A Pause To Spew My Hatred of Spam

A typical day at Ethics Alarms!

One reason, not the only one, but one of them, that I was foiled trying to respond to a series of critical posts on an online forum was that fear of spam had caused the administrators to make it insanely difficult for me to post there—just another way for online spam to plague me. According to Akismet, WordPress’s excellent spam detection service, I now have reviewed and deleted over 45,000 pieces of spam since Ethics Alarms began. (I have to check the spam because occasionally it traps a genuine comment, kind of like dolphins getting caught in tuna nets.)

Let me be clear: I hate these people. I hate the people who send spam, the people who employ spam services, the people who write the deceitful, stupid spam messages, and the spamming outfits that make their grimy living off of it. There is no such thing as an ethical spammer or an ethical company that assists in spamming. By definition, spam is dishonest, as it pretends to offer content when there is none, and purports to represent genuine interest in the site, when it is only interesting in planting a link that will maximize a commercial site’s SEO.

Spam is not only dishonest, but it is insultingly dishonest, because it is so obvious. On a typical day, I may get an innocuous  comment from “Bessie” that says, “Great post! It is really awesome how you write these reviews. I am going to bookmark your blog for sure! Keep it up!”  Then, oddly, there will be identical messages from four other commenters, all on the same post with different names and websites. What a coincidence!

This isn’t the most insulting spam; this is:

“9RrFXh yrlwydreboer, [url=http://eheychakezqy.com/]eheychakezqy[/url], [link=http://aaiubgekqvpq.com/]aaiubgekqvpq[/link], http://tmtjyvpntxiu.com/”

…. sent in by someone named “fnljjzq.” I wonder if he knows Mr. Mr. Mxyzptlk?  Some days I’ll get 50 comments like this, all with different gibberish and different imbedded links.

Then there are what I call the “I like ice cream; can you swim?” messages, like this one, from someone named “Nike Vapor Superfly,” who writes,

“I like the blog.This article was written well if you want buy cheap soccer shoes, go to Nike Mercurial Vapor Soccer.

What a clever segue!  Indeed flattery is the obvious weapon of choice among spammers, and it must work. How else to explain this piece of spam, which gushes…

“This is a smart blog. I mean it. You have so much knowledge about this issue, and so much passion. You also know how to make people rally behind it, obviously from the responses. Youve got a design here thats not too flashy, but makes a statement as big as what youre saying. Great job, indeed.”

Why thank you! It’s so nice to be appreciated in one’s own lifetime, and if it wasn’t for the fact that 1) your comment contained no evidence that it was written by someone who actually read my post (often this kind of message turns up on a post that no one could conceivably regard as passionate or significant), and 2) your name wasn’t  “alternative medicine,”  I’d be touched to the core.

A reader named “Ford Ranger 2012” (actually the scum-sucking marketing hack who wrote the comment and sent out thousands of them) thought that a little self-deprecation would keep me from hitting the “send to spam hell” button. Ford writes:

“Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I would like to put in writing like this additionally – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and by no means seem to get something done.” 

This also sounds like it was translated from spam originally composed in Japanese.

Sometimes spam has an existential, Gertrude Steinish quality, which almost makes me sad to kill it, so intriguing is its oddness. Like this, which came today:

“A client may ever be in the spy of morality but module ever rise above a cats glossa.” 

The writer of that might even really be named “wedding dresses uk;” the delicate poetic gibberish almost makes me want to trust her…or him. Or it. Almost.

It certainly is a great deal more trustworthy than “Clarinda’s “There’s a trriefic amount of knowledge in this article!” regarding a post containing no “knowledge” at all, and opening the floodgates to twelve similar but not identical messages spelling terrific “trriefic.” What does it all mean? And what does this mean, from the exotically monickered  “bucino ulje”:

“I simply needed to say thanks once again. I do not know the things that I would’ve handled in the absence of these aspects provided by you on that concern. Certainly was a intimidating condition for me, however , taking note of the expert tactic you managed it forced me to leap for contentment. I am just happier for your guidance and as well , have high hopes you recognize what a great job your are carrying out training many people with the aid of a site. I’m certain you have never encountered all of us.”

