Tricky Blog Spam Ramping Up

There seems to be something new going on with blog comment spam. It’s been hitting me here at SuperAff as well as creeping into a few other blogs.

Characteristics:

  • It’s not autogen spam, it’s a human being taking the time to comment in a way that’s applicable to the blog post (at least kinda/sorta)
  • They’re sneaking in questions that mention (and sometimes link to) products, services, people. They’re asking for advice (what do you think of xyz; I’d like to try ABC–what do you think; I need a good quality widget and I think 123 is really good, thoughts?).
  • The comments are made by people that have never spent a few weeks/months on your blog making relevant comments that add value in any way, but suddenly *poof* they arise from the mist needing your advice about a product.
  • The discussion on your blog is about Problem A, and again, they arise from the shadows to gush about Product #1 (never heard of before) to solve that problem. Complete with web address (sometimes).

The comment spam is so good at times that it’s hard to be sure someone’s intending to syphon your traffic to their product/service, but when in doubt–do a web search. You’ll almost always find several (dozens/hundreds) helpful commenters across several blogs and forums with the same plea for help or same product suggestions. The language/feel of the comment is a dead ringer.

Bottom Line: It’s your blog. Your traffic that you worked hard to build a relationship with. If a comment sticks out like a sore thumb, nuke it without apology.

I almost want to say: Learn from it and promote your own blogs/products/sites this way, because it’s done really well and flies under the radar for the less experienced. This could be a possibility for a site or product you don’t really care about building a good reputation (or brand) for, but for a web property that matters–it’s not a good idea. No one likes the smell of spam and that smell hangs on for years (and is in full view for eons via the web/search engines/web archives).

The level of increase in this type of spam is having me wonder if there’s a product launch coming up, “How To Use Other Blogs To Promote Your Products Without Being Deleted For Spam”…only $99.97 if you buy now! Or maybe it’s someone’s WOMM campaign service they offer for a fee, who knows.

False Online Storefronts?

I have a few web directories that are getting stinkier and stinkier to work with over time. Ninety percent of the submissions are the usual MFA, Amazon knock-off, auto-gen mass reprint article content, and every type of splog imaginable. And so on. But the site quality for submissions is getting WORSE as time goes on.

Where it used to be the odd few that had hidden codes and links, it’s happening more often and on more legit looking storefront/ecommerce type sites.

I’m now seeing hidden forex code on outdoor sporting good stores, blatant outgoing porn links on diamond jewelry store sidebar links, hidden – tiny 1 pixel links going to who knows where, and I’ll never forget that poker/blackjack link front and center of the computer supply store I stumbled across trying to shop for office software. Never mind the resource/links pages on many of these sites. OMG what are they thinking!

I realize there’s some hacking going on and hidden links are being placed on websites without the owners knowing about it, so maaaaaaaaybe some of the hidden stuff can be discounted. But what about the front and center stuff? The sidebar links going to porn heaven (buy an engagement ring then skip off to watch Ms. Tushy)? The poker parties above the fold, dead center? The photographer’s site with links to Mesothelioma lawyers? The crafts stores with links to hoodia, scoodia and all that jazz?

I have to wonder. Are these storefronts even legit? Are they even open for business? Or are they mock stores, all about feeding search engines what they want for seo reasons?

Gah what a mess it is out there, and it seems to be getting worse in so many ways.

Going back digging for more hidden jewels of the net–Wrapping myself in the usual adsense & popup repellent on my way in. Sigh.

Click Fraudsters & Wiccan Retribution

Since the BusinessWeek article came out several days ago, it seems the ‘spies’ that are reporting incentivized parked domains are seeing a bit more success getting stuff shut down when they report them. The ringleaders aren’t too happy about it all though, and one is shouting out threats of Wiccan Retribution:

I HOPE YOU LAUGH SO ###### HARD YOU CHOKE TO DEATH. I’M CALLING ON A FEW OF MY WICCA FRIENDS. SEE IF WE CAN MAKE LIFE AS MISERABLE FOR YOU AS YOU HAVE FOR ME AND MY HONEST MEMBERS.”

Bizarre no? :lol:!

ETA: Check out the numbers this guy was doing:

AFTER LOSING 2 OF MY BEST PARKING ACCOUNTS THIS MORNING PLUS ALL THE EARNINGS, NOT TO MENTION OTHERS I’VE LOST WITHOUT SAYING A WORD, IT’S GOING TO TAKE A MIRACLE FOR ME TO GET UP THE MONEY TO PAY YOU ALL. FROM THIS DAY FORTH, UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, THERE WILL BE NO MORE ADMIN ADVERTISEMENTS SENT! I HAVE TO RAISE $21,000.00 BY THE 15th TO PAY YOU ALL ON BOTH SITES.

No wonder he’s cranky! That’s a big chunk of change–and it’s just the clickers share ;).

So who are these people deep in the dark recesses of click fraud that are reporting the shenanigans? Dodging threats of Wiccan curses? How long have they been reporting this to Google, parked domain companies, etc.?

Would you believe they’ve been neck deep in this stuff for *years*? And only NOW are they seeing sites starting to get shut down?

I know people. I’m not involved with gptr, yet I have a good grasp of what’s going on in there. Google, Yahoo!, domain parkers–they really need to step up to the plate here and infiltrate these click fraud communities to have a better handle of what’s going on. If I can do it, why the hell aren’t they?

Another article came out interviewing someone who gladly clicks for pay: Clicks that sting Armies of citizens have been lured into fraud rings

Louise, a disabled housewife, plays a bit part in a ring of online fraudsters.

She spends her days at home in Ohio entering queries in obscure search engines and then clicking on the ads — over and over again.

