Archives for spam

Got a Troll? Tips for responding to comments?

Social Media TrollThe more active your Facebook page gets the more comments and wall posts you are likely to get.  The big question is: how to reply?

  1. Always reply!
    Unless the comment is just a quick “Thank you”, you should pretty much always respond. This does not mean that you have to write a full reply, sometimes giving the comment a “like” is sufficient.
  2. Don’t delete.
    It is generally a bad idea to delete any comment or wall post, even if it is negative. People will tend to think that you are avoiding an issue and will make a bigger deal out of deleting a comment than if you just respond.  The only time you should delete a comment is if it is truly inappropriate, like porn or hate speech. If you do delete a comment that was in a discussion thread, I would recommend making a comment in the thread that addresses the deletion and why you did it.

Those are the two golden rules of managing your comments, but obviously there is more to it than that.

Comments tend to be one of four types:

  • Positive
  • Constructive Criticism
  • Negative
  • Spam

Positive Comments: These are usually praising your brand or your product. The person is commenting on the value you bring to their consumer experience. These are really important to respond to. This is how you build brand loyalty. Thank the person for the comment and try to add some additional value, like a fact relating to their comment – or tip them off to some exciting developments.

Constructive Criticism: This might be negative feedback but it is usually in an area that can be improved, like customer service or an issue with the product. Consider these as opportunities for flexing your customer service muscle. You can take the feedback and expand it to an email to help resolve their issue. Or if there is a solution, you can tell them how it is being addressed and thank them for bringing it to your attention.  When you address the criticism head on, you are also building brand loyalty. It shows the person that you value their opinion.

Negative: These comments are usually from a bad personal experience.  It can be an opportunity to remedy the situation if possible, or at least apologize. You may not gain a new friend, but it will smooth out the situation and show other people that you are invested in the customer/client experience with your brand.  Plus, if one person had an unsatisfactory experience there is a good chance that others have as well, but aren’t telling you.

Spam: This is pretty much the one thing you can delete without the worry of getting pushback from your fan base.  In fact, most will appreciate you moderating comments and getting rid of the spam; it will show that you care about the content on your page.


Someone said this really bad thing about you…Twitter Phishing Scam

Phishing on TwitterIf you have a Twitter account then you have likely gotten and DM that is trying to phish your account. Right now there is one main phishing scam that seems to being plaguing most people on Twitter and is wearing a number of different faces. What has been making this scam so successful is that it is appealing to peoples sense of personal privacy and curiosity.

Have you received one of these:

Is this you in this blog? …http://tiny.ul/847IN6

There is a really bad picture of you in this blog… http://tiny.ul/847IN6

There is a really bad video of you… http://tiny.ul/847IN6

Why did you say that about me in that blog?…http://tiny.ul/847IN6

Why did you post that bad photo of me?…http://tiny.ul/847IN6

Someone said this really bad thing about you…http://tiny.ul/847IN6

So you get the idea. The content of the DM is designed to make you curious or to make you feel as though someone might be threatening your online privacy. For many people their need to protect their online reputation overrides the need to be cautious of unfamiliar links.

When you click the link it takes you to a site that looks like your Twitter login. When you enter your information you have just given your login and password to the hackers and then they send out that same DM to every person you follow.

Because they are sending it to all your followers the chance that they will click the link is better, because it is coming from a trusted source…you.  Though currently they are only sending out DMs, if they have access to your account they could also use it to post tweets. Those tweets could contain links with viruses, or send them to spam sites, or just be generally inappropriate.

If you do click the link, change your password immediately and post a tweet that tells your followers that you got phished and to ignore any DMs.

Play it on the safe side, don’t click any links you don’t know.

Validating your Spam

Spam being cut with a knife

Are you sending spam before you even know the person?

Finally, a good use for True Twit Validation! As you may know, I do not like True Twit Validation. In my opinion it is the most commonly accepted form of Twitter spam. However, today I received a True Twit email that actually made good use of the application.


True Twit advertises itself as helping you ward off spammers, and keeping your DMs and newsfeed free of spam bots. However, the only way it will do this is if you auto-follow people back.  You cannot receive DMs from people you don’t follow, and only people  you follow are in your timeline. So now are  you sending an unwanted DM to the person who is trying to follow you – thus you are essentially blocking their follow, and being annoying for no real reason?

