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Why You Need a Spam Filter

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Spam Comments

Recently, Teresa Boardman wrote an article about comments on blogs and she and I have spoken via email about various aspects of comments that are negative. We all want comments, some of us even have the glorious problem of having to weed through comments for the *quality* comments, but today I want to address spam comments. It’s not always a big deal, usually I just click “spam” and Akismet eats them.

I wanted to share with you today why you need Akismet spam catcher on your blog, here’s a perfect example… I wrote a super awesome article about meeting Jeff & Rocky Turner and this was one of the comments which relates nothing at all to what I wrote:

Well, besides truly enjoying the “art of the deal,” my passion is in working with new and experienced agents in developing their businesses. I Always think about the four “C’s”: Confidence, Commitment, Contacts, and Closing Skills. I’ve worked with agents who have all the four C’s, but it’s taken them a year or more to make money. Nothing, nothing, nothing, then, boom! It all kicks in and they do fine. That’s a beautiful thing to see and very rewarding.
Visit At:wills

Hundreds Like This

I broke the link so as not to give this idiot any traffic. But as silly as this seems, my small blog doesn’t even compare to such a big blog as this. Literally hundreds of unrelated comments are made here (and likely on your blog) that you have to read twice to see if they are even spam… they seem so harmless. It’s not harmless though when I write an article pleading for help for a friend and this same comment pops up. It also makes me look badly as a host if I miss comments like these, so it’s important for people to read every comment that comes through no matter how exhausting.

Dear Spammer, please don’t promote yourself when I’m asking for charity, giving an industry report, writing about technology or anything else, you’re already a jerk and now I have proof. Love, Lani

Get a Spam Catcher

Get Akismet Spam Catcher for your Word Press blog by clicking here, it’s a simple plugin. It won’t get rid of all spam but it sure will alleviate the stress of weeding spam out of your comment stream.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Poppy Dinsey

    July 30, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I added Askimet a while back, I miss the porn.

  2. Ken in Elgin

    July 30, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Easy to use plugin and it catches most of the spam.

  3. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 30, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Nice post! Now come visit my site of prescription medications!

    😛

    Heh, yea. If you are visible to your customer, it means you are visible to the spammers as well. Having spam filters will help catch most of the spammers and will keep you from wanting to hang yourself.

  4. Brian Sparr

    July 30, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Another spam filter that works nicely with WordPress is reCAPTCHA. The great thing about it is that as people leave comments, they are helping to digitize books.

  5. Jay Thompson

    July 30, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    I use both Akismet and Bad Behavior (which blocks some automated spam-bots). Both do a wonderful job of blocking and not publishing the 600 or so spam comments I get every day.

    The problem I was having is “false positives”. Occasionally the spam blockers will flag a real comments as spam. And if you get hundreds a day, it’s almost impossible to weed through them all to pull out the real comments.

    So I also just (as in yesterday) added a “math captcha” similar to the one here on AG. That has reduced the amount of crap Akismet flags, and allows me to review what it does catch and “rescue” if needed.

    It’s a never ending battle. I wish the losers that write these spambots and comments would get a life.

  6. Dan Connolly

    July 30, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    I agree, I hate spam! 😉

  7. teresa boardman

    July 30, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    I have great spam blockers and get very little spam on my blog but I stopped by to let you know that Hormel is a Minnesota company and they make spam. Some people actually eat it. I guess that is a good thing because the people in Austin, that is Austin Minnesota have jobs because of spam. If you look at it that way, spam is not all bad . . unless you eat it.

  8. The Harriman Team

    July 30, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    From the Akismet web site:

    7,038,756,038 spams caught so far (7 billion?? damn…)

    15,369,688 so far today

    88% of all comments are spam

    That last stat is the kicker…makes me all the more diligent about making sure mine are in the other 12%.

  9. Jay Thompson

    July 30, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Teresa – Austin (Texas) has a *great* festival (or at least they used to) called “Spamarama” — Spam cook-offs, Spamolympics (including, of course, a Spam Toss event), a Spam Ball and more!

    Lani – is Spamarama still held?

  10. Elaine Reese

    July 30, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    My WP Cutline design has Akismet built into it. How do the spammers send out their junk? Do they just blast all WP blogs or do they first find specific addresses then hit those blogs? I notice that they tend to try to hit the older posts and hit them repeatedly. I wish I understood the how and the why!

  11. teresa boardman

    July 30, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Ha! You don’t have a spam museum there. LOL wanna be

  12. Bill Lublin

    July 30, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam.
    Who knew that Lani & Benn lived near Teresa in Minnesota?

