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When does user-submitted commentary become "spam"?

     
11:05 pm on Oct 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm struggling with this question as I look back over some of my content pages that contain a lot of user-submitted commentary. I do not use a blog, so the comments were emailed to me. There are no links, but I do ask myself how Googlebot views the page(s).

Is there a way I should section those comments off, to tell a bot that they are user-submitted?
9:30 pm on Oct 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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First, if you are reviewing every comment before publishing it (I assume in your case so because they are emailed to you) I'd say you've got little to be concerned about.

It does seem like a good idea to create a semantic separation for UGC - however, I don't know of any way to do that, not even in HTML5. I know I get frustrated when an article with a lot of comments comes up in the SERPs for something in the Comments section but not for the articles content. I would at the very least create a <div> with a separate ID attribute.

The only other approach that I can think of is something that some sites have done - create a separate URL just for the comments and display that content below the regular content in an iframe. Seems like a lot of work to me, especially for people who arrive directly at the comment URL, but it might be worthwhile for some situations.
9:54 pm on Oct 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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You could also use Ajax to dynamically load the comments in. Perhaps a "show comments" button.
10:32 am on Oct 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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If your content are supported by microdata format then UGC elements even comments in your case play important role in Google SERP.

If your content include product updates or user reviews or typical third party overviews or gen. news then microdata might help moderated comments.

- Lalit Kumar
9:01 pm on Oct 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I feel like the algorithm could be viewing these pages as spam, just because some of the commentary are so redundant.

I may noindex, nofollow the older pages of UGC. Bad idea? I am scared to make any moves these days. The site is Penguinized, and I personally feel like Penguin is about spam on AND off page (not just inbound links). So I am doing what I can to reduce anything that could be perceived as spam.
10:39 pm on Oct 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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(Tangent) Penguin is DEFINITELY about more than just inbounds. My Penguinzed site had a totally clean inbound link profile - the problems that people more expert than I have identified so far were all on-page. (/Tangent)
9:32 am on Oct 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Well as some one who has had a UGC spam penaty applied to one of our sites. It was spammers posting links to copyright infriging sites - pirtated hollywood films or streams of olyimpic TV. That caused the penalty.

Our editorial team had noticed this and had started cleaning house banning users and deleting posts just at the time we got hit with the penaty - my feeling was that the spammers reported us out of spite.

Oh this was a "brand" site from a major Publisher.