Good morning, friends! Today I am starting a new series here on my design blog – The Ins and Outs of Blog Commenting. In this series, we will cover effective blog commenting, identifying and preventing comment spam, how to turn blog readers into commenters, and more. If you have a blog commenting topic or perspective that you would like to see covered, please either contact me about your idea or consider submitting a guest post.

Today, I am talking specifically about blog comment spamming – how do you define it, and (here’s the kicker), are you a spammer and you don’t even know it?

My first question: What is spam?

Let’s start with the obvious answer: spam is a form of advertising, usually for questionable products and companies and get-rich-quick schemes.

Spam comments are those comments that we’ve all seen that add absolutely no value to the post on which they are left. They are easily identifiable by their generally poor grammar, lack of any real value and, sometimes, their explicit nature.

Another, more specific, definition of spam (and the one I want to focus on) is this: comments  that are left by (often questionable) companies in an effort to promote their products for free and to build back links to their websites (which are often spammy in and of themselves).

Ok, we are all pretty clear on what spam is by now, I hope. We all hate it and do everything in our power to prevent it.

My next question: Why do you leave comments on blogs?

(Trust me, this all ties together eventually).

I’m not sure about you, but I would say that the top three reasons that most bloggers leave comments on other blogs are:

1) To drive traffic to their own blogs

2) To build valuable back links to their own blogs

3) To promote their own expertise on a subject (by adding a knowledgeable comment) and to promote their own blogs posts (if the blog they are commenting on utilizes the extremely popular CommentLuv plug in)

Yes, I know that there are lot of other reasons that people leave comments. But, I am focusing on what I would say are the TOP reasons for leaving comments.

The REAL question: So…. are you a spammer?

Here’s where this all comes together. Using the definition that I offered for spam (blog comments left for the sole purpose of promoting a company/product and building back links), and the reasons that I think most bloggers leave comments (same as above) – add it all together and what do you get? You (and I!) could be defined as a spammer!

No? You disagree? I am sure you are not alone. :) However, it is not enough to just say you disagree – you need to defend your point. What is the difference between a blogger who comments to gain traffic and back links to their own blog and a typical spammer?