But there’s a change. I received a True Twit email that said:

Please verify your Twitter account so they can follow afterwards.

That little bit at the end was the first time I felt a validation email gave me some reason to reply. If you auto-follow people back, you are ensuring that you do not auto-follow bots. However, you are now giving the person a reason to validate because you are promising a follow back.

I still think that True Twit is spam. I still think that no one should use it and the only reason most people do is because they get really tired of filling out the stupid CAPTCHAs. There are still many people out there who will never fill out the validation and would rather not follow you than go to True Twit. So even if you are using it to vet your auto-follows, you are still propagating spam.  If you are willing to start off a Twitter relationship with spam, will they believe that you will continue to send spam for as long as they follow you?

If you really need to vet all the people you follow, use a tool like which lets you do that without clogging their email boxes with spam.

Tagging Photos: Engagement or Spam?

Facebook has made a bunch of changes to their tags.  First, you can shorten them. Second, you don’t need the @ symbol. Now, you can tag Fan Pages in pictures.  Wait –  did I read that right?  Yes!  Facebook is now allowing you to tag Fan Pages in pictures.

Tag SpamWhen Facebook launched the upgraded Fan Page, they significantly improved their ability to engage. You could use Facebook as your Fan Page identity. You could write on walls and comment on the posts of other Fan Pages. You can even Like other Fan Pages. But you could not tag another page in a picture.

For Fan Pages that post a lot of pics, this was actually a hindrance. I manage Fan Pages, and being able to engage with people and other pages on a variety of levels is incredibly important. For many of us who have a professional presence on Facebook, our Fan Page is our public face. So if you are going to tag us, we want you to tag our page.

Photos hold a higher level of engagement for people. Your posts are more likely to been seen and read if there is an image attached. People are just generally more interested in visuals, and more likely to comment on a photo than on a post.

The ability to tag a page in a photo will open up the opportunity for some interesting  marketing strategies, like product placement contests. It will also drive engagement higher. This is because just like tagging in a post, if you tag a photo, that photo will appear on that page’s wall. This will also make it much easier for fans to share photos with pages because they won’t have to upload a pic to their wall; all they  have to do is tag the pic. It is one less step, and that ensures a lot more sharing.

The big concern is abuse. This does open up an opportunity for more spam tagging and generally inappropriate tags. Thankfully, tags can be removed by the original poster. So hopefully tag spam will be monitored by the community.

I am very excited about the ability to tag photos! – The Daily Spam SPAM made a big splash on Twitter last fall. By December, everywhere you looked there was a new For a while the popularity grew so fast that we began to wonder if they were going to be the new Follow Friday? But as I saw more of them being posted, I also began to wonder:

  • Are people actually reading them?
  • Do they have any effect on SEO?
  • Would they actually drive traffic to my site?
  • Do the people posting even realize they are posting?

I gave it a try to see what I thought about it, and one question was answered right away. No, I did not know when they were posting. I would see the occasional re-tweet and thats when I would realize that my went out.

The traffic question did not take long to answer. As more of my stories were being caught in the generator, I watched my traffic sources to see how many billions of people were coming to my site because of this paper. Well, the answer was zero billions. In fact, I was not receiving any traffic from the tweets.

So then I began to wonder if anyone was actually reading them.  I don’t – when I see them come out, they just filter through my newsfeed like other auto-posting spam. The only time I open them is when I see my name mentioned, then I check the story and re-tweet. I don’t usually look at the other stories; about 1 in a 100 times I see one where I actually decide to click the link. I figured if I am not reading them, the likelihood that other people were reading them was pretty slim.

The other issue is auto-content generation. I recently wrote about why auto-blogging is bad – well, is not much different. It automatically pulls content from specified users or keywords and then puts it together in the form of original content.  The author credits are not always right, and if they are wrong there is nothing you can do about it. Once created they are posted to your account, jamming up the timeline with posts.  Usually we call posts that jam up the timeline with content that we ignore spam;  why is this any different? Oh wait, it isn’t!

I read a great post about why is spam, even if it is a non-traditional form. There is plenty of great content out there to share and retweet. Overall I like the concept of being able to put your favorite articles in one location to share with your followers, but I think the execution is a bit of a #fail.

