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!

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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.

Important IRS Regulations and Compliance Changes for Tax Year 2011 – Ask Intuit

Important IRS Regulations and Compliance Changes for Tax Year 2011 – Ask Intuit.

Important information for tax preparers and firms.

CPA offering no-gimmick, completely free online answers to your questions relating to tax, accounting, business growth, and entrepreneurship. This is the KEY to growing your own business as well – so even if you don’t have a question, listen up anyway, folks!

Years ago (in the year 2000, I believe) I created a website that allowed people to ask CPA questions online. I charged (if I remember correctly) $9.95 for simple personal questions, $19.95 for basic business questions, and then each category or complexity increasing from there forward, increased the price accordingly. It wasn’t a bad idea and I had a GREAT domain for it (CPAquestion.com – which I now wish I would have at least kept that domain ownership – ah, but we all love hindsight).

Back then, I had no idea how to get people to come to that website, so I went to bulletin boards and basically spammed or used PUSH-marketing to drive people to the site.  It worked ‘fairly’ well (THEN), but I couldn’t get enough exposure to actually make a living, so in the end, I dropped the idea.

If I knew then what I know now I would probably have made it a huge success, at least for a while.

 That idea wouldn’t work very well today. And my method of getting clients to my site would have really failed.

  • The entire marketing and branding demand has changed – and now consumers, clients, and the public are in control of what they see, what they want, and how they want it.
  • The traditional media and government are no longer in control of what consumers and citizens see and discover.
  • It is a NEW ERA – and companies that don’t realize this quickly, will continue to lose money on advertising the old way.

Push marketing, spamming, direct mail, radio, print advertising, yellow pages, television, etc. – IS OUT. Did you hear me? It is GONE.

There is only one way that companies that do not already have nationwide brand recognition will be ‘heard’ going forward, and there are three main things to remember in using it for it to actually work and be effective:

SOCIAL MEDIA is the only avenue where companies will be heard and followed to build their company brand and grow from this point forward.

That’s a bold statement, I know – but the facts show it to be true.

Studies show that by the year 2020, over 75% of businesses will be run by people who are TODAY between the ages of 18 and 30. Think about that. How do these ‘Gen Y’ individuals communicate now?

  • They rarely even use their mobile phones for voice. They use text messaging instead – for personal communication certainly, but now even for business.
  • They will Google something quickly on their laptop or mobile phone, without ever thinking of picking up a Yellow Pages book.
  • They fast-forward right through those television ads and they switch channels on the radio as soon a commercial comes on air. (In fact most have 10,000 songs on their iPod or listen to commercial free websites such as Pandora).
  • Newspapers are now online, and if there is a topic of interest, it can be found at the click of a button on their phone or computer.

The point is THINGS HAVE CHANGED and social media is just about the only avenue a company has to have their message ‘heard’ now and especially in the coming years.

But be careful, simply signing up for multiple social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Foursquare, Pinterest, etc.) is NOT going to work if you don’t have PASSION for what you are doing along with the following three things:

1)      GOOD CONTENT – If you simply blast on your social pages (or worse, others posts) what you do, and how you do it… you will FAIL in addition to making others annoyed or angry.  People can spot SPAM or push-advertising so quickly now, it’s meaningless to try that angle. Instead, people want good content that helps THEM. And they want it for FREE. If you can provide good, helpful content in your genre of business, you need NOT ever insert advertising information about your company, other than perhaps your signature line. If people need or want what you do, and you are providing good content that helps them, they will be attracted to you and/or your business anyway. This is not expensive… but it will be time-consuming.

2)      ADAPTING TO SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS AND APPLICATIONS – What is hip and popular today will certainly be different by this time next year. You must understand what these Social Media accounts actually do and you must use them effectively. Pinterest is not the same type of tool as LinkedIn or Twitter.  You must study each tool, each application, and use them ALL. It’s not difficult individually, nor is it expensive, but again, it is time-consuming and it changes constantly.

3)      MAKE IT PERSONAL – This is the final key to building business using social media. Answer EVERY question or comment – and make it about helping them, not selling them on your product.  Social media is not personal, unless you make it personal. If you provide good content, and a client follows you because you’ve used the right tool or application to be ‘heard’… but then you don’t have that immediate response or interaction with them, they will probably click the mouse to the next article, blog, tweet, or photo. Again… this is not expensive, but absolutely necessary and time-consuming.

 

I no longer own the domain CPAquestion.com – but I do have a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn account, etc. (see all the lovely links below) – and I study each day learning these and other social media tools.

The purpose of all this is to simply to help businesses grow, which is my passion.

  • Gaining new tax or accounting clients has been the fortunate result (and can be for you too!) but it is an indirect result of effectively using social media to help others, without asking for their business.

This is the key to the future of business marketing. 

And so, because I am a CPA and a motivated entrepreneur, I would love to hear from you if you have a question or comment or topic relating to helping businesses grow and/or accounting & tax. There is no charge, no catch, no follow-up spam, or gimmick. I only want to provide good, free content relating to accounting, tax, or business growth – which is my passion.

If you don’t have social media account, feel free to email me directly at michele@cloudcpaservices.com. If your comment or question will help others, I will share it (removing any confidential information) so others can benefit. If it isn’t something that will benefit others, that is perfectly fine also!  I will still respond, and help in any way that I can. Some of my social accounts are below, if you have a preference for your question or comment or topic.

Michele Robbins, CPA

Email: Michele@cloudcpaservices.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/cparobbins

Blog: www.cloudcpaservices.wordpress.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/cparobbins (@cparobbins)

LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/michele-robbins-cpa/19/756/11

Pinterest Profile: www.pinterest.com/cparobbins

Tumblr Account: www.tumblr.com/cloudcpaservices

 

Monetize your passion

I believe you can monetize ANYTHING you are passionate about. If you aren’t doing what you love, why aren’t you? I would love to hear some things that YOU are passionate about and would love to do, but cannot imagine how to monetize it… I bet I can come up with several ideas for you. Post them here or on my FB page or any other site this post is linked to. Let’s have fun with this…

Life is short. Do what you love and then you’ll never work another day in your life. (Well, you’ll actually be working your butt off, but you’ll be doing what you love, so is that really work? You decide)