There’s a certain kind of spam that bloggers get, which is mostly invisible to non-bloggers. So many people may not recognize it as spam, for lack of experience. Let me describe it for you.
The end goal of the spammer is to create links back to a website. I don’t pretend to know how their business model works, but I’d speculate that these spammers are paid by some website to boost their search rankings. The websites are generally disreputable shoestring budget operations, filled with plagiarism, AI-generated text, and other nonsense, and absolutely do not deserve to have their search rankings boosted.
The most common way to create links is by leaving comments. I get about 30 spam comments a day, but I never look at them because WordPress has a very effective spam filter. Many comments don’t bother trying to trick you, they’re straight up ads. Other comments are generic “I loved reading this!” type stuff, with a profile link back to the target website. Perhaps it’s no wonder that cranky old bloggers like me don’t appreciate generic praise.
But I also get e-mails. The most common type of e-mail asks me if I’m interested in publishing a sponsored article. Others offer a “guest post”. Some will suggest a cooperative link exchange, or suggest a link that is relevant to a topic that you’ve blogged about.
Some of the e-mails try to sound personal, but it’s really obvious that they are bot operations. Here’s why: I’m on a blogging network. Suppose Abe Drayton writes about climate change. The spammer finds this article in a search, and then sends an e-mail to everyone on the network saying “I see you wrote an article about climate change. I would like to suggest a relevant link to our website.” The website in question is probably filled with plagiarized articles on every topic, and like a million ads.
I assume. I’ve briefly looked at a few of these websites, but it’s inadvisable to do even that. It’s a computer security risk.
I recently had an example of this where the spammer identified a broken link, and then suggested a replacement link to their own website. It sounds like helpful feedback from a reader, but the suggested link was not an acceptable substitute, and I consider it malicious.
Of course, bloggers also get Nigerian prince scams and other spam of indecipherable nature. I mostly mention this because it’s amusing, but you know how my other blog has an email address asexualagenda? I recently got an e-mail saying “I’m writing to you in connection to the Mr. Edward Alagenda trusteeship, I’ve been trying to get in touch with his family”. Yep that’s me, Asexu Alagenda, where can I send a deposit to receive my inheritance?
Even if you’re not in a position to receive spam like this, you should learn to recognize the disreputable websites that they link back to. For example, Rebecca Watson recently reacted to an article talking some nonsense about millennials and boomers. I followed the link, and I put some of the text into a search engine. Behold, this article had been plagiarized from a 2019 article in Insider (which was also bad, but at least written honestly). The plagiarized article had been linked from Reddit, so I don’t think Watson was wrong to talk about it. But she should have replaced it with a link to the original, and not boosted a disreputable website.
I was able to immediately recognize this because, yes, I have been plagiarized by such websites. I get notified of this because whenever I link to myself, the plagiarized articles also link back to me. Gosh, maybe I should link to myself even more often, boost my SEO.
Okay, another amusing example. As part of my role aggregating links for The Asexual Agenda, I subscribe to Google Alerts. Some of the alerts have a lot of WTF in them, which I journal on my sideblog. Some are from websites that were obviously AI-generated–and not good AI, it’s total garbage AI. Some fun excerpts:
Asexuapty may also be named ace (a phonetic shortening of “asexual”), whereas a nearby is normally described as the ace city, by scientists or asexuals.
If you are the girl household members grew up which have sensuous superstars plastered more than its bed room walls, Vivienne’s have been shielded from inside the pets and you will surface.
“It’s simply the way in which you’re, just like individuals are gay, upright, bisexual, pansexual.”
My guess is that they’re plagiarizing some real article and putting it through google translate a bunch of times to obscure that fact.
Stay safe, friends.
When I saw the title, the first thing that came to my mind was “Please stand by for a demonstration of relevancy.” (warning for the language at the link) which is a classic case for how a PR firm should not handle ‘cold calls’ to bloggers.
Perfect Number says
This is so real! I too get emails that are like “I love your blog, so insightful [generic things that sound like they didn’t read it at all] can we publish a guest post about sports medicine [???? or some other topic I have never written about]”. I haven’t actually clicked through to any of these spammers’ sites to see if they are all plagiarized, but yeah, that wouldn’t surprise me.
I haven’t gotten a Nigerian prince email though. Best of luck to the Alagenda family’s lawyers looking for their lost heir.
I got a handful of those “I love your blog” comments when I was a newbie on FtB, but not for quite a while now.
In my regular e-mail, I’ve lately been getting tons of spam addressed to somebody named Laurena. It’s so obviously bogus that I’m amazed that anybody falls for it. They must be getting clicks, though.