In a blog post titles “6 Steps to Kill Your Community“, Matt listed “Allow Spam Through” as the second step and “Don’t Participate in Comments” as the fourth step to killing your community. We treat comments and reader participation very seriously at Weblog Tools Collection. We highlight commenters, try to identify the frequent comments who participate willingly and heuristically remove nofollow tags from the links of commenters who participate in the community. I have personally chosen and thanked frequent commenter by providing them deeper access and rights to the various portals, elevating and applauding their presence within the community and have chosen most of my co-authors based on their participation and passion within the communities that I purvey. In short, I agree with Matt in that relevant comments and passionate participation are the lifeblood of any community.
But our little blog gets a lot of attention from spammers. We are listed on web pages that pin point nofollow blogs for spamming, splogs regularly repost our content and send us trackbacks and well disguised comments are often adorned with links to completely unrelated sites. Moderating comments takes a lot of effort from all of us (we are working on making this process simpler, stay tuned) and even then, some weirdness and mistakes slip past us. We have recently started noticing a lot of comments that seem mildly relevant but link to SEO sites or completely unrelated content that keeps changing.
Do you change your commenters’ URI often when posting comments? Are you under the impression that leaving comments with different links will give those links more exposure? Do you use Short URLs to get around comment spam restrictions? More importantly, how many of you force yourself to comment to just spread your links around? Have you ever left a comment just to increase your comment count? Are you an SEO professional who regularly comments on blogs for SEO purposes? You might be doing yourself (and us) more harm than good.
While we try our best to allow any and all relevant comments to be posted, we do actively remove suspicious comments. We make spam/spammer judgment calls every day, but spam is annoying and nasty and in my opinion, spam is like a leech that sucks off the goodness and leaves the host with nothing in return. It often clogs up the conversation and reduces relevancy. Just look at the latest comments on any old(er) blog with a popular post that has not been pruned and taken care of.
We do however, actively promote, reward and encourage passionate comments. If you feel that we have missed a comment that should have been posted, please contact us. However, if you are changing your link on every comment and linking to various websites around the internet who have paid you for your SEO services, please do not send us an email asking us to approve them. Mostly, dont be evil and smug!
How do you treat suspicious comments that have not been caught by Akismet? We manually visit every comment waiting for moderation and actively remove suspicious comments and any older ones that might be related. It takes time but it is worth it.
How do you reward your commenters? We use Highlight Author Comments and hacked up versions of various plugins for heuristics.
Do you import comments from other places on the web? No. We do not import comments from anywhere. The conversation is much more focused and we concentrate on quality versus quantity. We hope that our content, subject and demeanor encourage and crystallize commenting and participation. Other conversations about our posts on apps such as Digg, StumbleUpon and Twitter add nothing but noise wherein the real conversation in live comments get drowned out. I used to think that Trackbacks belonged in the comment flow. I have since changed my opinion after dealing with some posts with hundreds of comments.
Do you turn off comments on old posts? No. Old posts are gems. Conversations can get started on old topics and need to be allowed.
What do you do?