Almost everyone is affected with email spam. Spam detectors / email filters have improved substantially over the past few years but unfortunately the skills of the spammers have also improved. It is not just businesses involved in the fight against spammers but also governments; The Australian government, for example, is taking spamming and the negative consequences very seriously.
What? Spam isn’t exclusive to Email?
Beyond email there is another very relevant form of spamming; comment and trackback spamming. This form of spamming affects the millions of blogs on the Internet. Most blog posts are open for comments. This means that people are able to comment on the content of the post (look below this post and post a comment if you so wish). Whether using Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, TypePad, Blogger or any other blogging platform or service, comments are generally central to the philosophy of blogging which is sharing and engaging in knowledge.
What do Comment Spammers Want?
Comment spammers want links. This is attained in two primary ways when it comes to Blogs; comments and trackbacks / pingbacks. Link are very important to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as search engines such as Google and Yahoo count the number of links to a site (and the importance of the originating site) and base the importance of a site, in a large part, to the number of incoming links. The more incoming links (also called backlinks) often means a more prominent placing in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) which usually means far more visits to the site. All this is innocent enough except that many of the spamming sites contain malicious content or actively seek to mislead the visitor.
What is being Done about Blog Spam?
Most Weblog software developers and services are making concerted efforts to minimise opportunities for comment and trackback / pingback spam. WordPress, for example, offers its Akismet plugin which is extremely effective at separating genuine comments and trackbacks from spam comments and trackbacks. WordPress also by default includes the rel=nofollow tag on all links relating to comments so that spammers don’t get any search engine benefits from either commenting or using trackback / pingback functionality.
Unfortunately comment and trackback spammers have found a fertile hunting ground in the millions of blogs. Approving only genuine comments and trackbacks, keeping software updated and installing software such as Akismet all assist in the fight against spam.