bin as well, though it appears under the standard -20 filter

      It would be very easy for them to fix

      As far as I can see, it actually has to be a correctly formatted hyperlink for the domain filter, thus the @google.com wasn’t looked on as being a problem.

  2. says

    Great Post! hahaha, kidding, but it is a good post!

    It’s amazing that people will attempt to leave a comment 7 or 8 times in a row, thinking it will get through. I smile as I delete, delete, delete, because I always moderate my comments!

  3. says

    yesterday I found the following comment on my blog:

    “Please, do not delete the given message. Money obtained from spam will go to the help hungry to children ugandg.”

    I really hate spam, but I have to admit this is what I call “a great piece of copywriting” :)!

    • says

      A long time ago I actually suggested that some kind of automated commenting might even be ethical, which it is used in conjunction with some kind of emergency charity relief, and still highly targeted.

      At the time it was after the New Orleans Hurricane disaster, and I could imagine a charity using a comment spamming like tool to provide news updates on blog posts specific to the topic.

  4. says

    Hi Andy – I subscribed to you after reading your comments on an SEO post on Problogger, as you seem to know what you’re talking about.

    At the moment I delete my own spam – especially the great post and great site ones. But, I’m finding I can’t keep up. Is Spam Karma a better option than Askimet?

    Thank you.

    • says

      Catherine for me it is, though it can also be used in conjunction with Akismet as mentioned above.

      This is the basic configuration I use on many of my blogs

      http://andybeard.eu/2007/05/akismet-spam-karma.html

      On this one I have modified them a little, it is slightly more work to maintain but as I tend to reply to comments fairly often, having to approve most first time comments isn’t a problem.

    • says

      David sorry I didn’t get back to this sooner – I suppose performance difference depends on how you work and how many blogs you own.

      I find using SK more efficient, and safer

  5. says

    I tried the honey pot project with several well known spam domains. But they were “clean” strange enough…

    At my old blog I had several Google Redirect pages, starting with google.com and then the spam domain. Tough to track but also simply banned google.com at the end.

  6. says

    A little off topic and please point me to another post if you’ve already covered something like this but…

    How do you feel about people using keywords for their name in comments rather than their own name?

    It seems ok when you see one or two comments like that, but there are a lot of blogs I go to where ALL the comments are like that and I wonder what it’s going to do for blog comments in the future.

    Any thoughts?

    • says

      It is partially covered in my comment policy.

      I basically want all links to be to good sites where I can find out something about a person, thus they can then use anchor text.

      If someone from Google left a comment here, and linked through to a Google property, I would expect them to use their name rather than “search engine”

      Anywhere in between is a judgement call. As an example I know Shawn from Hobo Web has other people he works with, but effectively he is the only one out and about commenting. I have told him that he can abuse anchor text all he likes to his own sites.
      If he started leaving anchor text links to client sites I would delete them, it wouldn’t be fair.

      Dev’s comment above I allowed, I could reply to his comment as Dev and not worry. Probably a few too many keywords, but the site was legit.

      There are a few family business owners who are regulars, and leave keywords as anchor text, I am fine with that as I checked their company profile.

      The same is true for SEOs, Realtors etc, who have a personal site.

      I would prefer people to use anchor text that is relevant to them, as long as I can relate to the person leaving the comment.

      That being said if someone has a 12 person firm and leaves a comment with anchor text, and I visit the link and can’t work out who left the comment, I am going to call them out on it and probably delete the link.
      I have upset people over it as well

      I am also good at spotting junk sites – I will delete the links even if a name is used that appears on the other site.

  7. says

    I gotcha, good explanation. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately mainly for my own site not client sites. But the last thing I want is to look like an ass on a blog that I frequent a lot.

    So it sounds like your saying as long as I do it for my own site and no obvious keyword abuse than it’s not too frowned upon.

  8. says

    One issue with keeping a spammed domain list like the PHDSL…you say “blacklist” I say “backlink scraping list”
    Although to be fair, it’s not hard to find spamvertised domains without it for a quick backlink scrape.

  9. says

    Its all a matter of volume. I dont want to be a human spam filter and spend every minute of my day checking for spam. Akismet works okay for me but lets through couple of spam frequently (especially the ones without links). And I hate captchas, I won’t put one on my blog. So I wrote a plugin to block comment spam without resorting to captchas called WP Captcha-Free (Sorry for the shameless plug, I hope you don’t take this as comment spam ;) ). It uses a combination of time based hash and ajax to block spam (or atleast ensure the commenter was human). I use it myself on both my blogs and now get almost zero spam from an earlier 40+ per day. This doesn’t replace Akismet but does complement it very well. You can check it out at http://wordpresssupplies.com/wordpress-plugins/captcha-free/

    If you do, let me know what you think!

  10. says

    Andy thanks for mentioning phsdl, I put a lot of work into it and it has helped cleaning up Malware Spam. So You will not not find much Malware Spam redirect domains on Google groups or blogspot now days. But passive Spam is hard to ger read off. Even on my Human rights activist blog I got passive Spam but I have the setting on WordPress set to have first time commentators moderated and the hello I like your post will not be posted..:)

    I just come back from SES London, too bad we could not meet in person and have a beer. The show really sucked not many people were there.