Don't Throw Away Your Blog Spam, Recycle It

Album Cover: Various Positions

"Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya."
Leonard Cohen / Hallelujah

Posted on February 15, 2007 10:02 PM in Blogging
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Everybody hates blog spam, right? Bloggers especially. When we see it we clench our teeth, pound our fists, and send curses to the spam gods. So it's natural that our first inclination is to destroy it — we want to delete it permanently from our databases, our servers, our blog and our memories. However, I would urge you, if you can, to resist that initial instinct and show some restraint. You may be doing yourself a disservice otherwise.

Anyone who's been reading my blog for a while knows that my CMS is hand-crafted. I don't use WordPress or anything like that. Therefore, I have a little more flexibility in terms of the ways I approach the various aspects of my blog — spam included. However, even if you do run a CMS like WordPress, you should consider customizing the way you approach blog spam.

I'm no expert in how WordPress attacks the blog spam problem. I have set up a blog or two with that particular framework though, and was amazed at how much blog spam accumulated over a period of only a few months. I understand that now, however, because of tools like Askimet, that situation has gotten a whole lot better. That being said, I have this feeling that Askimet blocks spam but doesn't quite let you access it retroactively.

Being able to access blog spam retroactively is a key part of being able to "recycle" it, or put it to use against the actual spammers that created it in the first place. I used to delete blog spam on sight, but now I simply "hide" it. It continues to live in my database, but becomes unexposed to the outside world (and Googlebot in particular). I can access it whenever I want, though. In fact, I accessed it last night in order to look for any apparent patterns. The most obvious pattern was that the spammers have keyed in on a popular post and have begun targeting it almost exclusively. That didn't help me much, though, because that post tends to elicit real comments from real people as well. Another more important pattern that emerged was — well, actually I probably shouldn't give that away. Let's just say it's been addressed. At some point, I intend to actually report on how much blog spam has been submitted to my site vs. hidden over a period of time to see if my "recycling" theory holds water, but that's another post for another day.

The main point I'm trying to get across is that blog spam can be useful. You shouldn't necessarily send it off to the realm of /dev/null if you don't have to. As long as you've hidden it from your readers and especially from Googlebot, you've got nothing to lose and plenty to gain. Spammers are tricky, but in my experience, they don't quite have what it takes to take on someone armed with a dynamic programming language and a database.

Recycling your blog spam will get you one step closer to really knowing your spammers.

Comments

eloinadiaz on February 17, 2012 at 10:21 AM:

I came up with this idea of recycling in my twitter TL, since twitter does not seems to help me with getting ready of my scumbags 'spammers'. But Iam still working with the idea and your side help me a lot.

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