Friday, 11 October 2013

Just giving you a quick heads up...

This is exactly the sort of phrase that begins many a spam comment, and it's one that for some reason particularly annoys me. The words 'heads up' indicate that the person saying this wants to grab my attention, ostensibly to tell me something urgent and compelling that I should be aware of. That something ought to be important, but when I read on, it's clear that they are simply trying to get me to visit their own blog or website, which from the name of it will be offering a service that I don't want, such as poodle care, financial advice, or sex toys.  

It's mere self-advertisement, and I'm very glad that Google identified it as spam, and sidelined it for me. I delete such stuff without further ado. I don't want my blog infected with such nonsense. Sometimes Google doesn't divert 'comments' like this to its spam section, and they remain underneath my posts among the proper comments that I welcome. They don't stay there long. As soon as I spot them, they get consigned to the oubliette. But they are an irritation all the same. It's a chore to look at my lists of comments made, the ones published and visible to all, and the ones that were treated as spam and visible only to me. I resent having to be a censor. I resent being a target for people who are not interested in me personally, except as a potential customer, or possibly a gullible victim for some scam. I resent the intrusion into my space. It's like junk mail in the post, or being pestered with cold calls.

It's obvious that most of these 'comments' are generated automatically, and are not one-offs from some real person, because I see them appearing in my spam box again and again, exactly the same wording as before. I'm guessing that they are set up and sent out as standard responses whenever a post of mine (and presumably a post of yours) contains a certain trigger word. So if you were writing a heartbroken post on the death of a dear relative, and it happened to contain the words 'hospital' or 'flowers', you might provoke spam comments advertising medical insurance, breast surgery, funeral services, cheap viagra, wedding catering, and gardening expertise. It's obvious that your post wasn't read and considered by a human being, as the response is so irrelevant, and so lacking in empathy. Or if it was read by a real person, then how horrible it is that anybody can think it appropriate to push commercial messages at you at such a time.

A lot of spam comments are devoid of any clear purpose. Even if they begin with that phrase 'Just giving you a quick heads up' they ramble on about nothing at all, with misspellings and grammatical mistakes thrown in. Do they really expect you to wade through that? Why would you? Or any sensible person? Are they serious posts in any sense at all? Or just a way of dropping electronic litter?

I'm frequently complimented on the content of my post and the quality of the 'information' I have provided, in vague terms usually. I'm not fooled. Especially when they say 'You guys are always worth a read' or 'It's good that guys like you can be relied on to give the right information'. Why do they think I'm a team? Or they make out that finding my blog has turned their life around: 'I'm so glad I found your blog, I've been searching for years for something like this'. After the token flattery, I may be asked whether I can offer 'a newcomer to blogging' tips on setting up a website, choosing a blog host, composition, layout, how to avoid being hacked, all kinds of things. And, of course, to direct my answer to their website. Oh, come on.

Sometimes they criticise your posting abilities. I had several last month that accused me of writing posts that were too short, and of never illustrating them with photos! Yes really.

I've had people asking me whether I would like them to ghost write for me, implying that (a) I am super-busy, worn out, and need someone to take the strain, or (b) that my writing style is incompetent. What a cheek. Besides, they are ignoring the fundamental purpose of blogging: to put yourself out there on the Internet, in your very own words.

Increasingly I have been hearing from people offering me suggestions on how to make my blog score better for advertising purposes. That is, how to best turn my blog into a platform for advertisements, and make myself a bit of money. Thank you, I've looked into that. And I have no wish whatever to besmirch my lovely blog with annoying ads that take up screen space, or hide my posts. It's obvious who makes the real cash out of such advertising agreements. It won't be me.

Eagle-eyed sorts may have noticed that in the last few days I've rewritten my health warning for making comments. It now reads:

This blog is public, and I expect comments from many sources and points of view. They will be welcome if sincere, well-expressed and add something worthwhile to the post. If not, they face removal. 

Ideally I want to hear from bloggers, who, like myself, are knowable as real people and can be contacted. Anyone whose identity is questionable or impossible to verify may have their comments removed. Commercially-inspired comments will certainly be deleted - I do not allow free advertising.

Whoever you are, if you wish to make a private comment, rather than a public one, then do consider emailing me - see my Blogger Profile for the address.

Lucy Melford


I haven't said so with a fanfair of trumpets, but I've re-applied the 'who can make comments' filter, to block 'Anonymous' comments. So once again, people will need to be registered bloggers to say anything. It'll make almost no difference to the number of worthwhile comments received. But I notice, with gratification, that my spam box is now empty. No more 'heads up' messages. No more questions from 'newcomers to blogging'. No more offers to supply me with marketing skills and haircare tips. Bliss.

1 comment:

  1. I've had a terrible time trying to post this Lucy.......LOL!
    Seriously, spam is a pain in the proverbial butt. The Akismet software on WP deals with spam very effectively and like most simply places it all in the spam box but not deleted for 30 days. I don't have to view the contents of the spam box of course but I do empty it manually every day. One or two undecided comments, that is undecided regarding them being spam are left in the 'pending' folder for me to decide whether it is spam or not. Usually it is! I think you are right about it all being pushed out automatically. Like yourself I will not tolerate advertising by those posting dubious comments.

    ReplyDelete

You must be registered with a proper blogging platform if you wish to make a comment. I have had to deny access to completely anonymous commentators.

This blog is public, and I expect comments from many sources and points of view. They will be welcome if sincere, well-expressed and add something worthwhile to the post. If not, they face removal.

Ideally I want to hear from bloggers, who, like myself, are knowable as real people and can be contacted. Anyone whose identity is questionable or impossible to verify may have their comments removed. Commercially-inspired comments will certainly be deleted - I do not allow free advertising.

Whoever you are, if you wish to make a private comment, rather than a public one, then do consider emailing me - see my Blogger Profile for the address.

Lucy Melford