Ah, the cushy life of a blogger, even a non-monetized blogger like Grace. We write our gems and put them out into the blogosphere where we wait to see what comments we get back from our reading public.
So why is it that far too many of those comments are in languages most of us don't speak or in gibberish that no one understands? And why do all of them contain links that are entirely unrelated to the blog post itself? (My personal favorites are the links to fashionista websites--obviously these folks have no idea what a middle-class, overweight 63-year-old wears, especially Grace!)
It's not a new question. Bob at Satisfying Retirement asked the same thing awhile ago. His issue was moderation. I long ago realized that I was going to have to moderate the comments coming into my blog. This wasn't necessarily to prevent nasty comments. (Not that I've gotten those, anyway. Disagreement is always fine by me.)
But I find myself wondering what the spam is supposed to accomplish. I can't imagine that anyone would click on a link buried in a lot of nonsense words.
In searching for the answers, I learned a lot--more, actually, than I wanted to know--about comment-spam. Apparently there IS a reason for it, especially for those who monetize their blogs and want to attract traffic. Since I'm not blogging for money, I don't particularly care how or where my blog comes up in a search though I do want potential readers to find me. Sure, I like knowing who comes to my blog, but I don't worry about my numbers--I'm not looking to be first in any search engine exploration.
Still, when Google or some other search engine, decides which websites to place at the top of a list of search results, one of the factors it considers is the number of links pointing to the site. A page that has many inbound links from other places on the web generally ranks higher in the search results than a page that has only a few links. As far as Google can tell, web pages with many inbound links are more popular, so Google concludes that those pages are more likely to have the information that a user is looking for.
Ergo, spammers don't really care if readers of GRACEful Retirement read the comment, click on the links or buy anything. The simple fact of getting the comment published creates a link that a search engine will count. That's also why a lot of the comments are on posts from the past rather than current ones--maybe we bloggers won't notice a new spam comment in an old post and it will be more likely to remain there untouched.
Even more amazing to me was the discovery that there are people, particularly in third world countries who will sit around and comment for seriously small amounts of money, as low as $1.11 an hour. I guess, for that kind of money, a decent command of the language in which the blog is written is not necessary.
On the flip side, there is software that allows you and I to send out random spam with a link to our blog to everyone else, so we can say a lot of folks out there linked back to us, and, we hope, get us up to the top of search engine lists.
See how wonderful technology is! And it must be getting better because I have seen an increase in the number of spam comments to my blog--fortunately, mostly caught by my spam filter, but still. . .
I personally found most of the explanations of spam and why we have it, way too technical. But here is one of the more succinct and helpful posts on the subject.