Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Ways of the Spammer are Mysterious, My Child

I take the point of view that if I want something from other people, I should make it as easy as possible. I like comments - hey, it's nice to know that someone actually reads these meandering entries - so I got rid of the need to type in the blurry, slanty word to prove that you're a machine that can read blurry, slanty words, and not a human being who can't read blurry, slanty words. Or something like that.

From others' experiences, I knew that there were such things as blog spammers - automated thingies that put links to male enhancement products and such into unsuspecting blogs' comments - but I figured there wouldn't be an intolerable number; after all, you lovely people are in a special minority even knowing of the existence of these scrivenings. Because Blogger tags most of these as spam, the comments usually don't show up on the blog even for the day or two it would take for me to remember to check and take them down.

For the most part, that hasn't been a bad assumption. I seem to be averaging one or two spam comments per post, which is easy enough to clean up once or twice a week. I haven't regretted turning off the slanty, blurry feature. What gets me is that anyone finds this technique to be effective. I've had what appear to be links to er*tic sites in German, and something completely incomprehensible in Cyrillic. I've had comments that were obviously spam, but entirely nonsensical - did those comments contain a nasty virus that was stripped out by Blogger and/or Gmail, so it appeared to me as plain text nonsense? Who clicks on these links? Who reads my Caledon blah blah blah and then decides that a male enhancement product is just the thing? Haven't these people heard of targeted marketing? We're living in a world of increasingly targeted advertising - your cell phone can send you come-ons for the coffee shop you're about to pass - so why don't the spammers do a little targeting themselves? I wouldn't find it nearly so bothersome if the come-ons were for Steampunk jewelry on etsy, or a promotional piece for the Clockwork Cabaret.


Fogwoman Gray said...

Based on the content of the copious email spam I receive, the targeted attack on the Steamlands Wiki last July by pharma-spammers, and some of the comments I get from patients in our clinics - I would have to say that the shotgun strategy pays off.
I think the secret is that there is a minimal amount of investment needed by the spammers. While targeted ads cost money, this sort of spam can be accomplished with software as I understand it.
And the target market for these ads is not you and I, these ads are marketed to those who lack access to healthcare information or who are simply desperate to believe that they can get drugs that are only available by prescription (and at high cost) from these drug counterfeiters.

Rhianon Jameson said...

You could well be right, Mrs. V. It's certainly sad if desperation makes people click on questionable links.

Anonymous said...

The spammers are "bots". Some might troll your content but most are just designed to get whatever the message is out there to as many places as possible.

Rhianon Jameson said...

True - I was under no illusions that people leaving links to Russian p*rn were actually reading the blog, though, of course, I'd be delighted if that were the case. But my goodness these bots are persistent!