Mistakes I made on Twitter (and what I learned)

Twitter Bird flying with an ebook

Twitter is a great promotional tool. But are you promoting or spamming?

One Monday morning I had about ten minutes before I needed to leave for work, so I thought I would use the time to promote my ebooks on Twitter. I write and sell instruction manuals for WordPress plugins, and yes, I was trying to make a buck.

So I did a quick Twitter keyword search for any tweets close to the description of the ebooks. To any person posing a question about plugins, I would respond with basically the same message: complimenting the plugin I’d written the instruction manual for. I didn’t mention the ebook but I did mention the plugin, over and over and over.

Well, I was in a hurry to get this done, so when I came across a question about a plugin for iOS, I replied, even though I had no idea what ‘iOS’ was. Evidently, I struck a nerve with the young lady I replied to because she started tweeting about my tweets, saying I should be turned in for spam because all I ever talked about was that plugin. She even accused me of being a bot.

Oh no! A thousand thoughts went through my head, “What happens if I’m turned in for spam? Do I lose my account?” Yikes!

So I replied, “Hi, I am not a bot. Just didn’t understand what iOS was. Sorry.”

That soothed her some, and although she fussed in a few more tweets she did let it drop.


But you know what? She was RIGHT!

I was spamming because I did not care about the community, I was only interested in selling my ebooks.

After that, I stopped tweeting for a while and pondered the error of my ways. I did a lot of reading and studying about what makes a good online community and have now come up with a Twitter plan:

  • Define how long the plan will span – 4 weeks – and then reevaluate
  • Determine how many tweets a day to send and when
  • Select specific keywords to target
  • Change the wording – don’t just repeat tweets
  • Use HootSuite to schedule tweets
  • Retweet useful tweets
  • Look for questions I can answer to help others
  • Make 80% of my tweets to help others and only 20% self-promoting

So, thanks to that person for making me take a good look at myself and change. I really like the new “Twitter me”, and I’m sure my fellow tweeters do too.

Deborah Hanchey has a virtual assistance business that specializes in virtual events: webinars, podcasting, screencasting, online tv and radio and WordPress web design. She has also developed a series of ebooks for WordPress plugin users that focus on beginning level support and streamline the installation, configuration and usefulness of the many great WordPress plugins available.

Visit her website at

Follow her on Twitter @DHanchey

My name is John. I am your Spam Bot.

A robot saying: Hello my name is John Bot

Image Credit: Red-Revolver on

Since I started using a contact form instead of an email, I receive a barrage of spam every day.  I have invested some time into figuring out if there was an easy way to stop the spam and keep the form.  I settled on a compromise; keep the form and reduce the spam with a Captcha. However, in my battle with spam, I noticed something about the sender.

My spam bot is named John.

Every piece of spam I get is from John.  Sometimes it is John1 or John2, but it is always John. This is not his email address, but it’s the name that appears in the “From” field.

Who is this John?

  • A play on John Doe, the poster boy of anonymous.
  • On Wikipedia, John Bot is an automated tool used to do repetitive tasks.
  • On World of Warcraft (WoW) Farmer John Bot is an automated tool for auto-leveling.

Apparently John the Spam Bot has many different careers.  But lately he has been most active sending me nonsensical emails through my contact form.

I wonder if other people have spam bots with other names?  Is there something special about me that I have John the Spam Bot paying me such devoted attention? Or does he just get around to everyone’s email box?

Contact Form Spam

A can of spam with robot legs, arms and head

How much of your email is form spam? Is your form driving more contacts or giving bots something to crawl?

I switched over to a contact form a few months ago.  Over the months I have noticed an increase in email contact and an increase in spam, something that I never received before. This left me in a bit of a conundrum. I am glad people are contacting me more frequently. I don’t like the spam.  So I set out to see what I could do to remedy the situation.

Why I use a contact form

  1. Captures information – You decide what  is important to you, like name and website, then incorporate that into your form.
  2. Build an email list – Everytime someone emails you, you are adding to your database of emails.
  3. Always gets to the right person – Sometimes on a business website, when you send an email, you are not always sure it is going to the right person. Or if the email is going to the president or owner, you might be reluctant to email because of the person’s position. The form makes sure that it is going to the right person and removes the intimidation factor.

