A Feast of Spam
One of the many nice features of WordPress is that it provides numerous statistics. I happened to check my spam statistics today and found that 56% of the incoming comments were correctly flagged as spam. This has been roughly 8,500 spam “comments” since the start of the blog.
On the one hand, that seems like a lot of spam and might seem a bit surprising. On the other hand, a little reflection on the nature of the spam beast actually reveals that this is about what should be expected. After all, real comments require that a person actually go to the blog and type out a comment (relevant or not). Spam, in contrast, can often be generated automatically. As such, it actually seems surprising that only 56% of the incoming comments are actually spam.
Presumably blog spam works on the same basic principle as email spam: with enough volume profits are possible. Since the flood of spam seems as strong as ever, I infer that there is money to be made in spamming. Or, at the very least, people think they can make money via spam comments.
In addition to the idiot spam, there is also more intelligently targeted spam. This spam is for products or services that are somewhat connected to the blog post. For example, my post on tanning beds attracted spam from people selling these products and people running tanning businesses.
One thing I have seen recently is smart spam: spam that occurs in a relevant comment. Someone will actually present a relevant reply to a post and then insert a spam link. I don’t consider people linking to their own blogs to be this sort of spam, after all getting traffic from comments seems to be a legitimate approach. Presumably the people behind this believe that the effort will pay off and people will, for example, decide to go with a collection agency because someone posted a comment on a blog about the Iraq war with a link to that business. I suppose this can work, provided that the spammer is very fast in cranking out smart spam or if the spammers are paid very little per smart spam. I also suspect that some people smart spam for themselves. For example, a person might have a business and stick in spam as they are going about their normal surfing.