Spammers & Trolls, Oh My – An IS Update On Blog Hazards


Sara Noble and I have been blogging for several years.  We know first-hand, most all of the tricks of the trade.  We thought we’d let you in on a few of those “tricks” so that when you visit other blog sites (and we encourage our readers to do so) you won’t be intimidated or hesitate to create an account and post your opinion in the comments section or – based on what you see – decide to pass on a particular site.

One of the most prevalent issues that bloggers have to deal with is SPAM and another is Trolls – frequently, they’re one and the same.

Spammers include people who intentionally scan search engines using words that fit in with whatever it is they want to promote or fight.  Quite often they’re paid to do this – especially political promotion work.  We see it happen every day on Twitter and Facebook.  That’s probably the easiest place to engage friends or opponents and start a debate that usually winds up being a shouting match with lots four-letter-word name-calling.

On Twitter it’s wicked easy.  Just enter a hashtag into the in-house search and you instantly get every current Tweet that includes that short identifier.  A good spammer can start a dozen fights either for or against someone or something in just a few minutes time.

For security reasons, I’ve been away from Facebook for quite some time, so I can’t speak to the current format, but I’m certain anyone can still “friend” lots of people and then proceed to post messages on their timeline that advance a particular product or political mindset.  Then the fun begins.  Very soon a verbal war breaks out and one or the other will put a block on the opponent, thus ending that effort.

Trolls come in several shapes and descriptions.  Most love to engage political opponents and, again, anything from a skirmish to an all-out war of words breaks out in short order.

One thing that seems to identify with trolls more than spammers; the language used by trolls is outrageously vulgar.  And that’s putting it mildly.  Quite often the first message you might receive from a troll questions your intelligence, your sexual preference and immediately describes you as a racist, rapist, pedophile and several other “names” as they assert their intelligence level as being far superior to yours.  Needless to say, the verbal “bombs” that are dropped include everything you’d expect to hear out loud during a National Football League game!

There’s only one sure way for a blogger to guarantee that type of communication is prevented from being published – moderated comments.  And, as I’m sure you know, we moderate every single comment that’s posted here.  We try very hard to keep the verbiage family friendly.  Sure, an occasional off-colored word sneaks through, but it’s never vulgarity.  We just won’t even consider publishing that.

Posting direct threats against is old hat.  If you did this in the real world you’d be facing criminal charges, but the internet allows for the creation of super zombies, who feel safe hiding behind a keyboard and making all kinds of outrageous statements.  When Sara blogged about Jon Hammer, she had people attempting to post (and emailing) threatening malarkey, saying they were from Los Zetas.  We’ve also identified people posting from special interest groups trying to manipulate people on the Obamacare issue.  You seldom if ever see ANY of those comments because we moderate them out.  We do, however, document each threat.

And then there’s the ultimate deceiver.  The blogger on a mission.  Again, usually paid to create a blog, usually political in nature, and a site that posts one piece after another that promotes an ideology.  You need to be keenly aware that those sites exist and know what you’re doing when you choose to engage the author(s).

We don’t blog in secret.  When you visit the Indie Sentinel you’ll see this conspicuously posted:

Mission Statement

“We aggregate news, offer commentary & provide original content. Our news is largely political & we currently lean right due to the happenings in D.C.

We are interested in all points of view, but our goal is to counteract the spin that is eroding freedom of the press, and we often do it satirically.”

If you choose to create an account and comment here, we welcome your opinion….so long as it’s civil, addresses the topic, and isn’t spam.  If, for instance, you’re the owner or employee of a company that produces products or equipment dependent on the passage of a certain piece of healthcare legislation, and you introduce yourself by telling our writers “..You don’t know anything”, we instantly become suspicious of your motives and investigate further.  Once we discover WHY you’re acting like a child and attempting to throw your weight around on bandwidth that WE’RE paying for, well….that’s when you can expect the old ban hammer to fall.

We haven’t had to break the glass and deploy the ban hammer very often, but when the need arises, we won’t hesitate….

Neither Sara nor I claim Mensa membership, but by the same token, neither of us was born yesterday.  We love to engage with our readers and have even invited several to branch out and write on topics they’re concerned about, just to give everyone another opinion to consider.  Not many blogs will do that!

By way of a private update for everyone:  Things are really looking up!  Our blog statistics have shown a tremendous increase in visitors and several of the pieces we’ve published have attracted thousands of “hits”.  We thank the bloggers who link back to us and a tip of the old fedora to those of you who have become regular readers.

You can follow Sara on Twitter @IndieSentinel and Dell @GoldenEagle.