What do you do with valid comments that have commercial links?

You probably get these a lot of times. Some posts a valid comment, with well-thought out and substantial paragraphs. But when you check the author name and link, it’s a link to a commercial site, using keywords meant for search optimization. Some of these get caught by the spam filter, but some are approved. You tell yourself there’s no worry, because you use rel=nofollow anyway. But if your comment policy (if you have one) prohibits outright advertisements, your readers might start to wonder.

You probably get two to three paragraphs with good arguments, but signed as “buy used cars” or “bank loans” or whatnot. With a blog as big as Performancing, this can become a big headache.

What do you do with valid comments that have commercial links? You can either:

  1. Remove the URL, leaving out the name;
  2. Unpublish or delete the entire comment; or,
  3. Leave it be, making sure you have rel=nofollow turned on.

Deleting the entire comment is probably the easiest option, since it just involves one click. Editing out the URL is a bit more complicated, since it involves editing the comment and manually setting the URL field blank. Perhaps there should be an option or plugin on blogging platforms to nuke the URL field in one click, but leaving the contents intact.

And then there’s the question of your threshold for commercial links. What exactly does constitute a commercial link that you’d rather delete? What if the link were relevant to the post you made? For instance, if you post about viruses and malware, and someone from a known antivirus company posts a valid tip, with a link back to his site, what do you do?

Again, dealing with a couple of these would probably be easy, but if you are faced with dozens or hundreds per day, it can get tedious, and you want something automated. Most anti-spam plugins are either a go or no go, meaning you can get them to publish or kill a comment depending on certain characteristics. I’d like to see something like publish the comment but not the link.

Of course, you can just hide the contents of the URL field, but that would not be fair to valid comment posters and readers interested in checking out commenters’ sites.

What’s your general rule on these kind of comments?

27 thoughts on “What do you do with valid comments that have commercial links?

  1. It is very important to check it manually so as to see whether cmments are more relaevant or links, but i think it is better to keep thise comments which are adding some valuable points to the post.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. You know spam comments if the name is replaced with keywords. It is really a risk. Remove the URL option and people may stop commenting. By commenting they share ideas and did you know they actually help your site to be seen in google with the help of their comments? So think think think..

  3. if the comments are adding some value to your post….and if they are relevant and commented from the site which is having good contents and also related to the post then it should not be deleted…because it is adding some value to your site…..

    To avoid spam comments one should go for the Plug ins to get rid of such comments….

  4. I really wouldn’t care if they’re marketing on my blog, as long as they’re contributing to the discussion with really good points. And if the commenter has perfect grammar, he’s more than welcome. Unless it’s like that one story I read where one person started replying to his own comments just to get links, even though he had good comments…

  5. This is my opinion that if the comments are relevant to the topic then it should not be deleted…..because if someone is commenting on it then probably he/she is doing it with some relevancy which he is finding through the topic…..and yes if their are some kinds of comments which are not useful then they automatically gets into the spam filters.

  6. Yes, I read a lot of blogs and hate it when I see the bots come in and post some useless comment. So I’d probably delete it if it was my blog.

    I really don’t mind the basic complement comment (ex. “Thanks for the tip.”) but people do obviously abuse it. The question arises – is it of benefit to the blog owner for these “complement” comments to be posted in the first place. Does it enhance the discussion? Not really. But a lot of readers do appreciate what the blog owner has shared and I don’t see anything wrong with acknowledging that.

  7. This brings up an interesting question, actually. Unless you have some kind of Terms of Use agreement on your blog where you purport to take a license in user comments, I wonder if by removing the URL, you’re committing some kind of copyright violation with respect to adaptation.

    Note: I don’t really know the answer to this question. Just theorizing.

  8. “the delete button is our best weapon ”
    It is far easier to destroy than to create: take your big scissors and start cutting everything, implement toughest rules for your visitors, no one would be allowed to do anything without your permittion. As a result you would enjoy a spotless website. Start cutting the links straightaway, mine could be the first.

    Good luck
    enjoy the weekend.

  9. I believe you can just remove a comment link in WP — it may be native functionality or one of the many plugins I have? But, I am not recommending that as the best way to handle it — when in doubt, delete, period. Just because it sounds literate and on-topic, doesn’t mean it’s not a bot. A bot can sniff for a few keywords and drop a prepared scripted response in the comment box, as a kind of bait — you don’t want to delete it, because you like relevant discussion, so you’re tempted to let it slide. So, if you’re a bot writer, you scope out some popular current topic, prepare some standard comments, and send it out there. Let’s say the topic is something like Google’s new Wave — think about it, how hard is it to compose a comment that would sound like it belonged on any one of thousands of current blog posts? It’s devilishly clever social engineering.

    In the beginning, when bots were dumb, they would use a simpler form of social engineering — they would simply say ‘great post’ or some other short, sweet bit of flattery, and it was much harder for the blogger to delete, since it seemed so polite and nice. Nowadays, the bots employ far more sophisticated social engineering, making them hard to delete on a whole different level.

    Sorry to ramble on, it’s just that I study social engineering, and this just reeks of it. To test my theory, you could always take an excerpt of the comment, enclose it in quotes, and google for that exact phrase. If it comes up more than once, you’ve for sure got a bot.

    So why should you delete rather than just remove a link? Well, because it’s better if you don’t let them win, no matter how appealing they are. Be merciless. Since we can’t chop up comment spammers in little pieces and feed them to homeless puppies, the delete button is our best weapon

  10. I agree. Some comments with these marketing or sales links can get really annoying. There are some that are tolerable while there are some that could be quite useful too. It’s really up to the admin or site moderators if they allow these posts. It’s a tough call but someone’s gotta make it.

  11. In my opinion,I think I’ll just leave it be, making sure you have rel=nofollow turned on. Some spammers exert extra effort just to post comment to your page so I’ll just consider it.

  12. If the comment is good, or have a nice thought then i will not delete it but when it’s unreasonable so why waste the page of my comment box I will totally delete them.

  13. “…someone from a known antivirus company posts a valid tip, with a link back to his site, what do you do?” — are you kidding me?

    If someone posts a valid tip that is useful to my readers, why on earth do I not allow my readers to benefit from such a tip, and why on earth do I not allowed a link back to his site?

  14. Depends on how good the content is. Sometimes i delete the link and keep the content.
    Sometimes I remove the keywords.

    But then, again I sell links myself, so I can spot them easily.

  15. I take the view that the internet has grown up as a medium that is often transactional – you give me your email address and I will give you a short ebook. If someone takes the time to read a post and leave a thoughtful, substantial comment, then I consider it fair to allow them to leave a link. Keyword stuffing is a different matter and my policy states that I will deleted the post if people do. Links are useful in SEO for more than just ranking on specific terms and the pros know that. They are happy to receive links without the anchor text.

  16. As long as there is a good comment I do not find it bad to advertise with the link left there. But if someone only comes there to leave the link, then the comment must be deleted directly.

  17. I allow comments if they are genuine comments and not too spammy. Too spammy it a moveable feast — but you know it when you see it.

    I’ve noticed some spammers use ambiguous words which COULD be read as a genuine comment in just about any context, but doesn’t really add any value.

  18. If the comment is a good well thought out comment, I’ll leave the comment, link and all unless the site it links to is offensive. My philosophy is that the commentor is doing me a favor by leaving a good comment, so I’ll return it.

    I use a do-follow after x days plugin, so it gives me a chance to evaluate a link before passing on any juice.

  19. I generally let them slide through without editing them however I’m receiving a big surge lately. I’m considering removing the URL field in the comment form to see if that makes a difference.

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