Social Media

Top 10 Signs You’re Spamming Sphinn

May 28, 2008

Being a moderator at Sphinn is pretty time-consuming, but it’s also fun! I’ve killed thousands of submissions and accounts from users spammers trying to game the site for exposure, a free and followed link, or whatever else they’re trying to accomplish. As Danny (I think) once said, “Nothing smells better than fresh killspam in the morning.” Hehehehe, so true.

Sphinn’s guidelines seem pretty straightforward to me. The primary rule is use common sense. Well, judging from the amount of spam that gets submitted every day, common sense isn’t very common.

So, in an effort to help those who need it, here are one moderator’s examples of signs that you’re spamming or gaming Sphinn. (I’ve blurred out the names of the guilty; the point isn’t to call them out individually, it’s to help… really. (And to make you roll your eyes at the crap we see.))

1.) Your submission has 61 words in the title.

(Note: Sphinn has no specific rule about how long a headline can be. But really, 61 words? Takeaway: Use common sense.)

2.) The URL you’re submitting has the phrase “for sale” in it.

Sphinn - for sale

3.) The article you wrote is filled with affiliate links.

Sphinn - affiliate links

(Note: As a moderator, I’ll overlook it if you have a good article that has an affiliate link at the end. But the example above? Spam.)

4.) You repeat your keyword four times in the headline.

Sphinn - keyword stuffing 1

5.) You repeat your keyword six times in the headline. (And once more in the description, because too much is never enough!)

Sphinn - keyword stuffing 2

6.) I click to read your article, and before the page loads, you hit me with a pop-up window selling your products, your services, your newsletter … anything.


(Note: Sphinn has no rule against submitting articles with pop-ups. This is not spam by definition. It’s just annoying, and looks spammy. Takeaway: Use common sense.)

7.) Your submission gets 19 votes in less than 40 minutes, while every other submission before and after yours only has 1-2 votes.

Sphinn - voting block

(Note: I know people have friends/co-workers who help vote up each other’s stories. We decide on a case-by-case basis if these are spam/gaming the site. And I know there’s only one submission from a recognizable user in the screenshot above, but still … 19 votes in less than 40 minutes? Please.)

8.) You submitted your home page.

(No image necessary. Point is, 99 times out of 100, people submit a home page for self-promotional spamming purposes. Submit your articles/blog posts, instead; not your home page.)

9.) Your story is off-topic, and you wrote the headline in ALL FREAKIN’ CAPS.

Sphinn - all caps

(Note: Off-topic = spam. ALL CAPS = annoying.)

10.) You have a public, open-to-anyone Facebook group called “I Sphinn Your Back – You Sphinn My Back.”

Sphinn Facebook spam

If I missed any, feel free to add them in the comments!


  • Reply Mike Bradbury May 28, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    This is hysterical. Thank you sir. Thank you.

  • Reply David Mihm May 28, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Thoroughly entertaining. I am contacting my real estate broker to inquire about the opportunities in Ahmedabad right now. Sounds like a great time to get in on the ground floor of something big!! lolz

  • Reply Hiren May 29, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Nice Observation Matt šŸ™‚

    @ David Mihm – I am from ahmedabad and here real estate is in boom. In 2006 rate of land increased 10% and in 2007 it increased 80%.

    – Hiren.

  • Reply andymurd May 29, 2008 at 1:35 am

    It’s usually very easy to spot spam on Sphinn and the work of just a second to mark it as such. Somtimes, though, there’s a foreign language submission that I cannot tell whether its spam or not, so I don’t click the spam button but I suspect it is.

    As the Sphinn demographic is predominantly North American, I guess that unless your article is written in English, it’s not going to go hot. Does Sphinn have a policy on foreign language submissions?

  • Reply Nadeesha Cabral May 29, 2008 at 2:25 am

    Matt,, one thing I can’t understand is that why these spammers put so much of an effort into promoting their stuff when they know that it’s going to be so easy to catch them red handed and ban them.

    For an example, in that instance where you showed how one submission got 19 votes, it’s pretty obvious that the submitter had created multiple accounts on sphinn to carry out the whole operation. And at the end, was it really worth the effort?

    Then again, I suppose that’s why you call someone a spammer šŸ™‚


  • Reply Matt May 29, 2008 at 8:40 am

    @andymurd – there is a guideline that says all submits must be in English. Foreign language submissions should be marked as spam or desphunn — either way, when we find them, we do remove them. You can see all the guidelines at

    @Nadeesha – in the example I used (19 votes), I don’t think it was one user voting his/her own stuff up via multiple accounts, I think it was one user getting all his/her friends to vote the story up right after it was submitted.

    Thx for all the comments, everyone. šŸ™‚

  • Reply aimClear May 29, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    How about: The title has 2 words with ALL CAPs as does the DESCRIPTION and exclamation points!

  • Reply ed May 29, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    God – I’m gonna sound like a suck up (so pretend I don’t).

    You all do a fine job modding Sphinn. Rarely see spam and I do tend to look for it.

  • Reply Matt May 30, 2008 at 12:16 am

    @ed – you’re such a suckup. šŸ˜‰

    @aimClear – probably not spam, but definitely annoying. šŸ™‚

  • Reply Kevin June 19, 2008 at 6:42 am

    Great post Matt. I’ve only recently become an active member at Sphinn so it was interesting to see what the moderators have to put up with (I appreciate this post was wrote a few weeks ago)!!

    Some of those submissions are hilarious. It’s good to see Sphinn are being proactive against the spammers. Can’t believe the first one you mentioned – the title is probably longer than the article.

  • Reply Nick Stamoulis July 30, 2008 at 5:13 am

    This is excellent information! These key points could be used for some of the other major social bookmarking sites for sure! Thanks again!

  • Reply SEO Genius August 16, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Great article, quite hilarious some of the stuff you find. Good article and very good point to make.

    Seriously how do some of these people think they will get away with it, how can it be worth the time and effort of registering and then submitting the site? It seems odd to me.

  • Reply Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2008: Social Media, SEO, and More Ā» Techipedia | Tamar Weinberg December 6, 2009 at 8:35 am

    […] Top 10 Signs You’re Spamming Sphinn gives you more insights into how to use social news sites properly. […]

  • Reply Andrew Nattan December 10, 2009 at 8:33 am

    That group is either genius, or absolute facepalming moronity.

    And you know what? I really don’t think it’s genius.

    You guys do a tough job, and you do it well. Cheers!


  • Reply How Profiles Help Us Moderate Sphinn | The Sphinn Blog February 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    […] Every day, the Sphinn mods and admin teams review dozens of new submissions and user accounts in our efforts to prevent spam and low-quality content from getting into the site, and to eliminate the stuff that does make it through. Some spam/junk is really easy to spot. […]

  • Leave a Reply