Spam Cracker – Re-use Your Spam

Offer Closed

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One of the things that we all have to face every day is spam. This is my solution for removing it from all your blogs.

I’ve used various tools over the years to deal with spam and one of the good ones was Akismet and I’ll continue to use it even though it’s now a paid service. But I’ve always thought there had to be a better way of dealing with blog spam.

Logging into a site for the first time in a couple of months only to find 800 comments waiting to be reviewed isn’t my ideal way of spending my time, and what I’d usually do is just delete the lot. Page after page of them – it can take ages.

TIP: Did you know that if you’re on the comments page and click the “Screen Options” tab next to the “Help” at the top right, you see an option to control how many comments are displayed on that admin page?  By default it’s set to a stupidly low 20, but you can change it to 999 and that saves a heck of a lot of time. You get the same option on the posts and pages admin too. No more time wasting clicking through loads of pages.

Anyway. One day I got to wondering if there was a way to take advantage of all that automated effort that someone was making and turn it instead to my own advantage.

Turn the tables so to speak.

I wanted a way of (for some blogs) being able to leave comment moderation OFF so that comments always got auto approved – it makes the blog look busier and people who see a busy blog leave real comments. But I didn’t want any of the potentially spammy backlinks in those comments to be displayed. Or to have spammy keywords showing either. I’m sure you know the ones I mean.  ;-)

And that’s when Spam Cracker was born.

What it does is when ANY comment comes into your blog, it temporarily replaces any links with your own taken from a list at random. It also replaces any spammy words with your own, again taken from a list at random.

That means that all the spam comments start pointing to links that you decide, and all the keywords are converted to words that are relevant to your blog. Yes it will mean that sentences sometimes won’t make any sense, but it’s far better than the alternative.

But the most important thing is it will seem that visitors are commenting and leaving behind on-topic keywords and links that point to your own sites.

(You could even use your OWN affiliate links for some of them and occasionally earn a commission from it.)

The search engines would then see plenty of commenting activity which they see as a positive social indicator for the amount of activity on your blog.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, social indicators of this nature seem to be the direction Google is going in its pursuit of giving people the best search results. The way I see it, lots of commenters using similar keywords on your posts is a good social indicator for the keywords being used.

You with me?  ;-)

We’ve also added an option to remove URLs in comments on posts older than n days. Typically my own spam comes in on older posts, so setting this value to say 14 days will stop any URLs from being added to those older posts.  (Really that’s an option that should have been in core WP, so I thought it made sense to fix that.)

If a genuine person makes a comment (you can usually tell), then you can choose to manually approve the URLs in that one comment and they’ll revert back to the original links left by the commenter.

And finally, we added in a nice little idea we got from Akismet.

Each user URL (the one the commenter types in when leaving a comment) in your admin panel has a little x next to it so you can quickly just remove the URL if you want to.

Tomorrow at 6.00pm GMT (1.00pm EST) I’m running an introductory 48 hour sale starting at just $10 for the first 50 copies.

The Spam Cracker plugin is one you should definitely consider having in your arsenal for use on all your sites.

I’ll drop you an email when the sale starts.

-Frank Haywood


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20 Comments

  1. Olaf says:

    Hey Frank,

    this sounds like a good plugin, i will wait for it tomorrow ;-)

    regards
    Olaf

    P.S.: hey Frank, have you take a time and a look for the wordpress manager plugin what i have ask you some time, because i think it will be good to have it, for all blogs,

    • Frank Haywood says:

      Hi Olaf,

      Cool thank you. :)

      I talked to a very competent programmer about the WP blog manager and he green lighted it as a joint venture, I registered the domain we agreed on and the guy hasn’t come back to me, he’s just disappeared…

      However Paul Freedman (the brilliant programmer who created SmartDD) is back on the scene and I’ll ask him about it. But it will most likely be at least 3 months before anything is done about it as he’s working on two other projects at the moment (SDD v4 and Mascot Mojo). But it’s such a good idea that we *will* do something about this, whether it’s a plugin or a service.

      -Frank

      • Olaf says:

        HI Frank,

        nice to hear about this, and of course i will wait for this,
        and of course i will test it when it is ready,

        and btw when you ever need some tester for some product, i am here ;-)

        Olaf

        • Frank Haywood says:

          Hi Olaf,

          In that case, I’ll be asking you to test out the new version of SmartDD when it’s ready. :-)

          -Frank

  2. Pol says:

    I’m in. Heck, that one tip about the screen options will save me more time than the price of admission. I never even noticed. Dohhhh!

    • Frank Haywood says:

      Hi Pol,

      I’m glad you liked that, it IS a huge time saver. I guess I have lots of those things knocking about in my head and don’t give them a thought until they come up at the right moment. ;-)

      -Frank

  3. Annie says:

    This really looks promising can’t wait for your launch. Thanks
    Annie (UK)

    • Frank Haywood says:

      Hi Annie,

      Great and thank you for our comment, we’re just about to do the documentation for it. There’s a few additions I want to make to this plugin, so when you get it let me know what you think and I’ll get everything done at once.

      See you later. :)

      -Frank

  4. j says:

    Hi Frank,

    I am an old happy customer, like your ideas
    and your software performance.

    Just wondering if you could provide a dev.
    license option.

    Thanks,

    J.

