Monday, September 30, 2013

Blog Spammers [UPDATED]

When I first started blogging, I realized very quickly that I could not run a blog that had no filtering process for the comments.  Back then, there was some Pat-Lykos-supporting-jackass named Kimberly Ann White that kept attempting to post Kelly Siegler's home address on my blog and Mark Bennett's blog.

Over the years, there have been pros and cons to moderating comments.  I try to post everything that people write in as long as it isn't personal and it isn't flat-out lying.  One of the other things that I don't publish is blatant spamming.

Not a day goes by when I don't get some attempt to publish a comment on the blog that reads like it was written by a graduate of Don Hooper's School of Spelling & Grammar.
For example:

Usually, the spamming author will have a link back to an attorney or bail bond company that is nowhere near the Houston area.  The attorney web sites will generally be some sort of mass marketing "DWI lawyer" from Chicago or something or other.  It is annoying, but not really a big deal.

Recently,  I've been getting bombarded by spam blog comments (including the ones shown above) that link back to a local attorney.  I e-mailed both Mark Bennett (who has consistently waged war against attorneys who outsource their advertising) and Paul Kennedy to see if they had been getting similar e-mails.  Paul said he had not, but would be excited to get an additional reader of his blog besides just me.

Mark encouraged me to both publish the comments as well as do a post on the lawyer.  I was torn, because I don't like rewarding bad behavior or giving publicity to somebody who is just shamelessly trying to get some free advertising.  However, Mark correctly pointed out that the idiocy of the website needed to be exposed.


So I wrote a post about that attorney and it got very mixed reactions.  Some said I went over the top.  Others said it was the only way to make a point.  I spoke with the attorney in question, and ultimately he fired the company that was doing the blog spamming.

I was glad to hear that, so I took out the part of this post that criticized the content of his website.  I'm sure that will get mixed reactions, as well.  Oh well.  That's my call.

In the meantime, I hope that all attorneys who read this blog will remember that our profession takes enough hits in the reputation department as it is without the help of internet marketers who engage in spamming.  


Anonymous said...

he's connected to someone:

Anonymous said...

Did you contact the attorney and request that you stop receiving these spam comments? If so, and you continued to receive them, then I guess this post does not seem so bad. However, if you did not, this post seems a little over the top.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 2:30 p.m.,

If I were trolling around looking for somebody to pick on, I might be more inclined to agree with you. However, since I received numerous unsolicited spams from him, I don't think it was over the top at all.

Our profession gets labeled as ambulance chasers and other derogatory terms because of marketing like this. His website holds him out to be someone of high accomplishment and was attempting to use my website (that I actually do completely by myself) as a platform for his advertising.

I have a hard time seeing why you think I owed him some sort of courtesy call.

Anonymous said...

You owe him a courtesy call in the interest of being accurate. You hold yourself out as a pseudo journalist or whatever is the correct title nowadays for someone that blogs regularly on items of public interest. That status requires some ethical consideration.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Um, yeah, I don't "owe" him a thing.

Anonymous said...

The only one who owes anything is the asshole who sprayed that Chinese pig latin bullshit all over the comments section.

Anonymous said...

I am the first anonymous poster from yesterday.

Typically, I read your website and I agree with a great deal of your postings. However, I disagree with you regarding not owing this attorney a courtesy call. It is one thing to publish a piece on someone who has personally attacked you or has placed themselves in the public eye via public office, but it is another thing to attack someone because you may not have liked some advertising. It just seems to me that this was a little harsh. I also agree with the other poster that it would have been nice of you to get his side of the story prior to slamming him in your blog and picking apart his website.

Christopher Demerson said...

Mr. Newman, thank you for bringing this to my attention, I wasn't aware that the SEO company I hired was spamming your blog as they were hired solely to make my site search engine friendly when google attempts to search for my keywords. So, for that I sincerely apologize and I will see to it that your blog or any other blogs are not spammed considering I hate spam just as much as you. In fact, the reason I found out about you post was because I was checking on my site's stats to see how visitors were finding my site and I saw people were coming from your blog. I thought it was strange that someone was finding me from another lawyer's blog, so I clicked the link to see why they would come from your blog.

I agree that you do not "owe" me a thing, but to attack me before you really know me is a little over the top. A simple phone call and I would have been glad to look into it and then put a stop to the spam. However, as you stated, you do not owe me a thing, its just the route that I would have taken.

I will not respond to all of your attacks as I'm sure they were said out of anger. However, I am in Harris County Criminal Courthouse most days of the week, if you see please stop me so that we can formally meet.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Mr. Demerson,

I appreciate you writing in, but you are mistaken if you think I wrote those things out of anger. I wrote them out of frustration. They were not frustration at you personally, but the methods of advertisement that you employ.

I will be glad to talk to you whenever you have the opportunity.

Please consider this, your comment proves exactly what I was trying to prove in this post. You hired an outside company to handle your marketing and you apparently had no idea what they were doing. You were unaware of the fact that they were placing canned material on another person's personally written material. In essence, they were attempting to steal free advertising.

That is what I have the issue with. Your website looks very nice. I'm in the process of redoing mine, as we speak, and I'm behind schedule because I'm doing it myself. I wouldn't let a law clerk handle the entirety of a case I was hired on, and I won't farm out how I advertise.

You will find that some lawyers have a lot of disdain for how others advertise: i.e., the "letter lawyers". I generally don't care how a person runs there business until they come flooding in on what I've been writing here for five years.

But, like I said, I'd like to meet with you whenever you are available. I might even edit up the post and take your name out after we talk.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Jesus, if I did this for every piece of comment spam I deleted on Grits I'd go nuts. Ditto for people who want to place off-topic self-promoting ghost-written blog posts.

@ Mr. Demerson, you should be aware that these tactics generate nothing bur scorn and ridicule (if usually behind the scenes) from both bloggers and professional journos, especially when they arrive in volume. Murray just said publicly what's been said a million times behind your back if you've been doing this long. Your SEO company has succeeded in worsening your reputation. Arguably, Murray did you a favor by letting you know, though I'm sure you'd have preferred he did it by phone. OTOH, he'd have preferred not having to vet your spam. What comes around goes around.

I'm not as critical as some of lawyer advertising, but IMHO the world would be a better place if all the blog spammers left their desks this afternoon and ventured onto the freeway to play in traffic.

Anonymous said...

Murray, you were wrong in how you posted. Be man enough to admit it. You used your position as a blogger to lash out at a stranger who, it turns out, was unaware that a company he hired was spamming you. In the past, you have been much more cautious and done your research before making such attacks.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 11:15 a.m.,

Don't hold your breath.

Just as I get held accountable for what I write or how I do my job, he can be held accountable for who he hires to speak for him.

When I first started blogging, I thought about allowing "GoogleSense" or whatever the name of it was back then to sell advertising on my blog. Next thing I know, there are ads for other attorneys who are (theoretically, in a business sense) my competition. So I stopped allowing advertising on my blog.

Spammer try to bypass that and get attention for their clients without paying for that advertising. Although not illegal, it is unscrupulous.

If I hired an investigator or a law clerk who was doing something that "I didn't know they were doing", I would still be held accountable. Mr. Demerson may be an outstanding attorney, but the message he hired these people to send was wrong and he ultimately is the one accountable for it.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

As of 5:48 this morning, I'm still getting spam from Sawebonz that leads me to Mr. Demerson's website.