MY OWN QUICK TIPS – to determine if your blog or web reader comments are from Spammers, Spam Bots… or from actual legitimate readers and followers

Blog spammers, web spammers and spam robot web crawlers (spam bots) are much trickier than regular Email spammers.

Spambot

Spambot (Photo credit: eelke dekker)

Be careful to protect your content from these clever spammers. They disguise themselves as genuine readers and followers. They post flattering and complimentary comments on your articles and posts, hoping you will approve them and allow them to be posted on your site. Once they get on your site, they often steal your content, mislead your true readers to their own site, and even sell your content to their own customers by using link-backs to your site! 

When reviewing your  reader comments, there are a few simple things you can do to often tell immediately if you have a spammer comment or spam bot comment:

  • If you allow comments on your site, set it up so that the commenter must provide an email address in order to make a comment. This is very important and an easy way to often (but not always) see an obvious spammer comment. For example, if their email address is something like jerry@discountdrugsonline.com (fictitious email, I hope) you may have a spammer that is trying to push his own website and products.
  • Mouse-over the commenter’s Login Name (not the email). Usually hosting sites and blog providers like WordPress will provide a mouse-over pop-up picture of the commenter’s own site instantly (without you ever having to actually click and enter their site). If you see a pop-up site picture that looks like a site that sells products or services you probably have a spammer. However, be careful! Many of these spammers are very clever and have a facade mouse-over site that may even appear as a real blogger site.
  • Read the words of the comment itself. It the commenter speaks specifically about something in your article or web page, that is great and a good chance that it is coming from a legitimate reader and not a spammer. If however, the comment is VERY general and doesn’t mention anything specific about your topic, be cautious as this is the most common give-away of a spammer or spam bot.
  • Look at the grammar in the comment. If the grammar is ‘off’ and you see certain words misplaced or used incorrectly, you probably have a spammer or spam bot comment. Often spammers or spam bots will use article spinner tools. These tools will take a general comment and switch around verbs and nouns, which allows them to post the same comment on various posts without being caught by the search engines and the spam catcher applications. This doesn’t happen as often with live human spammers, but even they are beginning to use this tool to expedite their efforts. It’s pretty easy to spot these comments and it is a good indication of a spammer.
  • Look at the IP address of the commenter. If you see multiple comments using the same IP address (even if the last three digits are different) there is a good chance you are being spammed.
  • You also have the ability set up your blog or website so that ALL comments must be approved by you before they are posted. I personally chose NOT to do this and it has worked fine on my blog site – but only because of the Akismet tool. Any comments that have been automatically posted (so far) have always been by legitimate readers. Further, all spammer comments have been caught (so far) by Akismet and held in my Spammer Box – for my review, my approval, or my deletion. How you set up your own blog or web site is your choice.
  • Utilizing a spam catcher tool such as Akismet will help catch spammer and spam bot comments automatically and place them in your Spam folder for your review. Upon reviewing them, you can decide whether to approve them for posting or delete them permanently. Most site providers offer this type of tool free of charge.

Happy Blogging!

Ooops! Learn from my mistakes – Tips EVERY blogger should know about SPAMMERS

no spam!Okay, I admit I am new blogger.

Today I made a HUGE ‘newbie blogger’ mistake that I’m sure many bloggers and website owners haven fallen prey to.

My hope is by sharing what I have learned it will help others to avoid the same mistakes.

First, you should know my entire purpose in creating this blog was to provide helpful, free content for individuals and businesses relating to small business issues by using my CPA knowledge and my Sales and Marketing background as the basis for my content. The intent is to provide this information FREE, without pushing my CPA services at all. I strongly believe this is the only way to actually be heard in this day and age, especially with so much media and push advertising constantly being shoved in front of our eyes and ears. So far, I have enjoyed this immensely – BUT…

I am learning some costly mistakes along the way, including the topic of this post, which is about BLOG and WEB SPAMMERS.

