My “Beware Of Dog” Don’t Spam Me Sign

I’m always surprised at the stupidity of people who link spam on my blog. Let’s see. I write about search. I’m somewhat savvy to what link spam is. I regularly talk with the head of Google’s web spam fighting team, Matt Cutts. You really want to be spamming my blog? Seriously? You’re an idiot, if you do.

So last night, I added what I consider to be a “Beware Of Dog” sign. Next to the comment form, there’s now this message:

Thinking of dropping your link spam? Consider this. Seriously, STOP & READ. The guy who runs Google’s spam fighting team? I know him pretty well. In fact, it’s sort of a joke between us to see what’s the latest absurd link drop I can share. So if you want your site to be a poster child on his idiots wall — and probably to encounter a Google penalty — go ahead, drop your link. It’s nofollow anyway, plus I do have built-in spam fighting and what gets past that usually gets nabbed in a few minutes to a few hours. So you got to ask yourself. Are you feeling lucky?

Now to be clear, I have no special powers to get Matt to do anything against someone that spams here. I do indeed occasionally share with him some of the really stupid spam things I see. My Conversation With An Idiot Link Broker is one example of this. My view is straight-forward. If you’re so incredibly dumb to be spamming someone who writes about search, on his personal blog much less on his work blog, I feel I’m contributing to evolution by sending your cruddy spam attempt up the Google food chain.

Whether Matt or Google does anything about it is another thing entirely. But it makes me feel better, and I know we both get the occasional laugh about it.

Now to shed some more light on the spam situation, I get probably around 50 or more spam drops per day. Virtually all of this is nabbed by Spam Karma. The automated spam, I don’t bother reporting. I don’t even see it, unless I go looking in my logs. Instead, it’s the creative spam that attracts my attention.

In a post yesterday, I got this comment:

Thanks for the post; it has proven to be exactly what I needed.

Yes, my post about the Balboa Boardwalk I’m sure was exactly what this person named “Custom Essays” really wanted.

Other examples are people who take a comment from a post, do a slight rewrite to make it seem in context with the post, but still insert a spam drop along the way.

These isolated cases, I’m fairly sure there’s some human being who is actually using the form, spending a little time to assess the situation. So I’m hoping the Beware Of Dog sign might deter them.

Wish you had a line direct into Google to create your own Beware Of Dog sign? You do. Here. I’ll write one up for you:

WARNING! If you spam this blog, we’ll report your link drop to Google, which may result in your site being penalized or dropped from search listings. Are you really sure you want to take that risk?

That link leads to the official Google spam reporting tool. Anyone can use it. Try it yourself, if you want to feel better, perhaps empowered in some way.

Now, I’m not naive. This isn’t going to stop spam on the blog, any more than a Beware Of Dog sign might prevent a home from being robbed. But it’s another deterrent, easy to implement, so why not?

What about people who might spam your blog to try and get other sites in trouble? You know, they drop someone else’s link?

You know, that’s not that common. Any spam drop I’ve looked at, it’s pretty clear the site getting the link ain’t that hot. There’s always exceptions, and I think people can have a pretty good sense of what should be reported or not. And if they get that wrong, it’s not like Google’s going to instantly wipe someone out without looking for clues themselves.


  1. says

    I have been thinking that akismet and other spam capture services should send their data over to Google for punishment. Alternatively, what if the comments area on a page was called out with some kind of tag that made Google lower the significance of that content?

  2. says

    I love it. I think I’m going to use your “WARNING! If you spam this blog…” notice. We’ve taken care of Robot Spam but haven’t made a dent in the Human variety; this may make a big difference.

    It reminds me of a trick a policeman told my mother when she was getting obscene phone calls. The officer told her that when she got a call she should tap the receiver a couple of times and say: “Operator, this is the call that I’d like you to trace”. She did it once and she never got a call again.

  3. says

    That is a bit absurd. Most the people reading that message are actual readers, spammers won’t take the time to read it.

    @Seth Gottlieb
    I like that idea. Does google have an API that can be hit automatically to report spam? It would be trivial to build that functionality into the akismet plugin for wordpress for instance if such an API existed.

  4. says

    Maybe a shorter message (like the “WARNING! If you spam this blog…” notice) that was made to visually stand out more would address your criticism.

  5. says

    This can be trouble to some people, because some people might be using this to play nasty with their competitors using their links and names to spam your blog or other using this warning hoping you will report the links

    I personally don’t think it’s necessary to have “Don’t Spam Me Sign”, since Akismet is smart enough to determine which are legitimate comments comments and which are not, if they are spams, they will be put inside Spam folder…

    I just check “Automatically discard spam comments on posts older than a month”.

    Or check “Automatically close comments on articles older than (certain days)”


  6. says

    Bucabay, as I explained, most of the spam that does get through usually is someone who seems to have used the actual comment box. I think they will notice. We’ll see. So far, one day, no spam.

    Abi, as I said, I use Spam Karma which is actually better than Akismet (I’ve used that before, too). Both are smart, but a tiny amount still gets through, usually that which is done through humans.

  7. says

    @Danny Sullivan – What I meant is that the ratio of manual spammers to legitimate readers is insignificant. It’s like walking into those convenience stores with a one paragraph notice meant for shoplifters on the entrance when there are security cameras all around. It seems to imply to anyone walking in that this is bad neighborhood and you should get the hell out.

  8. says

    Spam will stop when links stop have the weight within search, and I don’t think that is going to happen soon.

    This one has worried away in my head for the last year or so. If you starting a search engine today would you really want to have links as the main factor in ranking?

    My answer to that is not really, but then what are the main measurements to use? Traffic? Time on page? The big problem with search currently is that all bar one area can be manipulated – the one that can’t is content, good well written content. And that last is down to how well Bing and Goo can read and understand good material…

    I don’t hold out much hope for change anytime soon.

  9. says


    ummm, I’ve got good news for you. It’s already changed (and has been for some time now). There are “nofollow” directives you can add to links that tell spiders not to use the links for spidering/ranking. If you will read the article you will see that Danny is already using the nofollow directive (added automatically to all the links in his comment areas).

  10. says

    Heh, makes me think of my aunt, she’s never owned a dog, but has the sign up. Whenever anyone comes to the door she fake barks. Although I do have to say that your fake bark has a bit more bite to it. 😉

  11. says

    I knew that Danny would get the joke about my comment, and to not have a website listed was counter intuitive to what “spraise” would be about wouldn’t it?
    @rishil, you rock..

  12. Media Baldwin says

    @Stephen Akins

    It reminds me of a trick a policeman told my mother when she was getting obscene phone calls. The officer told her that when she got a call she should tap the receiver a couple of times and say: “Operator, this is the call that I’d like you to trace”. She did it once and she never got a call again.

    I LOVE this story!

  13. says

    Seriously hilarous and well-done. I have two blogs and and also manage many of my client’s blogs (we are an online marketing and PR agency and do a ton of online branding management). I love what you added here for people that love to link spam. They are just so ridiculous. They suppose blog owners are just dummies and will approve anything. Honestly, blogs are meant to be personal journals/opinions where people are meant to comment on editorial. Also, let’s talk about the brains of these link spammers. They think just because a blog doesn’t talk about online marketing that the owner is a dummy – guess what – its their online agency that’s managing their blog!!! If you don’t mind, Danny, I would love to use your paragraph on my blog. Also, I am happy to do a link exchange with you if interested or I’ll catch up with you on Twitter.Facebook….