To anyone out there kind enough to have ever commented on a Clueless Girl post, thank you. I’m sorry if I haven’t replied to you. The thing is, within the past months, more and more I’ve been marking comments on this website as spam. That’s because, and this is a lesson I’ve learned from running this blog, sometimes spam looks a lot like a comment.
I started Clueless Girl on Earth Day 2016 and during those first weeks and months I would get so excited whenever the ‘comment’ icon on my admin page had a number next to it. It meant a live person had actually read my blog! Those days it was mostly notes of encouragement from my mother and a few friends. I never questioned whether their comments were real. I just happily responded.
That changed after I’d blogged about how plastic shopping bags were polluting the planet, and I received a message from someone I didn’t know. It was in Chinese, too, which made me very curious. So, I copied and pasted the long paragraph into Google Translator. That’s when I found out that the comment wasn’t a comment at all. It was just a bunch of advertisements.
I was disappointed. It would have been cool to get a comment from China. But also, the spam-blocker program I use should have stopped the ad from getting through to my admin page. Instead, it left it for me to decide whether to click ‘accept and reply’ to publish it or to ‘mark as spam,’ and send it to wherever spam winds up. With this one, as well as with the many similar ads I’ve received almost every day since, the choice was obvious.
But there are more subtle ones that get through, as well. They say off topic things like: ‘Hey man, stop posting so many videos and just write.‘ (I’ve never published a video on Clueless Girl and I think I’ve included links to maybe 2 videos in all my posts.) Or they tell me how amazing my blog is, but make no mention of the post they’re attached to. I’ve responded to a few of the latter ones, of course. I appreciate it when someone takes the time to say they like my blog, even if they do write with an accent and are weirdly over the top about it. So, it probably shouldn’t surprise anyone to know that after I replied with a thank you, there came a wave of similar weirdly over the top comments. Now I know that these too are a form of spam. What I can’t figure out is what they accomplish. I never click on any of the links in them. They just bug me.
Not long ago a comment came through that asked for my help. The writer said he was a new blogger. He requested some tips. FROM ME? I’m a new blogger too, so I don’t know much. But I wanted to support and encourage him. I offered advice about maintaining a writing schedule, which for me is important because not only do I research and write for this blog, but I’m also working on my second novel in a sci-fi detective series, and I teach part-time for my local Early Intervention Program. Then I clicked ‘accept and reply’. Well. Guess what. Not long after, I got hit with a wave of similar requests for help.
I’d been duped.
I’m grateful to anyone who takes the time out of their day to read my blog. If they then leave a remark or word of encouragement, I consider that a great gift for which I want to reciprocate by writing a reply. My intention when I started Clueless Girl was to respond to every comment received. I still want to do that! The problem is, I can’t tell the real ones from the fakes.
So, I was thinking: what if we had a code word that the spammers wouldn’t know about? I could put something like that at the bottom of every post. That way, if someone wanted to offer an insight or ask me a question or just tell me about their experiences, if they included it in their comment I would know it was legit!
So, here it goes.
THE CODE WORD(S)
I know I won’t get an ‘A’ for creativity here, but if anyone would like to leave a comment on this post, please include the words ‘not spam’ in your message.
Thank you all so much for reading.
For next week: The Problem with Cleaning Wipes.