Having had my WordPress blog site up for about a month, I noticed today that I had over 300 comments sitting in the SPAM folder on my blog site (and over 700 since I started blogging). When I opened the folder and read these comments, they all seemed VERY complimentary to each of my articles and I didn’t understand why there were in my Spam folder at all! So like so many new, beginning, naive bloggers… I deleted the obvious SPAM comments, and simply approved the others, thereby allowing them to be posted. Ooops… big mistake!

What I have now discovered is that by approving those comments, I have fallen prey to spamming robots (called ‘spam bots’) and even hired human blog-web spammers. To make matters worse, this can affect my Google and search ratings! This is certainly not a good way to start out blogging, but now that I know this I want to SHARE this information to anyone that follows my blog and to all new bloggers out there.

As long as we learn and help others with our own mistakes, I believe it will be returned to us (in some form) in the future.

My blog is a simple, totally free blog site with WordPress. Even with the free version, anyone can utilize many of their free plug-in widgets and applications. One of these plug-in applications that helps to block these blog and web spammers is something called Akismet (I had never heard of it before today). I am sure there are other applications provided by other blog and web sites, but this particular application is utilized by WordPress (just FYI).  Anyway, I discovered this tool today as I was reviewing all of these ‘wonderful’ comments that were placed in my Spam folder – and then realized that this ‘Akismet’ application had been the culprit that placed them there. At first I was irritated (they were good comments after all, I thought). I became curious and wondered WHY it did this and HOW it determined what was spam and what was a legitimate comment.  So I dug a little deeper and realized this application was actually protecting me exactly the way it was intended to do. It was actually my own action of un-spamming and approving those comments that allowed myself to be bamboozled by these Spammers! 

These spam bots and personal spammers are quite tricky! They post flattering and complimentary comments on your blog and web site for the sole purpose of having you approve their comments so they are posted on your site. Once you do this, THEY SELL YOUR CONTENT and often entice your readers to follow them to their site to sell them their own products. Often they even sell link-backs to YOUR OWN BLOG for small amounts of money to their customers! They do this without your permission of course, and certainly without sharing their revenues.

Again, shame on me for not researching this BEFORE approving those comments. The price paid will be mine, as it will now take me the same amount of time to go back and delete all of those comments as it did when I originally approved them. Fortunately only my time is lost….. for this mistake.

This certainly shows the vulnerability we are constantly exposed to in our technologically dependent society – and often without ever realizing it.

Below is the link of a short article that is a MUST READ regarding 5 things every blogger should know and spam bots and web spammers.

This particular article is from ‘Akismet’ but I am only suggesting it for the content it provides. My intent for this post is not to suggest or recommend Akismet or WordPress. This information will apply to any web or blog site and probably any type of web-spam blocking tool that is available through your own web or blog provider.  I hope you find it as useful and helpful as I did. Enjoy!

FIVE THINGS EVERY BLOGGER SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SPAM: How we stop comment and trackback spam.

Extension to pay vs Extension to file

Taxes

Taxes (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

Individual income tax returns are due on April 17, 2012 (tomorrow). If you need to file an extension to file your tax returns, you can do so by completing Form 4868 http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4868.pdf – or online at any free third-party IRS approved vendor site http://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/jsp/index.jsp?ck. This is an extension to file your income tax returns… it is NOT an extension to PAY your income tax returns.

The IRS announced last month it’s Fresh Start initiative program. One part of this program offers relief to certain taxpayers in PAYING their taxes.  To be eligible for this, you must have either 1) been unemployed for at least 30 days in 2011 and/or through April 15, 2012.. OR 2) been self-employed and had a 25% decrease in revenue (relative to 2010) due to the economic downturn. If you fall into one of these categories you can file Form 1127-A http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1127a.pdf to request a six month extension to pay your taxes (only eligible if owing under $50k in taxes). As long as your taxes are paid by October 15, 2012 this program gives the taxpayer an extension to pay their taxes without the 5% per month late filing penalty. Interest charges will still apply.

Remember, if you also need an extension to FILE your taxes, make sure your Form 4868 is also sent in by April 17, 2010.