Mashable & Daily Telegraph UGC Spam May Invite Trouble Too


Spam is a big problem for any site that allows UGC (user generated content).

Recently I highlighted an example where my fav music mag, the NME, had their forums/message boards possibly removed from Google because of it (or is it because of poor moderation?)

What about my favourite social media news site?

Yup, Mashable has plenty of it too….

Albeit on a subdomain on Mashable, so it’s not as much of a problem as the NME spam, but left to continue unabated, it could well end up seeing this useful part of the Mashable site nuked in Google too and hard work building this site go to waste.

And UNLIKE the NME forum, Mashable do seem to be trying to combat it (unsuccessfully on some levels).

Here’s an example on Mashable – http://bit.ly/5MIWXr

Google is handing out page level penalties for spam, as well as sub folder penalties and domain penalties these days.

It’s easy to check for any of this type of spam on your site. Just use the site command in Yahoo and add modifiers like ‘v**gra’ or “p*rn” and see what comes up (yeah, i’ve had enough of those keywords in my posts).

Sometimes, it’s interesting.

I’d wager you could find this sort of spam on a lot of popular sites who have no idea it exists, too.

Just as a test I looked at the Daily Telegraph, a mainstream news site I read and who definitely seems to ‘get the web’, and you guessed it, spammed – and inviting page level penalties at least.

I don’t want to scaremonger here – while not TOTALLY out of control at this stage, it might be worth having a look at current moderation policies.

It must be a nightmare trying to moderate such sites – glad I’ve only got a blog! :)

Look at me. Reformed spammer. Giving back :p lol

PS That’s the last of my spam investigations….


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9 Responses

  1. richardbaxterseo says:

    Nice catch on the Telegraph article. Be quite interesting to see just how long that page keeps its comments. Of course, they *could* choose not to show comments to Googlebot :-)

    • Shaun Anderson (Hobo) says:

      Richard – Of course. I still think the single best way to combat comment spam is to simply moderate comments. Easy stuff. :)

  2. Alok says:

    Using the spammy keywords itself on your site/post/comment is enough for google to raise its eyebrows or when it is getting linked to questionable sites.

  3. Nick says:

    I agree with you Shaun – moderation isn’t difficult, and it works. We have a phpBB Forum (http://www.pimlico-flats.co.uk/forum/ if anyone wants to come & join in, a number of eBay, & eCommerce members, not just renting flats, anyway enough of that) and we have a dedicated member who wakes up early every morning and cleans the board of the spam. No one else ever sees it. Another technique we use is to regularly delete members who haven’t posted. Spammers use Bots to set up accounts, which then wait before spamming, we get pre-emptive. Another technique is to edit the spam, replacing their links with our own adsense! Hehehe Interestingly after having edited a spam to point out that 1 post might be acceptable, but 40 weren’t, we started getting single post spam. So the spam isn’t as automated as you would think. Can I interest anyone in a London Flat over Christmas or New Year – only £600/week?

  4. Shaun Anderson (Hobo) says:

    Nice one :)

  5. Kate says:

    We use Akismet for our comments and in addition we manually check them all. The problem is that most of the spam is automatically generated, so they can send it over and over again. Sometimes innocent people end up in a junk box, but I user generated content is still very valuable and I think it will be unreasonable to switch off at all.

  6. David says:

    How neat – thank you for the showing the technique of using the modifier of “siteURL/ desired keyword” Is there a repository of search tricks like that one that you could point me to?

  7. Shaun Foulds says:

    Thank you for addressing these issues. I have recently set up a WordPress blog and am inundated with spammers leaving 20+ comments at a time which is causing me a lot of frustration. My blog is a wedding Video site and has nothing to do with 90% of the meaningless comments posted on there. I have had to learn how to deal with them fast before they devalue my blog. The info you have kindly provided on this site is exactly what I needed. Thanks so much



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