Doing Time in Spam Prison

It started off innocently enough… I was minding my own business, reading the blogs that I follow and making my usual clever, pithy, and well-reasoned comments. Suddenly I noticed that my nuggets of brilliance were disappearing. I’d hit Post Comment and *POOF* they were gone. After trying over and over and watching my comments evaporate each time, I gave up and began to search for a solution.

At first, I thought that some of my comments were waiting moderation, but it was happening even on the blogs that I comment on regularly without trouble. Since it occurred on my iPad as well as my desktop PC, I was pretty sure my usual nemesis, Microsoft, wasn’t to blame. Now, here is where I start missing the perks of work: an IT department, and, if not that, at least having access to a team of internet savvy co-workers. Since retiring, I am my IT department.

I searched the googles with no luck. I explored the WordPress forums to no avail. Finally, I reached out to WordPress’s “Happiness Engineers,” hoping they could live up to the promise contained in their title. Fortunately, Chrissie, Happiness Engineer extraordinaire, came to my rescue and determined that, for some reason, my comments were being marked as spam. Why? she didn’t know, but now that I knew what was happening, hopefully, I could find a fix.

My next step, according to my new best friend Chrissie, was to contact Akismet, plead my case, and have them break me out of spam prison.

What is Akismet, do you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked…

Akismet, according to their website, is a service used by millions of websites. It filters out “hundreds of millions of spam comments from the web every day.”

That’s hundreds of millions of spam comments… and at least 20 of my non-spam comments.

After running a few tests and submitting my DNA, the court of Akismet finally determined that I was wrongly convicted and released me, albeit with a warning:

“Sometimes commenting quickly can mimic the behavior of a spambot, which leads to your comments being marked as spam. To help avoid this happening in the future, you may want to slow down the rate at which you are submitting comments.”

How I, a three-fingered typist at best, could have exceeded the comment speed limit, I have no idea, but I’ve paid my dues to society and have learned my lesson. Now that I’ve tasted freedom, I have no desire to return to spam prison.

By the way, lurking among the various Viagra ads, scammer come-ons, and nonsensical word salads in your spam folder may be one of my innocent comments waiting to be set free.

And, let my experience act as a warning: don’t exceed the comment speed limit least you find yourself thrown in the can.

Author: RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

118 thoughts on “Doing Time in Spam Prison”

  1. Very interesting! Sometimes I do comment right away if I happen to be at the computer when a new post comes in, especially this month with the A to Z so I don’t get behind! I’ll have to practice some restraint 🙂

  2. Too weird. I have posted a comment only to see it disappear on the site and then have the blog owner tell me they received it in an email. I type with one finger and fight with spell check!

  3. I’ve commented on some blogs and gotten a message that my comment couldn’t be posted. No reason given. But that is much better than what YOU endured. Maybe you should stop mentioning “hot Asian women” in your comments 😄

  4. This also was happening to me yesterday. And I kept having to sign in all the time. So several people will have me in their spam too. Today, all seems well. If you get this, you’ll know that’s true.

  5. The WordPress Happiness Engineers are very helpful indeed. On one occasion they helped me almost instantly with a spam problem of a different kind. For every comment I sent to my fellow bloggers I received a like from a very questionable source located in Russia. In this case the spam filters of WordPress let these likes slip through. Three cheers for the Happiness Engineers!!!

    1. This was funny as well as informative! Anne Mehrling just forwarded this link to me since I had the same thing happen to me the other day. I also try to respond with pithy or witty comments, so if I’m doing that and they vanish into cyberspace I get pretty upset. Not to mention that if you’re like me, you likely comment to the same bloggers and they have the expectation … as do you of a reply. The interaction is all part of the fun of blogging. I contacted Akismet as well and told them the problem and they suggested I put the designation “not SPAM” on the legitimate people. I noticed someone said there was a Russian link on comments made on other sites. I had that a few weeks ago and advised WordPress who said they would monitor it.

      1. It is frustrating to spend the time commenting (which, as you say is where the fun is) and have it disappear. I’m not sure how to designate certain people as “not spam” but I’ll try to figure that out. I also have some regular commenters who continue to sit in my “moderation” folder waiting for my approval. Thank you for your comment, and thank you to Anne, for introducing me to your blog too!

        1. I get those regular commenters who sit in the “moderation” folder as well. I never thought to mention that to Akismet when I filled out their forms this week. As to the “not spam” … when you are in the Dashboard, and you see that you have spam, if you scroll to the very bottom of that spam’s text … there is a couple of choices to make like “delete” or “not spam” … “not spam” is the first choice. That’s what Akismet suggested that I do to legitimate bloggers who end up there. I’m glad Anne sent me the link to this blog post … something good came out of this spam adventure!

    2. Peter Klopp – I had that happen a few weeks ago and told WordPress about it … I thought it was strange indeed. I am here at this site because someone read this post and I, too, lost most of my comments to someone’s SPAM filter earlier this week. Poof – gone in cyberspace … many of the people I comment on are in a different time zone, so I may not know if they got the message until the next day.

