One of the more obnoxious aspects of blogging is comment spam. Usually comment spammers are promoting Viagra or online gambling. Lawyers like Bradley Johnson have fallen to the lowest common denominator, littering legal blogs with spam.
As the Popehat bloggers noted:
While the post to which “Bradley Johnson” replied, and which he really enjoyed, concerns a competing Seattle attorney, he did not read it. The post is a squib, containing just a few words. It was posted months ago, so it’s hardly fresh. No one actually reading the blog post would have “really enjoyed” it. He just would have followed the link within. And he certainly wouldn’t bookmark this site, because the post is one of the most inconsequential bits of fluff we’ve ever published.
I just received a similar spam comment from Bradley Johnson. I immediately remembered the Popehat post. The spam comment I received is nearly identical to the one Popehat received.
The spam comment reads, in full: "Great post about the law. I found it to be very useful. I will have to bookmark your site for future reading." How flattering!
Of course, Bradley Johnson does not use his real name. Instead, he posts as "seattle criminal attorney." (In his Popehat comment, Mr. Johnson posted as "seattle injury attorney.") Folks who post legitimate comments use their names, or some silly pseudonym. Folks do not post as "seattle criminal attorney" or "seattle injury attorney" when posting comments - unless their intent is to spam.
Mr. Johnson is attempting to trick Google. The thinking (which is wrong and outdated) is that sprinkling "seattle criminal attorney" into blog comments sections will lead to a better Google result for those terms. When a potential client Googles "seattle criminal attorney," they'll be more likely to land on Mr. Johnson's site. By wasting my time and taking a shit at my site, Bradley Johnson hopes his site will have a better result in Google.
Now it could be that Mr. Johnson is using some scummy marketing service, and that he is not personally posting the comments. Could be. And so what? A principal is responsible for the acts of his agents. Don't hire scumbags unless you want to be held vicariously liable for scumbaggery.
Some have persuasively argued that lawyers who hire scummy marketing companies are strictly liable for spam comments. They say that a lawyer who outsourced his marketing has also outsourced his ethics and reputation. I am not so harsh. People are technologically unsophisticated, and are entitled to one screw-up.
However, someone has been posting comment spam on Mr. Johnson's behalf since at least September. I have it on good authority that Mr. Johnson was alerted to the problem. Yet the comment spam continues. Recently, Mr. Johnson left a similar spam comment at the Blog of Legal Times (here); and the Washington Legal Rebel (here).
Well, Mr. Johnson: Congratulations. Your name will indeed have a high result in Google. In a week or two, anyone Googling your name will quickly learn about comment spam.