Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam.

I’ve never understood why people send spam mail or leave spam comments on blog posts (in the same way I don’t understand why people scribble graffiti tags on trains and walls), but I know that for spammers who really take it seriously there is big money to be made. I suppose in that sense, I DO understand why people create spam if there is the opportunity to make money from it… I guess what I don’t understand is how there continues to be constant stream of people who are gullible enough to take action on the messages and, in doing so, continue to generate an income for the spammers.

Let’s face it, the thing that keeps spam propagating and growing (and therefore making it worthwhile for the spammers to keep sending it) is the fact that there are enough gullible, stupid people in the world who keep responding to it.  If we all were much better at identifying and recognising spam as soon as we saw it, then the spammers would eventually go away because the financial incentive to do so would also disappear. Fortunately for them – and unfortunately for the rest of us – human gullibility (or stupidity) will probably ensure them an income for a while yet.

Having said that, the spam filtering in Gmail is pretty darn good. I currently have a few hundred spam messages sitting in my Gmail’s spam folder which have thankfully been identified and filtered before they get to me, so I don’t ever need to see them. They just disappear from the system after 30 days. Thanks to Matt Cutts and his team at Google, Gmail does a great job keeping the spam away. Thanks Matt!

One of things that happens to any blog as it grows is a substantial increase in the amount of spam comments it receives. Most spam comments are just plain annoying, and many are quite laughable, but it’s a good idea to deal with them before they have a chance to be published.  For example, this blog receives many comments that are never published thanks to the powerful Akismet spam filter running on the backend.  This WordPress plugin tracks my spam statistics, and in the two years that this blog has been running on its current server, the Akismet spam filter has trapped almost 11,000 spam comments with an accuracy rate of 99.8%. That’s an awful lot of comments that never see the light of day!

I wanted to share some of the most recent spam comments because they are kind of insidious.  On the surface they look harmless, perhaps even positive. For example…

My brother suggested I would possibly like this blog. He was entirely right. This publish actually made my day. You can not imagine just how a lot time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

A very impressive article. Well prepared. Very motivating!! Set off on to way

Good writing here I really really like the way you write your blogs. I will continue to visit your site in the future to read more great blog posts like this one! This is an awesome post here.

I dont genuinely know what youre talking about here. This cant be the only method to believe about this can it? It seems like you know a whole lot about the subject, so why not explore it much more? Make it much more accessible to every person else who might not agree with you? Youd get a whole lot a lot more men and women behind this if you just stopped making general statements.

Good day very nice website!! Man .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your website and take the feeds also?I am satisfied to seek out so many useful info here within the put up, we want work out extra strategies on this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

An newsworthy speech is couturier comment. I consider that you should indite solon on this matter, it might not be a taboo mortal but generally group are not sufficiency to talk on such topics. To the succeeding.

On the surface it looks like people are leaving positive comments in response to something I’d written. However, aside from the extremely poor grammar, often a reliable indicator of spam, these comments are so generic as to be completely meaningless. By constructing comments in this way, spammers can spray them across thousands of posts on thousands of blogs in the hope that some will get posted. Unsuspecting bloggers, especially newer bloggers who are often keen to receive any sort of comments, sometimes fail to see these comments for what they are. Not surprising really, since the whole point is to trick you into publishing them.

I’m still not really sure what the point of these generic spam comments is. They don’t contain links to click, so they don’t appear to be able to lead you to an outright scam or scheme. They generally aren’t asking for money, or have any real call-to-action. They are just annoying. They gum up the Internet, clutter our email and clog up our blog feeds, but for no apparent purpose.

Let’s all be more vigilant about spam. If you don’t already, using Gmail is a good first step. Installing Akismet on your blog helps a great deal too. But mostly, stay aware of what spam looks like, and never, ever respond to it. Ever.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam. by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

5 Replies to “Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam.”

  1. Good writing here I really really like the way you write your blogs. I will continue to visit your site in the future to read more great blog posts like this one! This is an awesome post here.

    🙂

    The response rate for spam to make money is pretty low’ I’ve read of numbers of needing 1/100,000 responses to make it successful:
    http://www.thefreemanonline.org/featured/the-economics-of-spam/

    or even 1/12,000,000,000
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7719281.stm

    I’ve had similar reaction as you- if the spam software just generated messages with better grammar, they would go quite far. I have gotten a few that seem to have extracted content from my original post. The URL is usually a dead giveaway; I am surprised more of them are not using url shorteners that would obscure the URL.

    I run a twitter account to turn spam into stories
    http://twitter.com/spamstories

    If you want to contribute, let me know- you have to try and make something tasty out of raw spam!

  2. Hi Alan,

    My brother suggested I would possibly like this comment. He was entirely right.

    Yeah, they economics of spam are hard to get your head around because, a) the response rate is so damn low, and b) it still makes a butt-load of money for those that send it. I guess there is just a hell of a lot of gullible people out there on the Interwebs!

    Spam Stories looks fascinating… how’s it work? Is it just a collection of spam comments? Do you process the spam into something else? (Mmm, processed spam.)

  3. Chris, I get a lot of those same spam comments that Akismet filters out. And quite well, I might add. The ones that wind up in the spam section often have links to various and (I assume) nefarious webpages. So in that manner, I think the people sending them (or, more accurately, people who write the scripts that send them) are hoping their links wind up on some unsuspecting, unprotected blog. There has to be a payoff somewhere, that the .0001% of linked names will actually get clicked.

  4. The vast majority of spam comments I receive, even if they don’t have links in the body of the comment, have the name linked to a spammy site.

    In regard to the spam comments that do not have any URL at all, I’m guessing that they are done for some testing purpose, or perhaps in the hope that a first comment will be moderated and that that will increase the chance of later comments, with links, getting through the filter.

That's all well and good, but what do YOU think?