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Penis Enlargements and the Problem with Comment Subscriptions

A few months back I installed a WordPress plugin that allowed readers to tick a box when leaving a comment to be notified via email when more comments on that post came in.

The idea behind the plugin is a great one – it extends the conversation on posts beyond their normal period of time (usually as long as the post appears on the front page of the blog).

The only problem with the plugin is that it reports to anyone who subscribes to the comment thread not only legitimate comments but any comment spam that you might get.

I have pretty good comment spam filters that pick up the vast majority of spam at ProBlogger, but I have an ongoing problem with Penis Enlargement comment spam. It is not a large problem (no pun intended) as only the occasional comment gets through – but every time they do get through I find myself wondering how many readers who might have subscribed to that thread are getting notified that my blog is being spammed (complete with a title that doesn’t really help my blog’s reputation).

I’m unsure what to do at this stage – I’ve only had a couple of readers mention it so far in passing (in fact I’m unsure how many are using the subscription plugin at all) but it’s not really too good for business.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Blacklist any comments with the word “penis” (and alternative words) in them….

  2. The penis mightier than the sword.

    Yeah, that’s going to work…..

    I personally don’t subscribe to comments because it tends to get very ugly very fast; right now I get over 100 messages a day with comments in them, just from one blog! Multiply that by Gawd knows how many blogs I read, and it becomes a nightmare.

    Subscribing to blog posts has pretty much been solved using RSS; I suspect that using comments RSS, if the feed reader and the browser can be better integrated, might be a possible solution.

  3. Why not have word verifications? You know those things where it prints out a random word/number in an image (so spam bots cant read it) and you type exactly what you see. I think this is a great way to block junk.

  4. You should filter out comments with words like “penis” in it because even if it’s not spam, it’s probably not important enough to send to all the subscribers.

  5. Start convincing every body to use something like co.mments.com to keep track of the comments they want to track. I love them.

  6. Evan Wired says: 03/05/2006 at 1:34 pm

    Since you’re using WordPress, why not use Akismet (akismet.com)?

  7. Well, I haven’t seen anything. I rarely post, but I love the email notifications of replies. Don’t get rid of them. :-P

  8. I totally recommend Akismet.

  9. Buy a commercial license to Akismet.

  10. Why?
    Thanks to your blog, not only I did increase my AdSense revenue, but also gained 2 valuable inches!

    Heh, on a more serious note: Darren, I am sorry to have let my faith in you vacillate. Reading the title of this post in Bloglines, I thought the “make money online” keywords weren’t doing too well lately and you had to find a way and stick “Penis enlargement” somewhere on ProBlogger.

  11. Wow, I was a bit surprised when I saw the title of this post, Darren. Good use of it to grab attention. I hope you figure out the commenting problems.

  12. I always tick notify me of future comments but I never seem to get them (check junk folder), maybe its just as well…

  13. I’m amazed your contextual ads for this post didn’t go horribly wrong, given the title. :)

    Also, another alternative is coComment, though its a bit nerdier then the nice, easy email option.

  14. Holy crap, Darren – I thought somebody hacked into your server with that title … :-)

    I too love the email notifications – don’t get rid of it. With ProB 99.9% of the email are good, just the odd spam gets through.

    The Akismet plugin has caught 100% of my spam so far (712 of them).

  15. I can’t recommend Akismet enough. It does a wonderful job of spam control. So far no false positives, and only one or two spam comments that sneaked in.

    Someone added this post to co.mments four hour ago. I just saw it on the main page. So here’s another way to keep track of this conversation, sans the spam.

  16. I only scan the RSS feeds and usually come by and read everything – but, only respond to a few of the entries. When I do respond, I am one who ticks the box so I can read follow the conversation outside your pages. So, I get incoming emails and even though I look at all the new comments (real or spam) .. my eye tends to just ignore the spam. In fact, I can’t remember EVER seeing any penis enlargement spam on the posts that I am subscribed to.. although I have seen many cialix and phetermine spam comments plus a few with about 100 links in them.

    Also – it’s not like it’s a total shock or anything … Spam happens. As a blogger, it’s not like it’s something new or anything like that … most of the bloggers here are also probably used to it too.

    As a Sidenote .. that akismet actually works well I’ve noticed .. I was surprised. I still seem to be gettting spam on “pages” though and haven’t figured out a way to stop it, even though the template has been adjusted to remove that option, the “page” doesn’t have comments enabled, and stuff like that. I get more peeved at that type of spam.

  17. I don’t know which anti-spam plugins you are currently using, but IO Error’s bad behavior ensures that none of that kind of junk ever gets through on any of my blogs.

  18. +1 on Michele’s comment. The recommended spam solution is Akismet combined with Bad Behavior. Absolutely a Godsend.

  19. i just blacklist everything that has “penis” in it since i had the exact same problem with these…(no pun)


  20. I totally agree with the akismet. Man, that really curbed the comment spam on my blog.

  21. you can also offer a comment-feed per post. just add /feed/ to the uri, that’s all.

    something like:
    You can keep track of new comments to this post with the comments feed.

    For example:

  22. Marco .. that’s a very tedious task to do and your feed count that people are watching would grow exponentially. You should try using what I use – in addition to the Subscribe to comments …
    I see all the comments on all posts that I don’t even comment on. I just might not look at it in real time or regularly, but I always scan the entire feed. It’s interesting to see posts the REALLY early posts every once in a while.

  23. […] Penis Enlargements and the Problem with Comment Subscriptions At the riisk of offense with this headline, this one is important for the way we do business online. (tags: rss marketing blogosphere blogging comments) Bookmark on del.icio.us […]

  24. @HART: sure the standard feed comments works as well but some people don’t want to keep track of all comments. But putting a bit of scripting in the post you can create such a specific comment-feed per post in a simple way.

    It’s easier than handling comments by email, must faster ;)

  25. @Marco .. I can understand, and realize everybody has their own preferences. Sure I would prefer RSS feed than email, but I use Bloglines. I would have to subscribe, initially sort, and ultimately delete the feed as my feeds would be growing (not to mention be on the bloglines website, whereas my email is always up). Very time consuming. What I do for all my comment subscriptions, I create an email filter to go directly into my Spamnix folder (Eudora). It sorts by subject so I first delete the crap, and leave the “[ProBlogger Blog Tips] New Comment On:” and scan the comments. As, I just saw your post, it works for me and that’s my preference. In a few minutes, or hours, or tomorrow, I will transfer my Spamnix folder to Trash. I only delete my trash every few months, just in case.

    But, I’m sure eventually there will be some super-duper comment plugin created sometime that has live comment preview, subscription to email, RSS feeds, and even spell check and goodies we probably haven’t thought of yet.

  26. in my opinion RSS feeds are best to keep you up-to-date. why use email if you can have a feed?

  27. Moderate your posts.

  28. […] PS: just be aware that if you get a lot of unmoderated comment spam it can be a little embarrassing to have this feature – I learned the hard way. […]

  29. I think you should not worry too much about the comments, since the word in the comments actually will give you more traffic to your blog.

    I will advice you to go in ocationally and delete that comments that you suppose do not contribute to your good traffic and let those others stay.

    All spam is actually not bad spam. Some of it can give you more traffic. And some of it you can have some fun with.

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