Addicted to novelty since 2001

A Common Email Reply That I Keep On Hand

Hi,
You may be unaware of this, but it’s inappropriate to post commercial messages as comments on a weblog without first contacting the weblog’s owner.

I am this weblog’s owner. With rare exceptions I don’t permit commercial messages in the comments associated with each article. So, I’ve deleted your comment. Next time, please contact me in the same way you would a journalist, to discuss the possibility of my writing about your project. Thanks. DB.

There’s a type of visitor–often but not always a small business owner–who randomly finds a page on my website and leaves a promotional message in the comments. The most recent example was a blurb to promote a new documentary on Tommy Douglas (posted to this page on my site).

By my definition (copped from Tim Bray)–unsolicited commercial email from people I don’t know–this qualifies as spam. However, it’s not like these people have a thousand zombified servers spitting out millions of blog comments. They’re not running spamming server farms from Abuja or Vladivostok. They’re just uninformed.

They probably read some SEO whitepaper that advised them to ‘leave messages in forums’ promoting their services, and that’s what they think they’re doing on my (and your) blog.

So, instead of identifying their comment as spam and ignoring it, I take the extra ten seconds to cut and paste this text into a reply and delete their comment. Most of them are highly apologetic when they get my message.

Do I ever accidentally reply to a real spammer? I don’t think so–it’s still pretty easy to tell the difference.

UPDATE: I tweaked the final sentence a bit to be a little more educational.

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