Are You a Spammer?

There is a hazy line between getting the word of your products and services out there in a helpful way and just shoving and screaming it in people’s faces.

A friend last night told me of a guy who had used 40 different email addresses to repeatedly sign up for because he kept getting banned for advertising his goods. Eventually they had to ban his IP address. Now this site is primarily to help foreigners in Taiwan by giving helpful information and offering discussion. It’s about information for a specific community.

So when does a promotional message become spam?

It is spam when the sole purpose is to push your goods without adding any value to the community, especially when there has not been any consent to you sending those messages, or you haven’t built up enough authority within the community.

These messages were obviously not adding anything to the current conversations and were not part of a larger plan to build authority and then promote his goods in general.

There are two main types of spam I can identify along these lines (there are more).

Blog spam. Leaving comments that are very generic and oftentimes unrelated to the blog they are put on. This also includes pingbacks/trackbacks. These are often automated, and sometimes have messages like “Hey, cool site!” and are just there for the link that is made to the authors site from their username. These are easier to track down if there are multiple links to external sites in the comment itself. If there is a conversation, a link to your offer might be appropriate if left with a helpful comment that does keep the conversation going.

Forum spam. Forums are for discussion, they are for users to help each other and to contribute their thoughts and information to a topic. What the guy above was doing was not adding anything. Take, take, take. Building up your reputation is much harder, but much more beneficial in the long run than hit and run promotional lines.

You might not think you’re a spammer, but if you

  • leave meaningless comments just to leave a link to your stuff
  • don’t read the post before commenting
  • use generic posts everywhere
  • don’t add anything to the community before posting stuff for sale

then you might be a spammer.

Don’t be.

Spam them, and they’ll hunt you down. Build your reputation, and the crowd will beg for more good stuff from you.

Which kind of crowd woul you prefer?

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