Since I have started using the contact form over just a simple email address, I have started receiving more emails from people. Whether it be people interested in guest blogging, potential clients or people who want to network. Previously my contact page was my general email address ( but it seems that a general “info” email address is too impersonal. It does not seem like the email is going to a real person, whereas a contact form is directed.

The spam has been driving me crazy!

Say no to Spam

The most common way to eliminate spam is to use a Captcha.



Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart – oh yes, that is what the acronym stands for. Now you know why everyone just calls it Captcha.

How it works –  an image on screen is a combination of letters and/or numbers. You type what you read into a box.  When you submit the text, if it matches the image you are verified.

Problem – Spam bots can now use this too. It was only a matter of time before spam bots would figure out how to recognize the letters and numbers. So this is no longer a foolproof way around spam, because bots are spydering the forms and getting around the Captcha. Many people find them to be annoying and frustrating, so you might have people who do not email you because of your Captcha.

Benefit – Though it does not catch all spam bots, it does significantly reduce the number of them that can successfully crawl your site. Since I have started using it, my spam email has decreased by 70%. It is also easy to use. Most of the contact form widgets integrate easily with Captcha.

Images are also being utilized for Captcha, where you are asked to identify a picture from a word or phrase.

They are also working on SAT style Captcha where they ask you to pick out a word that does not belong in a set.


The newer way to identify humans is to offer a simple math problem.

How it works – Incorporated into forms is a small box that asks you a question like:

2 + 4 = ?

You simply do the math and answer the question.

Problem – The problem with this is it is not available in custom form plugins.  You can use it in comment forms on registrations. But you cannot assign it to a set page, or integrate it with a contact form through a plugin.  You can integrate it if you are willing to do the CSS coding, but if you are using widgets you are out of luck.  The widgets are currently only integrated with Captcha.

Benefit – The bots don’t seem to be able to do simple math.  You will eliminate your bot-based form spam.

My solution?

I added the Captcha to my contact form because it did reduce about 70% of my spam.  I would have preferred to use the math, but since I choose to utilize plugins to increase the ease and functionality of my site it won’t integrate.  This is a shame, but in the meantime I’m satisfied with reduced spam and the knowledge that I am a source of frustration for some Spam bots!

Protected Tweets are bad for business

twitter bird behind jail baars

I recently went to re-tweet someone’s post and received a warning:

Warning: This tweet is from a protected user

I was taken aback!  This is someone who is in the public eye. Why on earth would they protect their tweets?

If you are wondering what a protected tweet is, it is essentially a private profile on Twitter.  It means that only approved people can see your tweets.

This is fine if you are just an individual and you don’t want the bots to get you, or the porn spam, or the regular spam. Maybe you tweet content that you don’t want certain people to see, or content that you only want to share with some people.

However, if you are a public figure or just using your Twitter for business, then having protected tweets is counter-productive. Your goal is to get people to follow you. Increasing your followers, increasing participation and improving your business networking opportunities are all centered around interactions.  If people can’t interact with you, or even see your posts, then what is the point?

Because I am on the “approved” list, I can see this person’s tweets.  But this tweep just missed a networking opportunity. I was going to re-tweet something interesting and engaging.  Maybe some of my followers would have started following this person because I facilitated an introduction.

I could have decided to re-tweet anyway. However, it would have only been visible to the other people who follow this person. So I abstained.

Re-tweet lost. Networking lost. Opportunity lost.

What a shame.

Facebook Not-Mail: Part 5 The opposite of preferred is Spam?

Cartoon with a man saying "You should check your email more often, I fired you three weeks ago."

There is one glaring issue with the new Facebook email – spam.  There is no spam folder, only an “other” folder. Though we might tend to think this is the same thing, it isn’t. The “other” folder is really meant to filter emails that do not belong in your preferred email box, like bills, newsletters, and annoying friends who only send you forwards with inspirational quotes, etc.  The preferred box is supposed to be for people you really want to hear from. However the opposite of preferred is not spam.

The first part of your email address is your vanity URL.  So if you are  then will be your email address. These URL’s are crawlable by spam bots which means that any spam bot will easily be able to figure out your email address.

Any spam emails will automatically be put into the “other” box. So, now are you at risk of missing those emails that aren’t spam but aren’t preferred?