I’m glad you got that off your chest, bucino. It might have been malignant.

Spam exists because lazy websites allow it, thus making it profitable for these web cheaters and liars to waste my time and those of literally millions of other bloggers. Spammers, like phone solicitors, shoplifters, litterers, polluters, hackers, and identity thieves all are part of the vast network of sociopaths who make life just a little crummier for everybody. They’ll probably be the ones rioting, too, like the idiots in Greece and the thugs in Great Britain, when those budget cuts can’t be put off any longer.

Spam can be funny in its cretinous way, but what isn’t funny is that there is so much of it, reminding me daily that those of us who want to nurture an ethical culture have a lot stacked against us.

Or as “Daysia” succinctly put it in a comment I received while writing this post,

“I was so confused about what to buy, but this makes it understnadable (sic.).”

How true. How true.

8 thoughts on “A Pause To Spew My Hatred of Spam

  1. Or, as MMORPG players like myself can attest, constant spambots with a list of players and a /whisper macro.

    Nothing like missing the group leader’s orders and wiping (everyone dies) because of a chinese goldseller.

  2. As frustrating as it must be for popular bloggers like yourself, you can imagine what it’s like for those of us who are still trying to develop an audience. Every “new comment” message is imbued with a great significance, and when they start out with complimentary language, our hearts skip a beat and we think, “My God, I’ve reached someone.” And then we glimpse the grammar or the hyperlink and realize that for a split second we were taking praise from a robot, and it’s incredibly dispiriting. So I count emotional manipulation among the ethical outrages.

    • I do too, Ed, and I have been taken in a few times myself. It IS dispiriting. The Ethics Scoreboard was a website with a message board, rather than a blog, and I wrote in for four years, averaging as many comments in a month as Ethics Alarms gets in a day. There was little feedback, and little way to know whether anyone was reading, caring, or paying attention at all. it’s lonely, and you feel like a fool, sending opinions that nobody seems to want into cyberspace. That is exactly them the mindset spammer flattery exploits. It’s small wonder that it works.

    • Actually, AKISMET is pretty sharp–I thought it would flag YOUR comment as spam, and I know bloggers who would. Links to posts elsewhere on point are fine with me, if the poster shows that he or she really read the EA post and contributes something to the discussion. A good faith comment, in other words, and not part of a campaign to get a blog noticed.

      The link doesn’t have to ever be clicked on; just having the link on another site helps SEO, as I understand it. i can’t worry about how Google figures this stuff out; it will drive me crazy.

      I almost named my son tokyo5.

      • >I thought it would flag YOUR comment as spam, and I know bloggers who would.

        I don’t see why, honestly.

        >Links to posts elsewhere on point are fine with me, if the poster shows that he or she really read the EA post and contributes something to the discussion.

        I did read your post. It’s great too. Quite humorous.
        Sorry that I didn’t have much to contribute…simply my question (which my blog post link relates to)—does anyone actually ever click on a spam link?

        >not part of a campaign to get a blog noticed.

        I think that’s one of the wonders of the internet. Links.
        The subject of my post is related to the subject of this one.
        When I read an interesting post online, I’m happy to click on a related link to see more. I think other people are, too.

        >The (spam) link doesn’t have to ever be clicked on; just having the link on another site helps SEO

        (I don’t didn’t know what “SEO” stands for. (Thanks to the another wonder of the ‘net: Google, I see that it means “Search Engine Optimization”.)
        Well, I didn’t know that spammers didn’t need anyone to actually click their links. That’s interesting!

        >I almost named my son tokyo5.

        I know that you have on your “comment policies” that you want people leaving a comment to use their real, full name. But I’m a bit paranoid and over-protective of my family.
        It may very be perfectly safe to do so…but I’ve never typed my full name, address, phone number or any other personal details on my computer.
        (I’ve never purchased a single item online).

        I’d like to leave comments on your site, using only my “username”, if I may.

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