Avoid link spamming in your online community

15 April 2009

While most internet users will mainly suffer from email spam, one of the most common forms of spam on online communities is link spamming.

This takes the form of a number of weblinks in a single forum post or blog comment.

It is important that these are removed as soon as possible. Clicking on the links may open adult or unpleasent content, and in some cases malware or adware may be present.

There is also the possibility that some of the products being advertised may be scams.

Some members may try to enter into a dialogue with the spammer, which will usually not be replied to and will distract from the topic at hand.

Although most link spam posts will consist of a series of links and no text, some posts may be sneaky and have some text, but be written for the sole purpose of promoting a site.

Many link spammers also use specially written programs or scrape content off blogs to make their spam appear more interesting (this has happened on my personal blog recently).

Spamming is a massive industry, but there are signs that some countries are cracking down on this practice.

The US Can-Spam Act of 2004, which the excellent mailing program Mailchimp adheres to, was used last year to award Facebook US$873 million against the owner of Atlantis Blue Capital, which sent 4 million spam messages to Facebook users.

However, online community managers still need to be vigilant. Regular moderation of the community will enable link spam posts to be removed rapidly.

Once the Online Community has been completed, tested and ready for launch, I will be in charge of making sure that spam is removed rapidly and that users have an excellent experience.

At the moment, we are at the rapid prototype stage, meaning that an incompete version of the Online Community has been created for testing.