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April 18, 2006

How Many Stealth Comments Does Your Blog Receive?

Toby Bloomberg was recently asked the question, how many blog comments are stealth comments placed by marketing/PR companies? I thought about 5-10% of my comments are stealth comments from people rather than the overwhelming number of spam comments I receive every day.

What would you estimate to be the number of stealth comments you receive every day?

Here's Toby's comment on the Marqui blog.

At a presentation I did this week for the AMA Philly Chapter, I was asked a similar question. A guy in the audience mentioned he read that 30% of comments are stealth - placed by marketing/PR companies. No one could confirm the source. If you come across any data on that one I'd sure appreciate if you could share. Thanks.

Posted by johncass at April 18, 2006 11:55 AM

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Thanks John. How did you determine that they comments were not "real?"

Posted by: Toby at April 19, 2006 1:19 AM

Hi Toby, not sure if you mean that I thought real comments included Spam comments or not. I think it's pretty easy to distinguish Spam comments. I usually receive multiple entries from the same author and IP address. The comment includes a link to a website that has nothing to do with my blog entry, and the text is unrelated to the post. I usually junk them. In fact I am glad I don't delete them because now I have an estimate of the number of Spam comments I've received on this blog.

As for stealth posts, I usually send the author an email back offering them some options:

1) Post the comment but then write a constructive critical comment or blog post about the comment.
2) Delete the comment post.
3) The author can write another post that is relevant to my blog.

The reaction from people commenting is typically as follows: I don't hear back from person commenting, people write back and clarify their post, I've made mistakes with identifying stealth posts, so I apologize and publish the comment, or people write back and just ask me to delete the post. Strangely enough, no one has ever written back asking me to post their comment and criticize it. :-)

Typically when I explain why I am taking these actions, newbies to the blogging world appreciate the dialogue. Communities within the blogosphere each have their own culture that requires a change in perspective especially to those people that are used to focusing on the goal and strategy of sales constantly. While I think you can have a goal of sales but your content strategy is one of dialogue and relevant content to your audience.

Posted by: John Cass at April 19, 2006 9:55 AM

John - thanks for your detailed response. Do you mean you send all who comment emails or only those who you think are placed for pr purposes? Is that how you determine stealth comments?

Posted by: Toby at April 20, 2006 2:33 AM

Toby, I don't send all of those people who comment email. Only when I have doubts about the sincerity of a comment do I send an email to the person who commented. Usually that's either because of the content of the comment or when I click through to a person's website they are selling something unrelated.

I don't think its fair for me to make assumptions, and I've also made mistakes in the past, so I check with the person who commented first and give them options. By clarifying the intention of the person who commented I can quickly determine if that person was writing a stealth comment.

Posted by: John cass at April 20, 2006 9:23 AM

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