Bloggers beware! Comment spam is getting… nicer?

Nice Comment Spam and a quoted example, "I really enjoy reading your website"

Remember the good old days when you could filter spam comments with keywords? With the prevalence of smart filters and the rise of AI, spammers have started to use a different tactic: flattery.

Nice Comment Spam and a quoted example, "I really enjoy reading your website"
Can you tell which website this comment spam refers to?

I’ve started noticing this trend in the last few months. I keep getting comments on my posts praising my content, which would be cool, except these commenters don’t appear to be saying anything meaningful. It’s become clear that they don’t read the article they comment on.

For example, these are some of the verbatim comments made on my blog:

“Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Many thanks for providing these details.”

“I really enjoy reading your website; it’s full of interesting things. Thank you for planting the seeds of knowledge. I hope that you have a harvest of success and continued wealth.”

“I have read some excellent stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you put to make the sort of excellent informative website.”

“I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I don’t know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already ???? Cheers!”

I was able to find the same or similar comments posted on other websites. I’m not the only blogger that’s getting nice comment spam. It’s an epidemic.

Why has comment spam become so nice?

These positive comments are a waste of time to read. What incentive do these spammers have to write them?

It’s simple: links. If the comment form allows them to leave a link to their website, it’s free advertisement. I mean, they leave such positive feedback, they can’t be untrustworthy, right?

But why are they so nice?

Because it’s easier to sneak up unnoticed when they’re nice. Bloggers want engagement and appreciation for the content they put out there. Flattery bypasses our internal spam filters. Also, a blogger might be tempted to keep the comment spam to benefit their SEO rankings.

I decided against keeping my flattering comment spam because I want to protect my website’s visitors from questionable links. You’re welcome.

Do me a favor; if you encounter useless but positive comments somewhere on the web, don’t click their links. I refuse to click them to check if they lead to legitimate websites or scams. It’s better to be safe. Legitimate websites don’t resort to such practices. Don’t fall for it, please.

If you have a website or a blog that’s receiving these comments, just send them to the spam folder. Don’t allow the scammers to use your site as their free advertising space.

The rise of AI will make comment spam worse

I’m worried about the future of comment spam. I predict that it will be even harder to spot them once scammers realize what they could do with AI.

With the tools available, they could use AI to read an article and write a comment that relates to that article. It won’t feel random or unrelated anymore, which means that it will be harder to tell the spam apart from legitimate comments.

To demonstrate, I pasted this article into chatGPT and asked it to respond with a meaningful comment. Here is its response:

Hey there!

I just stumbled upon your article about the rise of flattering comment spam, and I have to say, it’s such an eye-opener! It’s crazy how spammers have evolved their tactics, and your insights into the trend are spot-on.

I totally get your frustration with these overly positive but generic comments. It’s disheartening to see how they exploit the genuine desire for engagement and appreciation that bloggers like you deserve. Kudos to you for not falling for the trap and choosing to protect your readers from potential risks.

Your writing style is engaging and your observations are on point. It’s unfortunate that spammers are trying to take advantage of the positive atmosphere you’ve created on your blog. Keep up the great work, and I hope this awareness helps others avoid becoming unwitting participants in their schemes.

Best, Alexandra

ChatGPT’s attempt at flattery

I fear I would struggle to recognize that a bot wrote that. It’s only a matter of time before spammers figure out how to automate this process.

How can bloggers protect their comments from spam?

Securing the comment form against bots is the first obvious step. Explore plugins, anti-spam services, blacklisting keywords and IPs of repeated offenders.

The second solution would be to disable the ability to post a link, taking away an incentive for spam bots to comment at all.

I don’t intend to do the latter just yet because I want to empower fellow creatives visiting my blog to link to their sites, and my blog traffic is still small enough that I can handle manual comment moderation. I will revisit this need periodically, should the spam patterns worsen. This might not be an option for more popular blogs, which have no choice but to tighten their spam filters.

Have you encountered spam flattery on the interwebs? Could you tell that a bot wrote it?

Isobel Lynx

Fantasy author and tech professional that turns her love of myth and magic into unique universes.

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