  5. Ooooh, thank you, Frank! I get so tired of paging through scheduled posts to find one I want to edit. Displaying them all at once is a great idea. Your tip will help a lot! Thanks again. —Kathleen

    • Frank Haywood says:

      Hi Kathleen,

      You’re welcome. Why didn’t they make 999 pages the default rather than make people scroll through umpteen pages and have to wait each page?

      Crazy. :roll:

      -Frank

  6. So now I am tempted to turn off Akismet or other spam filters for new or slow blogs to reuse all spam. Do you ever do that? Good idea? Bad idea?

    I worry nowadays about bad neighborhoods affecting my sites. Is reusing spam comments completely safe?

    Thanks!

    Kathleen

    • Frank Haywood says:

      Hi Kathleen,

      Now it’s here I’m installing Spam Cracker on some of my niche blogs that I don’t visit very often and turning off comment moderation.

      As long as you filter out some of the clearly spammy keywords like “make money” “forex” “seo software” and replace them with keywords related to your blog like “coffee grinders” “internet business” “puppy dogs” or whatever, then I can only imagine that the search engines will see keywords related to your blog in the comments and make a fairly safe assumption that your commenters are “real people” leaving relevant comments on your blog. It’s a social indicator.

      The links themselves you’re replacing with your own anyway. They could be to other sites or maybe better still to other posts or pages on the same site, so it would then look like people are referring to pages on your site in their comments.

      My other thoughts on this and I guess I’ll never know as I use StatCounter for my analytics is that if you use Google Analytics on your site and so enable G to see what’s going on, then my *guess* is this will be an even bigger social indicator as G would directly see this interlinking of pages going on by your visitors who are coming in on lots of different IP addresses. I would then *guess* that the multitude of IP addresses would lend credibility to the comments.

      We’ll never know for sure and I’d never claim it as a fact, but it seems like a reasonable assumption to me and I can’t see any obvious holes in that logic.

      I can’t see why re-using spam comments if you’ve changed crucial keywords and links to ones you’re happy with, to be dangerous in any way.

      I won’t be using Spam Cracker on this blog to answer your unasked question though. I visit it fairly regularly and Akismet seems to soak up 95% of spam correctly – I check every so often. While it doesn’t always get it right it’s good enough I guess.

      Part of being in the IM niche is that you sometimes get marked as a spammer when you’re not, so every so often I have to retrieve some genuine customer comments from the spam list.

      -Frank

  7. It all makes sense. My concern is that if Google can still see the origin IP, and that is one they consider a “bad neighborhood” that my sites will be penalized.

    Since Google is now penalizing us for incoming links from bad sites, which we have no control over, it makes me worried.

    Of course, much of the spam today is in pingbacks (?) from spammy sites linking to my posts. Deleting them when they appear in the comment listings will not delete the original links. I guess reusing them is better than nothing.

    I wish Google would back off this business of penalizing us for links we cannot control. —Kathleen

    • Frank Haywood says:

      Hi Kathleen,

      “Since Google is now penalizing us for incoming links from bad sites, which we have no control over, it makes me worried.”

      Since when? Sounds like a super easy way to take down a competitors site really cheaply. $50 spent on Fiverr should do it. ;-) :roll:

      There’s a whole new business model right there for the black hatters. “We will kill your competitors web sites, guaranteed!” would be the ad I imagine.

      -Frank

  8. David Foard says:

    G’day Frank – from Australia… I must be missing something here Frank.

    Purchased Spam Cracker and installed it on two of my blogs. Noticed that the “An administrator must always approve the comment” was turned off and the “A comment is held for moderation” is also off now. I made the settings as suggested and waited…

    Are you saying that I should switch off Akismet as well? because 48 comments have now been added to my Spam Queue but no changes have been made to them at all?

    Or are you saying I should still manually go through the spam and only IF I SAY THEY ARE NOT SPAM will the automatic changes be made?

    I’m so disappointed as I thought this was going to be a fully Automatic process.

    Does Spam Cracker also automatically delete the Spam Author’s email? Is there anyway it could also change the Author’s name to a random name we set? You know a spam message from “Nice Escorts” would look a lot better if it was from “Nancy or Elizabeth”. You get the idea.

    At the moment everything seems to be disapproved even if they do NOT have links in the comment.

    It must be me – Or is it?

    Please explain….

    Dave

    • Frank Haywood says:

      Hi David,

      It’s all automatic yes. If Akismet is on then spam comments will get put in the spam. It doesn’t remove email addresses. In the admin panel you won’t see any changes to the comments as you may need to check out links on comments that you’re not sure are spam or not. I get some genuine customer comments put into spam and if I spot them I unspam them.

      So if these are niche blogs you don’t often visit but you get a lot of spam that you’d like to be (ahem) reworked to your advantage, turn off Akismet and manual comment approval and watch the comments appear against your posts with all links stripped out and replaced with your own, and all unsavoury keywords stripped out and replaced with your own too.

      You might go through a little learning period while you see what works best but I’m sure you’ll be happier with busy looking blogs and links that you control than just seeing all comments disappear altogether. ;)

      As I’ve said I wouldn’t use Spam Cracker on my main blogs that I visit regularly as I’m pretty much on top of them anyway.

      I REALLY like your idea of renaming the spammer too, so I’ll get that change put in ASAP. If there’s any other changes you need or think would be good then please let me know.

      -Frank

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