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Genuine comments or SPAM?

Enough said about the editing of comments. I got the impression that most people would not do it and some even may frown upon the idea. Let’s leave it to that.

Something else has sprung upon me and it has made me feel a bit silly and naïve. The reason I started looking into the option of editing comments is due to the following. Many comments I received were in the kind of English that either shows that the writer is not fluent in English or that they used a bad Google translation. Almost all of them go directly to SPAM – something WordPress does, I say thankfully!

SPAM in different shapes and forms

As I am researching the ‘art’ of blogging I started tracking the comments on my blog posts. As a result I have discovered something interesting or rather something annoying and a touch disappointing. Some days I had up to 10 comments – of course all in Spam to start off with. Some of them appeared familiar and after going over older posts I discovered that I had received the same or similar remarks before. They happen to be of a positive nature much to my liking but they seem to be templates. As I have seen exactly the same on other blogs I am drawing the conclusion that I am not the only one getting them.

This is only part of what I discovered. As I read the comments, un-spammed them and contemplated to react on them I hovered over the websites and email addresses of the writers. Only to find out that they all seem to come from websites with the same topics despite the fact that the email addresses are all different. You’ll never believe it but the content of most of those websites is about the apparently ‘highly sought’ after topic of pool cleaners. Must be! –  as the amount of promoters is abundant.

My first reaction was amazement, than disbelief followed by this uncomfortable feeling that I had been so naïve to believe that those comments came from genuine writers. They obviously did not – pool cleaners of all things!  Their websites and URL’s are different but they all seem to go back to the same source. Do I miss something here? Is there a secret society of these products that post spamming comments on blogs as a sideline?

Nice comments’ to lure you in….

Digging consequently even a bit more and looking at reactions on a larger number of my older posts similar comments have been posted coming from different sites. It didn’t take long to realise that most of them originate from sites with the same source  – the good old pool cleaner.

It really annoyed me and for a couple of days I was put off to write another article. I concluded however that it is just one of those things that happen when you expose yourself publicly. Apparently some people have nothing better to do. What I do wonder is what they think they can achieve with it. I am certainly not motivated to buy a pool cleaner nor would I recommend any of those sites. I am much more inclined to Booo them off the stage to be honest!  Anyway let them be. They have had their little moment on my site but from now on my ‘spam detectors’ will be on an even higher alert.

Then on a different note altogether – I am on holiday in Europe and think I am realistic by saying that I will reduce my blog activity to one post per week.

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Time for a summary

If you like to become a blogebrity, a problogger or a blogstar and aspire to be on the A-list of bloggers you will have to enter the blogosphere and start blogging yourself.

Before you start…

You start with creating a blog. You need to choose a hosting service and decide whether you like to get a hosted platform or use a multi-user platform and self-host. Beginners usually start with a hosted service such as WordPress, Blogger and TypePadall examples of hosted platforms. Just go into any of them, create an account and follow their instructions.

If you like to self-host, you need to register a domain and buy a hosting service. The next step is to point your registered domain name to your blog, a process called domain mapping. Unless you are a bit of a computer whizz you may need help with this!

Start blogging…

A blog usually has a main column where you write your story and sidebar(s) where you can put links and ads, also called blog verts or blogvertising. Apart from the page where your blog will appear there is usually a profile page that tells something about yourself and your reasons for blogging. Your readers like to know who you are so don’t under-estimate this.

Once you have decided on your topic you can post content on your site. Most bloggers publish posts on a regular base, ideally 3 times per week or more. Many bloggers are niche bloggers and they focus on a specialised topic. When giving your blog a name, keep it simple and broad enough to expand your topic!

When blogging you have to make sure you abide by copyright rules and give credit to other blogger or websites when you refer to them. Someone who plagiarises the content of another blogger is sometimes called a doppelblogger. If you like to uses pictures in your blog you can subscribe to sites such as Flickr where you can find countless pictures that are free to use. Alternatively you can take them yourself if you want to stay clear of copyright.

Posts are added in chronological order and stored in archives on the side bar of your blog. You can allocate categories and tags to your blog. This makes it easier for your readers to find posts written on specific topics. As a blogger you have access to the dash board or admin side of your blog. This is where you find all the controls and functions to manage your blog.

Your readers..

People who read your blog are your audience. They can leave comments on what you have posted. Unfortunately they can also leave comment spam but there are ways to minimise this evil. You can add filtering software and verification images such as CAPTCHA that pick up spamming comments and stop them from being published. Hosted services do this for you but when you choose to self host, you will have to install this yourself.

Your readers can follow or subscribe to your blog. By clicking on the RSS feed link, usually on the side bar, they can get automated notification from additional posts. You can create reciprocal links to other bloggers and ways to get notification are link backs such as refbacks, trackbacks and pingbacks all with their own specific functions. Don’t worry too much about this as you can blog without knowing what they are. They can be helpful once you get more serious and you’ll learn to use them when you are ready!