        1. I have to agree with you – these problems just started within the last two weeks. I asked other bloggers about the Russian bot thing – I think they thought I made that up. 🙂

  6. pfft! I think that’s their version of saying ‘they don’t know’. I’ve been suddenly relegated to the penalty box on many blogs over the past couple of days. Personally, I think our friends at WP changed something 😕

      1. Thank you – I will indeed do that…just thought I’d try and avoid spam prison by slowing up a bit….incidently did you ever have SPAM (as in a tin of) in the US? I thought it was a uniquely British concoction…I think it saved our bacon during WWII…

        1. SPAM was introduced to the world in 1937 by Hormel Foods, an American company. Apparently, it became a really big deal during WWII when it was used to feed the troops. SPAM is almost a “state food” in Hawaii (apparently a holdover from the war). I’m not sure how it became a term for unwanted online communications, but somehow it fits!

          1. Ooo…just checked wikipedia…(and I guess this is where the Brits come in)…the term spam (for unwanted online communications) apparently originates from a Monty Python sketch where SPAM appears in every item on a restaurant menu when one of the characters doesn’t want it…and it also just constantly and randomly appears in a monologue by a historian talking about Vikings in the same sketch…..(that’s Monty Python for you…)

  7. Hahaha, love the photo. Comments going to spam are such a nuisance, I keep forgetting to check there, and I always like to reply to comments as quickly as possible, so it is somewhat annoying when I find a few in there. Off to check the spam folder now 🙂

  8. This is such a hysterical and yet informative post. Great photo. Glad you have been released from jail, but boy, that was a stiff fine you had to pay!

    I’ve had my comments disappear into oblivion, sometimes before I was even finished! I’m getting an inferiority complex. Lol.
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

  9. So glad I read your post, Janis! It motivated me to look at my spam folder in WordPress … where I found a comment from you about my recent post on the kindness of dogs and aloofness of cats. I clicked “this is not spam,” assuming that it would then appear on my blog page, but, as yet, it hasn’t. At least I’ve released you from the company of Russian bots and Spanish sportswear salesmen (I don’t get it either). Should I find your lovely comment somewhere, I shall acknowledge it–if only to let you know where you landed after your parole. Thanks for commenting and letting us know this problem exists. Where can I get a happiness engineer?

    1. I remember that your site was one that I had problems with… I’m so happy that you found my comment! Interesting that clicking on “this is not spam” didn’t do the trick. Thanks for freeing me from the bots and sleazy salespeople!

  10. OMG, I LOVE that opening photo!
    I must admit that you had me worried that your imprisonment was All. My. Fault.
    I know that you (and Jill) were trapped in my Spam Folder two days ago.
    My JetPack was having a cranky, melt-down fit about a new comment plug-in that I had installed. JetPack was determined to take as many hostages as it could in order to voice its hurt feelings. Even though I removed the offending new plugin, JetPack still imprisoned two more regular readers today (Sue and Susan). It seems to be working its way through the alphabet!
    Glad that the Happiness Engineers were able to help. They are next on my list to call!

    1. Your comment was held in spam prison before I found it this afternoon. Something is up for sure! I have a feeling the Happiness Engineers may be working overtime with all the complaints they may be receiving. Someone flipped a switch and changed an algorithm… Anyway, I’ll be checking my spam folder a bit more often over the next few weeks.

      1. Absolutely – For the past year I’ve only ever found Marty hanging out in my Spam Folder….and recently he hasn’t even been in there. Now suddenly BAM!! All my besties have been abolished to Spam. Aaaagggh!

  11. Speed-replying puts you in Spam prison???? That is so unfair! I just had a friend ask me to check my spam folder. Sure enough, she was there, along with 55 other posts from some loony person. Thankfully, you were not imprisoned there.

    1. Thanks for checking, Ann! The weird thing is that I don’t make a bunch of comments at once. It takes a while to read each post, and a little while to formulate a comment. Hardly speedy. They must have had their speed radar dialed up to extra sensitive.

      1. I went through a period of several weeks where lots of my comments evaporated. I find it hard to believe it was speed that did that. I’m a fast typist, but it takes a while to read a blog before commenting. Your post was informative and amusing. I hope you can stay out of spam prison now.

  12. Caught speeding! The funny thing is, I look at all the hundreds of spam comments people attempt to make and most are totally ridiculous and pathetic. It seems a whole lot of people don’t realize that no-follow links in published comments have zero SEO effect and produce almost no traffic. Even if their silly comments manage to get published, spammers are effectively wasting their own time.

  13. I love your photo and wondered what Spam Prison was LOL:) I can’t believe the problems that arise with blogging and computers. Typing a comment too fast???? What next. Glad you were released without conviction. Have a great weekend x

  14. You’ve taught me something and made me laugh, Janis. I always check my spam folder daily to see if anyone lands in there. I have a few regulars I routinely let out of jail. And recently I was the victim of comment incarceration. What a sobering realization when you look around and you are your IT department. Yikes! I hadn’t thought of that and now I’m both terrified and proud.

  15. Yes, your comments were going into my spam file. I found them there, but thought it was because you were using wi-fi somewhere not at home– like in a motel or a coffee shop. Now I find out it’s because you type too fast! Oy vey. If it’s not one weird revelation this week it’s another.

