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Are Spammy Comments Inevitable?

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Hang on, I’m not going to talk about the spam and junk comments we get on our blogs because that’s long since been discussed to death and while it’s managed by Akismet and such, it’s just a fact of life. Even with those tools, I still get 5-10 clearly spam comments on AskDaveTaylor every night (usually between 1-5am, when I imagine that it’s mid-day in India or China?), all easily deleted.

Instead, I’m going to ask whether these sort of comments are just part of being online and a natural outgrowth of any commercial or economic system where there are bottom-feeders trying to exploit and trick both the system and its users for a fast buck?

What made me wonder this, btw, is when I was looking at the app reviews on iTunes for a game and noticed that they’re starting to be overrun by spammers. Yup, those little two-sentence reviews are a brave new outpost for this sort of thing, as shown here:

In case it’s not obvious, I’m not encouraging you to check out either of the apps (or Web sites) mentioned. Like email spam, like blog comment spam, encouraging these guys is like feeding cockroaches in a tenement, a really bad idea.

What really strikes me about this after being in the blogging world for eight years and being online for a lot longer than that is that there’s a sort of inevitability to this sort of thing, a sense that everyone who designs any sort of user feedback or user generated content system, any Web-based app or even standalone app that lets people share their own opinions must take this junk into account and design the system to limit — or, better, prevent — these sort of abuses.

On the blogging front, it amazes me that I see similar sort of daft spam comments on all of my blog articles, from film reviews on my film blog to parenting discussions on my parenting blog. I know, much of it’s automated, but it’s not, really, because the automated stuff is what Akismet is so darn good at catching. This is actually a human being spending the time and effort to attempt to leave a comment that starts out more or less related to the topic (“good review, I love Jolie!”) followed by those pesky links to their scams, hustles and rip-offs.

Is this just the way of things?  Should we all finally buckle down and just assume spam is going to spread and ooze into every corner of our online lives?  What do you think?


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