The Seedy and Desperate World of Comment Spam

Angry spammer

Angry spammer

Today somebody left a comment on a website I manage. The page they left the comment on was reviewing a new service in the industry that launched in 2011. It was something I saw in the local press and found interesting, so I “blogged” about it. I do this rather a lot. Anyway, this was their comment (I have changed their name, email and the names of the companies involved).

The comment

A new comment on the post “Service A – New Way Work Without a Contract” is waiting for your approval

Author : Lucy X (IP: 212.159.129.196 , host-212-159-129-196.static.as13285.net)
E-mail : [email protected]
URL    :
Network  : Tiscali UK Limited
Comment:
There is a new player in the game, who is shaking up the industry. Service A have been affected by http://ServiceB.co.uk, there have been cases where Service A have called up there existing partners not to join Service B. This has backfired with clients wanting to work with Service B as they seem to offer a few photoshoot of the service and inside video tour.

That last bit did not make a lot of sense. However, I decided that maybe this was a new and important service so I should give them the benefit of the doubt and dig a little deeper. I checked the website. it was a bit basic, but appeared legit. Even though I could not publish their potentially defamatory comment, there might be an interesting service to cover on the blog. So I replied to the email that was left with the comment. It had a male name on so I thought to tread carefully, their email address may have been used without their knowing (some spammers do this to avoid getting their emails blacklisted). This was the conversation:

  • Me: Hello NotLucy, I received this comment on my blog from your email address, but signed Lucy X. Do you know anything about this?
  • Lucy: Hello, Yeah me and my partner share same email address. Yes I posted that earlier on. Kind regards, Lucy X
  • Me: Hi Lucy, OK, and what is your relationship with Service B? Is this your own company? 
  • Lucy: I wish I owned it. I have no relationship. I’ve use both Service A and Service B to buy my passes. I write blogs on how the fitness industry is changing, and if I see opportunities like this then I don’t miss out and make my point 😉 Kind regards, Lucy
  • Me: Ok, thanks for letting me know. Unfortunately I will not be able to approve the comment then as it could be considered defamatory against Service A. Cannot be too careful these days.

All OK. But then Lucy decided to get nasty. I have highlighted the most important lines.

  • Lucy: To be honest, it is an independent review. I don’t see why it shouldn’t get approved? I’ve been doing this for years where if I spot something unique I can write about a business… I do and always gets approved. So basically your saying Service A paid to have the article there and you don’t want ruin your relationship. What sort of a website is this. Thanks for the emails and the evidence of what sort of website you are. I will write something about your website when I see opportunity elsewhere to state your not independent and transparent about what you do.
  • Me: Please do not leap to conclusions. It is an independent review, we are an independent website. However, your comment stated that Service A actively asked clients not to use the other service.“there have been cases where Service A have called up there existing partners not to join Service B.”This may be true, but without proof it cannot be published. These days people are quick to issue take down notices and threaten legal action for such comments. I speak from experience, so am now careful about what gets published.If Service A read that comment they would be within their rights to take action if they felt that it was defamatory.

    It does not matter that it is an independent review. It is an attack on another company and I personally am not in a position to verify the facts or defend it in court.

    Suggested reading: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/aug/26/defamation-cases-twitter-blogs

    Be careful what you write and publish, sometimes things come back to haunt.

I did not hear back. Maybe they saw sense, maybe they are planning yet another negative SEO attack. Who knows? That site, which was once great, it pretty dead now. But I will still ensure that spammers, plagiarists, fraudsters and crooks don’t have a voice.

The real lesson from this is simple: never reply to a spammer. Don’t trust any of them.

I was sort of hoping I was helping them, but in truth, probably just adding to the bullets embedded in my lame foot.

  2 comments for “The Seedy and Desperate World of Comment Spam

  1. Michal
    July 28, 2014 at 10:22 pm

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  2. Webologist
    July 28, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Michal, I really don’t understand what your message means.

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