The Day I Went to Jail

Hi, SE Readers. Joan here today. This is a short post, but the subject is something that could happen to any of us. No, I really didn’t go to jail. At least not a physical place with bars. It’s what we SE authors call Spam Jail.

Here at Story Empire, we are inundated with hundreds of spam comments each week. It takes six of us monitoring the site daily to filter and delete them. Incidentally, the problem worsened with the onset of GDPR, but I won’t open that can of worms today.

Most of the comments caught by the spam filter are actualy spam, but on occasion, a legitimate comment is marked as such. Akismet requires a two-step process to “free” someone from spam jail. And you’d think it would recognize that we have approved some commenters countless times, but often that same person will go back into spam with their next comment.

I never imagined it would happen to me.

Last month, I released a new book. Three weeks before the release date, I did a cover reveal. I had guest posts scheduled with several authors. All but one post went live on the same day. As is my custom, I read and respond to each comment. Many people made the rounds, commenting on each post. After a while, I began to reply with a simple, “Thank you, John,” or “Thanks, Lucy.”

Akismet didn’t like that. Mid-afternoon my comments were filtered as spam on multiple sites. Fortunately, a quick email to each website owner asking them to check spam and approve the comments fixed the problem. I was able to continue with my replies and have since been able to leave comments on other posts.

In checking the Akismet site, I was unable to determine what I’d done wrong. I suspect it was the short “thank you” comments were responsible.

In short, (no pun intended), there are a few things we can do to prevent going to jail.

1)    Make sure your comments are more than two or three words. Don’t leave the same comment on multiple sites on the same day.

2)    Take care not to post links in your comments. One may get through, but two or more is a big no-no. Of note, most real spam is filled with links and click bait.

3)    If you have a book promo or cover reveal, try to stagger the days of your guest posts. Not only will it lessen the chances of your comments going to spam but will also give you greater exposure over a longer period.


44 thoughts on “The Day I Went to Jail

  1. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links – Staci Troilo

  2. Spam Jail is the worst. And we routinely have repeat offenders. Akismet is great at blocking people—maybe too good. I remember when that happened to you and felt so bad. And while marketing, of all days. Great tips to avoid it. At least, when the plugin isn’t hyper-sensitive.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I never knew that about short comments. Thanks… for the wonderful post… so I’ll remember to leave longer comments… you know… in the comments section… on the blogs I visit. I hope this is long enough… to keep me from being jailed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Joan. I know I have to check spam now more than before. There are times I find that people who comment regularly are in there. I am just can’t figure that out. And if you forget, you could have a comment stuck in there for days.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve now gotten in the habit of checking spam 2-3 times a day on my own site because I have several legitimate followers end up there. I’ve also landed in spam on a few other sites where I’ve been a regular visitor for years. Crazy! Akisment does seem to have calmed down a bit these days, bu tI’m really getting tired of deleting the book-length comments that hit my spam and are nothing but junk.
    Clever post, Joan, and good tips for staying jail free! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Funny how it hits you as spam if you only have one or two words. Most of the spam comments I find are pretty long. The short ones are a sentence that usually has no coherency or doesn’t make sense with the post. Maybe they should alter that rule, especially since there are times when ‘Thanks’ is all you need.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Soooz. That’s my best guess as to what happened. I’ve been on a book tour this week and have tried to make certain my comments aren’t repetitive. So far, so good. Fingers crossed.

      Liked by 1 person

We'd love to know what you think. Comment below.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s