  13. Minneapolis Real Estate

    July 31, 2008 at 12:49 am

    Whew! I am glad I could pass your math test. Otherwise you might think this is spam!

    I have a wordpress blog with askimet and I have to pre-approve any comments before they are displayed. The askimet spam filter is so good that I almost never even see any comment spam.

  14. Glenn fm Naples

    July 31, 2008 at 5:20 am

    I use akismet and do not review all the spam comments caught to find the valid comments – just hit delete. Who has time to review several hundred a day.

  15. Jay Thompson

    July 31, 2008 at 7:01 am

    @Glenn – implementing the captcha I mentioned in comment #5 reduced my “review queue” from over 600 yesterday to 4 today. (1 of which was a valid comment) I agree no one can review hundreds, but I hate to see any valid comment stuck in Akismet and labeled as spam.

    @Elaine – most of the spammers use automated systems to dump links into thousands of blogs a day. They use “spiders” to crawl around the internet gathering web addresses and then just flood the net with their garbage. The theory is sooner or later they will find some blog that doesn’t have spam filters and then they will get “credit” in search engines for the links they have out there.

  16. Eric Bramlett

    July 31, 2008 at 8:15 am

    @Jay –

    Spam-a-rama is still going on. I haven’t been for a couple of years, but it’s pretty fun & disgusting at the same time. Last time I went, we brought my friend’s yellow lab, and he had a better time than anyone cleaning up all the spam on the ground.

  17. Holly White

    July 31, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Akismet works perfect for me, but the added recaptcha sounds like an extra line of security that could helpful. I sure do miss those E.D. posts though!

  18. Benn Rosales

    July 31, 2008 at 10:57 am

    @Eric I tried attending and could smell the spam from the car and with the hot sun, humidity, several beers in me, and the dusty fair like feeling, I only made it 3 steps towards before losing my lunch- thus never actually making it, but I was there with you in spirit! Maybe next go around you can live broadcast? heh

  19. Frank Borges LL0SA= Broker

    July 31, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Try this… find their cell phone numbers and send them an Efax. Efax will make 5 attempts with their high pitch scream.

    😉

    Hope that makes your day.

    Frank
    http://www.RealtorSpam.org

  20. Cheryl Allin

    July 31, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Haha @Bill #12 – I can’t hear “spam” without thinking Monty Python, either. Bloody Vikings! You can’t have egg bacon spam and sausage without the spam.

    I’m so glad somebody invented image captcha, and I really love how this site handles it with the “Try this: 1+4” Some other sites take their image captcha to such an extreme it’s virtually impossible to decipher.

    Now, if I could only clean out the 500 spam emails I get into Outlook per day, I’d be happy.

  21. Elaine Reese

    July 31, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks, Jay, for the explanation. Can’t imagine anyone not having a spam filter.

    Frank B., that would be fun to do to the political phone calls I’ve been getting 4 times a day.

  22. Benn Rosales

    July 31, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    ((note))

    If I’m a spammer I know that you moderate the first 2 or 3 comments from a new commenter. So I will enter your space and leave several somewhat coherent comments to confuse you. Once moderated and allowed – BAM I’m going to spam bot the living daylights out of your blog and of course they’ll be allowed through. This is where captcha comes in. The spam bot can’t always navigate such things so they lose, however, the spammer can still enter and leave spam directly.

    Lani and I both spent nearly 2 hours a week or so ago cleaning out posts so we have first hand knowledge of the MO. Redundant blocking is key.

  23. Tom

    July 31, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Benn

    One of the things I have is the comments being sent to me via email. If junk starts coming through, banning the email and or IP address is a quick solution. I have not had the captcha on as this has not been a problem lately, but I would not hesitate to use it if I needed it.

  24. Glenn fm Naples

    July 31, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Jay – thanks for the suggestion and I do agree with you, it is nice not to mark a valid comment as a spam comment.

  25. Vicki Moore

    July 31, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Gotta question. What do I do about sites taking my posts verbatim then giving credit to the wrong site? I don’t want to put the link here, but…what to do?

  26. Paula Henry

    August 1, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    I may eventually need more than Askimet – for now, it does a great job. I used to get a lot, which has been mostly eliminated – when they can’t get through, they go elsewhere.

  27. Matthew Rathbun

    August 1, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Ok, ok I’ll stop commenting 🙂

    No, really I am tired of the junk. Honestly, the church blog that I host gets attacked with more crap than any of the rest. It’s sad that people have nothing better to do than spamming.

  28. dhuwuh

    August 19, 2008 at 8:39 am

    how to stop spammer at blogspot sir? thanks

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Coaching

Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!

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magic eight ball

magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Coaching

Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:

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short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Coaching

Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.

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short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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