Louise’s illicit clicks cost advertisers untold amounts of money. But she doesn’t care because some of their losses eventually trickle into her pockets to help pay for her prescription medicine.

FYI: Things aren’t close to being cleaned up yet. Keep your ads off the content network ;).

Does anyone know if the results in parked domains are from adwords search network or from the content network?

BusinessWeek: Click Fraud – The Dark Side Of Advertising

Wow, this is exciting! Businessweek has a great article out on click fraud: Click Fraud – The Dark Side Of Advertising

Quote from Business Week:

That confidence may be slipping. A BusinessWeek investigation has revealed a thriving click-fraud underground populated by swarms of small-time players, making detection difficult. “Paid to read” rings with hundreds or thousands of members each, all of them pressing PC mice over and over in living rooms and dens around the world.

Why exciting? Hey who says mainstream media isn’t paying attention to the blogosphere: Found: Click Fraud Paid Clickers – Chat With Them If You’d Like

Former Click Fraudsters Interview:

“It’s not that much different from someone coming up and taking money out of your wallet,” says David Struck. He and his wife, Renee, both 35, say they dabbled in click fraud last year, making more than $5,000 in four months. Employing a common scheme, the McGregor (Minn.) couple set up dummy Web sites filled with nothing but recycled Google and Yahoo advertisements. Then they paid others small amounts to visit the sites, where it was understood they would click away on the ads, says David Struck. It was “way too easy,” he adds. Gradually, he says, he and his wife began to realize they were cheating unwitting advertisers, so they stopped. “Whatever Google and Yahoo are doing [to stop fraud], it’s not having much of an effect,” he says.

BusinessWeek Click Fraud Cover Story A big thanks to Peter Da Vanzo who picked up my post: Disturbing Click Fraud Underground: “Let It happen”?. I have a feeling no one would have touched the story otherwise ;).

The forum that started it all is gettin a little excited: FINALLY GPTR Has Finally Hit on BusinessWeek on Media, Good News a Free publicity for gptr world

ETA: I forgot to mention this will be the cover story for BusinessWeek issues that hit the newstands this weekend. I know I’m picking up a copy! 😆

I’ve Been Hacked!

Most people *freak out* when one of their websites is hacked. I burst out laughing.

One of my directories (NiftyShops) was hacked and all files deleted and replaced with this scary red glowing demon skull thing with spine tingling wooooowooooo music playing in the background. Courtesy of RoDhEDoR & Linux_Drox & Dr.Jr7.

I noticed it yesterday and it’s all cleaned up now (host had it cleaned within minutes). It could have been like that for a few days. I do auto weekly backups for the site files (database daily) and the backup for the 21st was skull boy, but the 14th was a-ok.

I don’t know if this happened because of the directory script I was using (never felt great about that index.html file being 777 for permissions ;)) or if this host has ‘issues’ — new host for me.

I’m just going to shut the script down and leave the directory sit for awhile (no new submissions). The setup wasn’t that great to begin with, really hard to customize the template (which explains the current design), and not thrilled with the site overall.

I’d like to do something fun and funky with it, but it’s so far down the priority list that I think it’s l-a-s-t. Since the crew is so creative with their designs (RoDhEDoR & Linux_Drox & Dr.Jr7), maybe they’ll hook a girl up with something quite trendy. Red glowing skulls are not happening though. That’s so 80s.

What do you think? Is getting a site hacked and skulled some sort of Webmaster Rite of Passage? I don’t know why I’m so amused by it all. Maybe because it’s not a priority site for me. Or maybe because I realize the crew wouldn’t have messed with me if someone hadn’t left the door open.

I guess I should offer a bounty for anyone who brings the dastards to justice for messing with Nifty. NOBODY MESSES WITH NIFTYSHOPS! I think I’m supposed to be furious. So I’m offering a copy of a reseller ebook to anyone who can provide the necessary information to put those guys in Alcatraz for good.

Disclaimer: I’m not sure which ebook yet. But it will not be aged more than 8 years. And it will be an .exe format cranked out by some crappy software so it won’t work on Windows XP Service Pack 2. Nor will it work on a Mac. Or any operating system that has come out in the last 2 or 3 years. And when Vista arrives–it will evaporate. Tis the best I can do.

Note: The hosting for SuperAff is going through some pains right now from the server move. Things are loading slow and my outgoing mail seems to be stuck. I’ll respond to contacts as soon as I can get the outbox moving again.

Shady Sites Cloaking My Blog’s Name & Domain – Wonder Why?

A little while ago I did a google search for – Find web pages that contain the term “superaff.com” – and came across some strange stuff towards the last few pages of results.

There are several websites that are doing something weird:

“SuperAff.com” serps – Starting Page 5

Beginning halfway down the page (page 5 of serps), you’ll start noticing drug and gambling type sites containing the term SuperAff.com.

I’ll visit those pages and 9.99 out of 10 times – there’s nothing on there stating SuperAff.com.

I’ll View Source – Sometimes SuperAff.com is there, most times not

I’ll View Cache (if possible) – Same thing

I’ll View Cache View Source (if possible) – Ooops there it is

Most don’t have cached pages though so it’s not possible to take a look.

I don’t get it? These are drugs, gambling and sometimes more ‘adult’ type websites. Not a thing to do with my kind of content. Why on earth are they pulling SuperAff.com into hidden and/or cloaked code?

Anyone have any ideas?

I’ve been reporting the sites slowly but surely to the engines and will continue to do so – but I’m curious as to what’s up. I’m going to send a note to SpamHuntress, she may have a clue as to what these guys are up to.

I’ve got a notepage with some domains to do some backlink checking. Not sure if it will help, but I’m curious as to who’s involved.