You know what’s wrong with spam? it just isn’t rude and offensive enough. Or so some people seem to think. As I mentioned, the comment spam you get on a blog is usually of a fawning, “This is the best blog ever and I’m going to tell all my friends to worship your genitals!” nature. Quite a boost when you get your first one, but when they keep on coming – and you notice they all contain a link to something that wants your money – you learn to ignore them.
So someone has decided we need a refreshing change. Here’s a comment I got the other day:
The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.
Hey, that could be true of any blog… But before composing a measured reply – like “Shut up now and never speak to another human being again, or I will kill you and everyone you are related to just to be certain that your vile genes are extinct” – I paused to check that it was genuine. After all, it did seem an odd thing to say about a cartoon of an elephant. Also there were three from the same address, the other two quite complimentary and all of them linked to some site in Polish about soccer.
Yes it’s just another example of phony Search Engine Optimisation, offering the ‘service’ of spamming blogs and message boards with posts containing links to a site on the (wholly untrue) grounds that these will be mistaken for genuine interest and so improve its search ranking.
Tip to spammers: Google is not run by crowd of slack-jawed morons.
And while SEO spamming was already a complete pain for people who have to keep message boards clean, now that you guys have decided to actually insult the sites you’re spamming, it’s become a lot more personal.
So I’m off to Poland, and I have a pointed stick for poking soccer balls.
The last week was of course dominated by 9/11, its conspiracy theories especially, but my attention was also arrested by a court in England which created some rather unusual and onerous conditions of bail. I ranted somewhat about the extraordinary birthday arrangements for Ireland’s disgraced former leader Bertie Ahern, and got good and mad with what seems like an ever-rising tide of ever-more-tedious spam.
But I’d swear, writing about spam attracts more spam. And writing about conspiracy theories attracts weirder spam. Look at this one:
We have learned a great deal about recovering from narcotic addiction and have found several methods that work well. This is information drug treatment programs would not want out since it would cause them to lose a large number of patients.
The what now? Are they offering me drug rehabilitation, or drug rehabilitation as a business opportunity? I don’t want to know.
The surprise hit of last week though was the one about the cyberstalking of Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google. It was picked up by a couple of other sites, including the formidable Reddit and the forums of the veteran Ctrl+Alt+Del webcomic. This made it the single most-read post of the blog so far. Lovely stuff. I encourage you all to follow this example and spam other sites about I.Doubt.It.
We all get email spam, but if you run a blog or administer a message board – I do both now – you have the pleasure of discovering whole new and different spam varieties. Generally it doesn’t shout at you like junk mail does. It’s altogether more refined, attempting to slip in its advertising payload – usually just a link – under the guise of a relevant contribution. Naturally though the writer (if the spam is actually written by a human) can’t possibly have the time to understand and contribute meaningfully to the discussion going on. If they did they wouldn’t be spammers. They’d be… welcome. Their posts therefore are purposefully bland – which, paradoxically, makes them easy to spot. We got the perfect example the other day:
You are not right. I can prove it.
Science has shown that this is the most likely statement to be found on any message board forum.
On blogs however the spam is more agreeable – agreeing, in fact, with about anything. Usually it’s along the lines of “I couldn’t have put it better myself. Here are some links to other articles that might interest you”. Which turn out of course to be adverts for crap like electronic cigarettes from Russia, or wood carving tools. I kid you not, I got one advertising wood carving tools today. Ostensibly at least; the site it linked to talked about such tools, but offered no way to actually buy them. Something else is going on here, more subtle than just advertising.
There is a belief that the more links there are to your site, the higher it will be ranked by search engines. This is an oversimplification, but people still pay Search Engine Optimization services to improve their page ranking. Some of these “experts” then pay spammers to clog up and overwhelm boards and blogs. Real humans then have to clean up the mess.