How to find you…

A search engine allows people to find information on the web. Popular search engines are Google and Yahoo and you may find web pages, blogs, images and other types of files on there. If you like people to find your blog you have to make sure that you optimise it with SEO or Search Engine optimisation. Your content ideally contains keywords that are relevant to search engines and the HTML code of your site should be optimised for that purpose as well. Savvy IT friends or in general young people seem to understand this innately!

A blog can consist of text but also of a mixture of pictures, videos, music, pod casts and many other things. Such media files are accessible through web feeds and can make you blog more interesting and interactive.

If you manage to read through the above and I haven’t lost you, you will have all the ingredients to successfully start up a blog.

Have fun blogging! 

Don’t TARGET my Blog!

Looking at my latest blog posts I realise I have not written much about blogging itself but more about related topics. Things that you may come across when you are blogging but maybe not have anticipated before starting.

I have mentioned negative comments and spam. This is something that will happen to you when you have a blog. Online presence makes you vulnerable and gives others the opportunity to target you – positive or negative. By now I have seen that some people are excellent marketers and grab every opportunity to plant links and get rid of their wares – without asking by the way.

Fortunately such comments end up in spam and I love WordPress for that. I can screen rubbish like that before I allow it on my blog. This is important as we, bloggers, spend time and effort on the content and appearance of our posts. The last thing I need is a comment that looks more like a mathematical equation than a piece of text.

Selling or being a pain….

You know what – you hard–sell-core out there….. If you would read up on the psychology behind marketing and selling, you would understand this. You would write a comment, ideally a nice one to get your foot in the door, create the necessary rapport and then cleverly introduce why you are there in the first place. Most of the time you may get my attention and I may even be enticed to follow your link to see what you have on offer.

I am aware that being online puts you in a position of being a constant target. Everybody who has something to sell sees in social media a great outlet but be aware! A friend of mine on Face Book published an outcry of frustration on his status the other day.  He was so annoyed with the amount of friends trying to flog something that he threatened to un-befriend them straight away as soon as the next sales ad would appear.

Being lured in!

To be honest Face book is a great marketing tool. I recently saw a Webinar about Face book marketing and it was mind-boggling. It is more user-friendly though to create a Face book business page in the case you like to sell or promote a product. I have signed up or liked a number of blogs and they turn out to be a daily (or more) stream of advertising for whatever.

One group I joined is creating so much stuff that twice per day I received at least 5-10 emails. The unfortunate thing is that the ads are not even appealing and I can’t figure out what this particular lady is actually promoting.  It did overwhelm me, it cluttered up my news feed and as a result I have removed the link!

I don’t consider it  fair to use a news feed that allows people to express their ‘daily stuff’ for hard sell. Neither is my blog an opportunity for others to market products or services. The name social media in itself says what it is for. It is an opportunity for people to connect, react and interact.

The issue here is where to draw the line. When does offering help and giving advice become ‘marketing? Brain food for another post I suppose…..

Who likes SPAM?

Just as you receive spam in your email account you also will get it as comments on your blog. Such comments can come from bloggers who have nothing better to do than leaving nasty remarks on your work or it can be generated by software programs known as ‘spambots’.

What on earth is a ‘spambot’ – you may ask! To be honest that was my reaction as well. Wikipedia defines a spambot as the following:

“A spambot is an automated computer program designed to assist in the sending of spam”.

A spambot should not be confused with a so-called regular robot or a web crawler. Web crawling or spidering is used by search engines and many other websites to obtain up-to-date information. A spambot can be considered a web crawler ‘gone wrong’ that surfs the net looking for blogs and forums to submit spam to the comment fields of those sites.

How to reduce spam!

Very irritating but apparently reasonable harmless apart from the fact that spam comments can affect your appeal to search engines. It is quite simple to prevent such comments on your blog and blogging package such as WordPress and TypePad offer a good screening solution.

        CAPTCHA

You all have seen or used the ‘letters and numbers’ you may have to copy before being taking serious when you order something, leave a comment or subscribe to website. This is called CAPTCHA verification and it works because it lets humans pass a test that computers can’t!  It may be a bit frustrating but it does reduce spam.

        Signing in

Although this is an option to help preventing spam it is to my opinion also a way to get fewer comments. I usually leave as soon as I see that I have to sign on because I always get the feeling that I am subscribing to the site. It is too much trouble for the spammer but also for the genuine blog reader!

        Filtering Software

Software that can be installed easily and that will run all the time. Hosted blog sites such as WordPress, TypePad and BlogSpot offer such a program. It filters all comments and grades them before they are visible. You as a blogger have the opportunity to allow a comment or not. If your blog provider does not offer this service you can download a package quite easily. Akismet  is free to download and will do the job.

Spammers use many different tactics to get their ‘message’ across and the more methods you as a blogger use to prevent spamming comments the better. Sometimes a spammer can be compared to a bacteria or a virus – you may stop them in one way but they have the ability to come back in a mutated form for the next attack.