  16. Yikes! I’ve been dealing with my own issues lately, but that sounds serious. Now, I feel like I’m writing to an ex-con!
    So glad you figured it out. Sometimes if I’m on the computer and a blog pops up that I follow, I end up being the first to comment. I guess I should take it easy in the future. Thanks for the tip and enjoy your freedom!

  17. It keeps happening to me too and as the host of a weekly event it is a PITA to know that some of my participants may think that I’m ignoring them 😦

  18. This is both hilarious and interesting. Ubiquitous Spam! What a marvelous pic. Glad you broke yourself out of jail. I know just what you mean about trying to be your own IT department.

  19. Well you solved my dilemma. Now at least I know what’s probably going on. And I’m curious if this comment will show up or not…because I too am “spam” apparently.

    1. I hope my problem can help you. I’m a little surprised at how many people say they are having the same issue. It makes me think that WordPress or Akismet changed something in their algorithms that messed things up. Good luck getting out of spam prison.

  20. Well written, Janis. I’m glad you saw the humor in this. When I started reading, I thought it was an iPad problem, since, with some WordPress blogs (yours included) I can’t click “like” anymore, and I have to enter all my info each time I comment), but the problem seeemed more severe! I’m glad you received help from you online “IT department”!

    We have been dealing with Blue Host issues and hackers on our websites this past week and that was no joke! Mark had to compare files from back-ups for hours and hours and hours, to fix our Roaming About and The Wirie sites!

    1. Oh my, that sounds really serious. I’d need a REAL IT department to deal with something like that.

      Sorry about the hoops you have to go through just to “like” something. I’m not sure how to fix that… in fact, I had the same problem on my iPad and iPhone for a while, but it appears to have fixed itself lately.

  21. I’m going to have to follow Kate’s actions and check my WordPress SPAM folder (something I’ve never done). I might have quite a few in there for all I know. Thanks for this funny but helpful post, Janis. I really had no idea about this, though Donna has pointed out to me on many occasions that my comments on her blog go immediately to SPAM for some reason. – Marty

    1. Yikes! Your spam folder is probably huge! Every time I look (I try to go in there once a week) I have at least 20 – 30 comments. Most of them really are spam, but, every once in awhile – and it has been occurring more lately – I find perfectly legitimate comments. Btw, once you indicate them as “Not Spam” they may go into your “pending” folder for approval, even though they are regular commenters.

  22. How frustrating! While I appreciate having spam filters (I really don’t need to buy any Viagra, thankyouverymuch), I do get annoyed when I see that a comment from someone who has commented on my blog several times before ends up in there. I don’t think I’ve had the problems with my comments going into spam, but for a while I couldn’t respond to comments on my own blog without logging out of, and then back into, WordPress every single time. Thank God that God fixed!
    Hope you never have to go to Spam jail again!

    1. WordPress seems to do a good job identifying the true spam (I don’t think anything like that has ever gotten as far as my comment section) but their level of sensitivity appears to be set pretty high lately. I’ve never had problems replying to comments on my own blog – that would have driven me absolutely nuts!

  23. What a great post, Janis, so timely as I’ve heard other bloggers describing other problems with comments and other spam issues. The happiness engineers are good aren’t they? Glad you are out of spam prison and i cracked up at your photo!

    1. Fun with PicMonkey! I was a little surprised that so many seem to be having problems lately. It’s such a helpless feeling to write a comment then have it disappear into thin air. Hopefully, it’s fixed now… Good to see you around the blogosphere, Terri!

    1. I always go with the “maybe it will magically fix itself” method first. Unfortunately, that didn’t work so I had to figure out another way to break out of prison. I’m grateful for the help I received, but I hope never to have to deal with that again.

  24. Oh my, Janis! I wonder who I might find imprisoned in my own SPAM filter! You were falsely imprisoned, and I’m so glad you were sprung! Now stay out of trouble or it could happen again! 🙂

  25. Thanks for your lighthearted post about a “serious” subject. I did not know there were consequences to a quick response; if you don’t hear from me right away after a new post, you will know why 🙂

  26. I had no idea!!! I do type pretty fast and I haven’t had this happen to me! But it’s nice to have a heads up, now I won’t panic! And I learnt about Akismet too!

    Cheers,
    Deepa
    2018: A-Z

  27. Hahaha, loved this pithy and witty post. Akismet sounds like a place in Harry Potter’s wizarding world. Your experience prompted me to check my spam folder (something I hardly ever think to do) and I am happy to report that there were no legitimate comments trapped in there. I’m on Blogger, not WordPress.

    Jude

  28. I’ll make sure to comment slowly from now on. 🤣 There was a time I thought my comments were disappearing, too. Does WordPress give a “Your comment will appear once it has been approved by the author” message?

    1. I know… that made no sense to me; I think they were just making excuses for some change they made that messed things up. Often new commenters have their comments go into moderation (like yours did on my site) so the blogger can determine whether or not they are legitimate. After making a few approved comments, the comments go right through… in theory anyway. I have a regular commenter whose comments always go into moderation. I have no idea why. Thanks for stopping by!

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