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November 08, 2010

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Eric Fink

This could make for a nice student paper topic. I hope you won't mind if I add it to the list I keep for students seeking ideas.

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Laura

Yes, I was a bit puzzled about those two comments, but (vainly, perhaps) chose to believe that they were just associates who were drawn to my brilliant post like moths to a flame...

Ben

We are talking about advertising in class tomorrow so these issues are on my mind. I don't think this spamming is forbidden by the rules. It's not solicitation, because it's not "in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact" under Rule 7.3. If it's advertising -- which it may be -- it's OK under 7.1 because it's not "false or misleading." I can't think of any other rules that this conduct violates.

As for whether it gives the profession a bad name, yes, it probably does, but my own view is that we (the profession, the bar, the courts) should spend more time worrying about incompetent lawyers than tacky advertising. I do enjoy showing my students those tacky ads in class, though! It's always one of the best classes of the semester.

p.s. As a long-time lurker, let me take this opportunity to tell you that I really enjoy the blog, Dan.

Ron Miller

I tend to publish all of these types of comments. Sure, they might be a little spammy but having commenters is good and while not particularly insightful, these somewhat hallow comments still add something to the conversation.

Of course, if you wanted to completely alleviate the concern, you could add a feature that cuts out the person's website completely. Why do commenters need to add their URL link? There is no real reason for it. I always put mine in as a reflex because someone has asked. But I don't think it meaningfully drives up web traffic anyway.

John Steele

Ben,

Just for the sake of argument, let me offer a weak argument that some spam is misleading. When the spam comment is generic, off-point, and solely for the purpose of jacking up search engine results, is the comment at least insincere and therefor "misleading"?

Ben Cooper

John:

I agree: that's probably the best argument you can make against these spam comments. But I can't even see the anti-advertising zealots in places like Florida and Louisiana going after them on these grounds, can you?

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Rick H.

Unbelievable thread. Yes, this question of spam is a curious new development which merits chin stroking and further study in the comments section of your blog. The "weakest" argument against spam is that it is, perhaps, somewhat slightly misleading. Perhaps a position argument is in order: "Comment Spam and Search Engine Marketing: Adding Something to the Conversation."

Good job dispelling that myth of lawprofs being out of touch with reality.

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