Are You A Closet Spammer?

Before you say to yourself, “I know what spam is, I never spam”, humor me for a minute and read along. While this article may not change your life, you may know someone that needs to read it and sharing it with them might change their life and could help make the internet a better place for you and me.

Most people recognize SPAM as that email you never asked for, that pops up in your inbox and is about something that you don’t care about or aren’t interested in. This type of spam is the scourge of the internet and thankfully most email services and email client software are pretty good at keeping most of it away from innocent victims.

Spammer name tag

Blog-comment spam is another form of spam that is pretty obvious when you see it. Often times it’s just computer generated gibberish with some links dumped in, or it may be poorly written english that almost makes sense or is almost on topic, along with 10 links that give it away.

Most bloggers and webmasters are good at staying on top of comment spam and systems like Akismet and Mollom are very good at preventing it, making the internet a happier place for you and more importantly, for me.

That “other” kind of spam

But there is also that “other” kind of spam. That kind of spam that you see in online forums, Facebook, Twitter and even Google Plus and I touched on this type of spam in my how to fail at blogging article a few months ago.

I have always assumed that most bloggers and webmasters recognize this practice as spamming, but as I spend more time connecting with other bloggers and webmasters at Google Plus, it is becoming more and more clear to me that many well-meaning bloggers and webmasters simply do not recognize this practice as spam (i.e.; you should not be doing this!).

What is “other” spam?

I have seen this kind of “other” spam referred to as “link building” or “building a social following” or building referral or direct traffic. When done right, with a little time and thought invested, these strategies can work – but when you do it wrong, it makes you look like a complete ass-tard, and will definitely work against you and your website, and most important, it pisses me off.

The right way to use this type of link building/follower building is to find communities or internet forums related to the topic of your website, become a helpful, valued, respected member over time, then, when and where it makes sense, leave a link to an article in your website that might help to answer a specific question. Or, maybe posting a link to your website or Facebook/Google Plus profile with a request like “follow me for more tips about this”. This is a great way to allow people that are genuinely interested in what you have to say to find your website or follow you.  Again, the key here is that you must first become a valuable, respected, and helpful member of that community.  This takes time and effort.

When you come into a new forum or community and the first thing you do is leave a post or a comment that is nothing more than a link to a page on your website, a “follow me” request or something else that only serves your needs, this is spam!  Nobody wants to see this! This is not a good thing.. This bad.. You no do this!

You are probably thinking, ‘duh, yah, that’s spam!’, but what astonishes me, is that some people think this is helpful, acceptable, or is in no way spammy. Many times after I have deleted, or ‘called out’ this kind of spam at one of my websites, other websites, my blog, Facebook or in Google Plus communities, the author (aka ‘spammer’) has become highly offended or genuinely surprised that this sort of linktoilet spamming was looked down upon. The fact that 99.99999% of these people were all located in Pakistan, India, Malaysia, or the Philippines could mean that this is some sort of cultural phenomena – but I am not a statistician and don’t really have enough data to make a statement like this. It is also entirely possible that these countries just do a better job at producing dumbasses than other countries, but hey, I’m not a social scientist either. I will leave it up to my dear readers to educate me on this because I do admit to being very ignorant of the causes of stupidity in these countries.

So, if you have been doing your link-building or trying to build your social media following this way, take this advice: STOP! Nobody cares about your low-quality shitty website written in 2nd grade level pigeon English, and nobody wants to see you turn an otherwise good internet forum or community into your own personal linktoilet. Take a minute to learn some common decency, manners and netiquette and stop ruining the internet for everyone else. If you cannot understand why this is a problem, then please, unplug your 56k modem, turn off your computer, and go get a job sewing oily rags into children’s toys or making shoes out of old tires.  This will work out better for you and for everyone else.

If you have had enough of an attention span to read this far, my guess is that you already know all of this and it’s obvious to you. So for that, I thank you, and ask that you share this with someone that might not quite “get it”.

TL;DR: If you jumped right to the TL:DR, you really need to read the whole thing because it is probably referring to you.

4 thoughts on “Are You A Closet Spammer?

  1. Thanks for “poking” at irrelevant commenters Randy.

    I rely on sharing Transparent, Relevant, Useful, Honest & Engaging content in my posts, discussions and comments to “lure” people to my various online sites and social media profiles. It’s amazing how good content in a post as well as in a comment can accomplish organically what even the closet spammers try to do.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I guess we shouldn’t generalize people here. There still a lot of difference between ‘helping’ and ‘spamming’. At some cases, they’ll be those readers who would want to read more of your advice and we can’t just ignore it that we tend to suggest a blog that could be relevant for them. They are still exceptions. Besides, Google has it’s way to track down these kind of activities and eventually make a rightful punishment to the corresponding websites. You don’t really have to worry about it. 🙂

  3. Rand, I managed 15 LinkedIn groups with a combined membership over 700k on a volunteer basis in direct response to the massive spam influx that was drowning many groups. Since I believe that the same tactics will eventually be used on G+ once the spammers sort out how to use this network, I’ll add some observations.

    Many of the worst offenders are the massive bot networks. The fake accounts may be created by folks overseas (bought in bulk), but the bot masters are usually working for folks right here in the US that are building traffic for sites that generate ad revenue. Sometimes these are blackhat tactics to build the value of a domain for re-sale. On LinkedIn, some of the most invasive group-spammers were LinkedIn members living right in the ol’ US – using affiliate programs to put a barrier between them and the spambots they were running. “Plausible deniability.”

    They you get the folks you are mainly speaking to – overzealous self-promoters. They will never “grok” the concept that link-dumping is bad. On LinkedIn I was often accused of “censorship” and subjected to lengthy rants by these types – even when I could point to a specific group rule prohibiting that exact behavior – somehow I was picking on them personally. Just block them and move on.

    Finally we get the poor saps that read some blog post that says the best way to network online is to “post your blog links to groups/communities” and so they think this is an accepted practice. In fact, they see everyone else doing it in many communities so they just think it’s ok. You might shame a couple of these folks into repentance, but you’ll also have to spend a lot of time doing that. Up to you.

    The good thing, Google+ seems to have some pretty smart algorithms in place to help community owners detect and remove spam. Let’s hope they keep those in place as G+ grows.

  4. Me: Hi, how are you? 🙂
    Fr*end: I’m fine, thanks. 🙂 wanna go outside today?
    Me: Yes, of course 🙂
    Me: But when?
    Me: mabe at 15pm?
    Fr*end: don’t spam

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