Normally I close the comments on my blog after about two months because I figure a) it’s a way to combat spam and b) most people comment on recent posts, not really old ones, so I doubted I was losing an audience closing comments on my 1-2+ year old posts.
After a Musing by Moonlight topic a couple of months ago, I decided to open all the comments on my blog because seriously, spam can’t be that scary, right? And I’m still using Akismet and it’s really good at catching spam. I only need to comb through it every few days to make sure legitimate comments haven’t accidentally been marked as spam.
Today I noticed something quite scary within my spam comments. Legitimate-looking comments were being made on articles actually relevant to the comment: naming the actual book the post was about rather than the generic “Hey, I’ve been following your blog for some time and this information came in useful! I told my brother and he bookmarked it!” kind of spam.
I figured it out because although the words sound right, the links in the profile bit are still bogus.
So I Googled the legitimate sounding comments and found the spam is actually plagiarised and lifting text from legitimate sources, and pasting them into a comment that has identified keywords from my blog posts.
Spam is Plagiarising Reviewers
Tiana Warner had a book blitz in late 2014 and this sentence was posted several times on several different blogs from her guest post titled “Finish your story: 3 Tips for Getting that Book Done”.
This one was taken from Suzanne Johnson/Suzannah Sandlin’s blog post “TBR-Toppling Tuesday–Five Book #Giveaway” from January 20, 2015. It’s for a completely different book but the keywords “Toppling” and “TBR” probably alerted the spam this might trick me into letting it pass.
Scarier still was this comment lifted from my friend Steph’s review of the same book, Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius.
Steph is a friend of mine so I was doubly shocked to find her own words being reproduced in a spam comment.
The final one was more of a hit and miss: the keyword was my screen name, Nemo.
It was lifted from some innocent person’s film review.
I can’t be the only one this is happening to.
Spam is getting smarter. It’s clearly scanning for keywords and stealing other people’s natural-sounding words to make it sound more legitimate.
This is worrying because the book community has recently had yet another plagiarism scandal that we really shouldn’t have to deal with.
It’s worrying that some people might fall for these plagiarised spam comments because they sound so legitimate. They sound legitimate because they’re literally stolen from our peers!
It’s worrying because if someone does accidentally yet innocently approve these spam comments, it’s someone else’s words being plagiarised. Perhaps they don’t know, but I’m worried the book community might end up turning around and blaming the blogger for plagiarism, of which they are completely innocent!