I still moderate all the comments here, but the setup is idiosyncratic enough that hardly any spam gets through. Today, I’m pondering one particular comment, wondering whether to approve.
The comment is to Kindle Yourself, about how you can buy the contents of this blog for $1.99 a month on your Kindle. It says:
As much as I love to read - especially blogs - I don't think it would be feasible for most people to subscribe to 5 or 6 blogs for that price. Not in this economy. But it's a great idea and I would gladly do it for some of the top daily newspapers.
Sensible enough. As I often do, since I care who reads this, I clicked on the “Wendy” link and it took me to wendycarlisle.com. While at first glance this is a vanilla blog, something about it bothered me; also, I was pretty sure I’d seen this movie before; comments from other blogs that somehow, in some intangible way I couldn’t put a finger on, felt like this one.
A bit of poking around increased my discomfort. First, there’s the blog’s “Disclosure Policy”, a graphic of some text (?!) from which I excerpt:
This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact <gmail address elided>.
This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation... the owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites, and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for or posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products...
Hmm, well, OK, I guess.
Then I glanced at the blogroll. All linked by first name, all hosted at URLs of the form FirstnameLastname.com. All sounding like they were written by real people living in real places, but theme-free and passion-free. All with what looked like bits of product placement. All WordPress. Most but not all of the domain names registered by AC Merchandising LLC.
So, yep, I’m pretty sure this is a new (to me) form of, uh... what? Spam? I’m not sure. It seems there are some real people in the system writing these blogs? Innocent folk looking to make a few extra bucks? A small staff each emulating a bunch of these people?
Anyhow, I don’t think I’m going to approve the comment. Wendy, if you’re a real person, I apologize.