One thing about writing this online internet log thing means dealing with one of the inevitable uglies of the internet. Yes, it’s that dreaded four letter word that invokes a wretched feeling deep in the gullet of any internet user – spam.
Yes, we’re not immune to spam comments here, but thankfully WordPress uses a very good spam filter called Akismet that catches 99.9% of them. Spammers sure are getting smarter these days, crafting comments that look like genuine comments but are really automatons using less direct comments in an attempt to trick people. This is probably not spam so much as phishing, but phishing generally is far more malicious.
For instance, take this lovely comment left the other day.
“Hey I just received a alert from my antivirus when I opened your blog do you know why this occured? Could it maybe from your advertising or something? Thanks, really odd i pray it was harmless?”
Now, this COULD be a genuine comment, given people’s terrible spelling and grammar on the internet. Alas, the random generic gmail address and link to some terrible website exposes this comment for the fraud that it is. For shame!
Of course, they get a little smarter, like this one posted on my post about chalky candy hearts.
“This blog is pretty cool and I came across it looking for some ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts. I’m really late on buying my girlfriend a gift.. does anybody have any good ideas on what to get?”
This, again, could be a genuine comment, but once again the URL link supplied by the commenter is to a poorly set up business website. This is actually a strategy to manipulate Google page rankings. By having spam comments in all sorts of blogs, they artificially inflate their importance to Google (which uses links from pages to your own page to influence how high you should show up in search results). Most likely they don’t expect people to actually click through these links if they somehow escape spam filters, that’s just an ancillary bonus.
Then there’s people like this, with another sort of lame generic comment.
“I’ve just bookmarked this, is it blackberry compatible so I can read it on my commute?”
Now, what set this guy apart is that his spam site linked to an airline. Unfortunately, the airline looks to be fake, as I couldn’t find any photos of their planes on airliners.net. Sorrry dude – you can’t fool me on that front.
Of course, the most clever spam comment I’ve found today is one that would fool most people who don’t pay too much attention.
“my God, i thought you were going to chip in with some decisive insght at the end there, not leave it with �we leave it to you to decide�.”
This was on my post about XBox Abuse Syndrome, and the user’s email and web address were both XBox related. They could have almost won on this one, but the fact is, I did not end like that either in a literal or metaphoric sense. Classic trademark of automatons posting spam comments – they just can’t think. Also, the website was a terrible Facebook-alike and… well, it’s clearly a robot posting. That doesn’t really make me want to use their website.
Later on, we get to someone whose first language is clearly not English.
“I would like to thank you for the endeavors you have made in composing this article. I am desiring the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your fanciful writing abilities has inspired me to start my own blog now. Genuinely the blogging is distributing its wings rapidly. Your write up is a fine illustration of it.”
These complementary comments are the funniest, because they’re hoping someone is dumb enough to not see through how transparently awful it is. Plus, once again, the username, email address, and URL combinations are excellent filters to determine whether or not someone is “real.” Linking to a barely trafficked terrible forum is monumentally stupid.
Of course, Spam isn’t all that bad. It did give us Spamusement, a now-dead mostly funny internet comic strip taking actual spam and trying to make it funny. Sometimes it’s hit or miss, but given all the grief that spam gives us, I think it’s fair to poke back.