One of the most successful kind of websites for social interaction among people with common interests is a forum. There are forums for every interest in the world and many are used by industry leaders in business as well as celebrities. From sports to gardening, marketing to politics, religion to popular music, every niche has a forum.

For website owners, forums are an opportunity to get more exposure and brand themselves as a expert in their field. Giving advice, sharing stories, networking, and asking questions are the most commonly found content in posts, except for one type…

The Spammer

Unfortunately, many high quality forums are ruined by the entrance of spammers. There are several types of forum spammers, some more subtle and others who are totally blatant. It is generally considered good forum etiquette in include any kind of self-promoting links in your forum signature, a little post that gets added to all of your text posts. These signatures are most often in BBCode and occasionally in HTML.

The blatant spammer will simply use these code in their posts to promote links to whatever site they want. Often this is the case with inexperienced affiliate marketers who don’t know how to appropriately promote their site so they post it in forums asking people to visit.

If this tactic ever works it can only be because of ignorance on the part of the forum members. What’s worse is that the post is simply the URL embedded with obvious affiliate identity tags and the post itself brings no contribution whatsoever to the community, it’s just an ad.

The next step is that these forum spammers figure out that nobody is clicking on their links so the decide that the obvious identity tags in the link are driving people away because nobody wants to be somebody else’s money making machine. The now novice affiliate goes and gets a “tinyurl” to hide the affiliate tags in their link and then they start posting that one everywhere, once again, blatantly advertising without contribution. After a little while they figure out that they still aren’t getting people to click on their link, and start finally recognizing that affiliate marketers use “tinyurls” like candy and most people know that is a tactic to make the website owner more money and even worse, people feel like the owner tried to actually trick them into clicking on the link.

At this point the affiliate discovers he or she can change the link text so it isn’t so obviously an affiliate link, so while the posts themselves continue as ads, the text to click on is no longer the URL but a phrase full of hype that says something like “my program makes me lots of money” (which it usually doesn’t) so now they are starting to feel a little more confident. The spammer, however, is starting to realize that the posts are getting lots of complaints and no friends are being made in the community.

The affiliate is starting to realize that people don’t want to be sold to on the forums. His intention of capitalizing on the niche is not a problem, but the method of attracting clients is like trying to see the sunset by running east. It’ll never happen unless the approach is changed.

The spammer then decides to make a choice. Spam the forum or join the forum for the same reasons the other members of the community do and simply include a subtle link in their signature and actually become a contributing member.

Don’t be a spammer, play by the rules. You’ll have more friends, generate more interested prospects, and escape being banned from the best forums in the world.