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How Rude

04/15/2011

When did spam go from annoying to insulting?

I monitor a couple of blogs. As part of that, I vet and delete a wide range of automated comments. Over the past year, I’ve noticed a shift in the spam-o-sphere. It used to be that junk comments consisted of innocuous and generic messages that might easily pass for a real post, something like, “Great article. Waiting for more.” The way you know these are fake is by the user data, which is always linked to some irrelevant business. (“Learn About White Magic Love Spells!”)

My recent favorite in this mode said, “I really like finding internet sites which comprehend the value of furnishing a good resource for absolutely free.” This linked to a site for high-waisted shorts.

Then there are the repeat offenders who try, unsuccessfully, to make their spam-bot comments sound “thoughful.” These things never make sense, though, and come in the form of long, rambly paragraphs with no discernible subject, written in broken English. The most recent example I got said this:

“Wonderful goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely magnificent. I actually like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it sensible. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a wonderful web site.”

Once in a while there’s a short, philosophical drive-by comment that has nothing to do with your post, your blog, or their Web site. Take this blanket-statement that popped up recently: “Liberty: One of imagination’s most precious possessions.” It linked to a public-service message about preventing Staph infection. Gee, thanks.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed a new trend in the long-form comment: rude spam. This is some kind of offshoot of the “thoughtful” type shown above, but instead of faking a considered analysis with a little friendly criticism, this variation comes right out and says your article sucks. Recent variations have commented that the post is full of factual errors (when it’s an opinion piece), that my research is sloppy (when no research is involved), and that I am an amateur who should learn to write better—OK, sure, better writing is always a goal, but it’s not as though these comments are specific, constructive, or helpful. I don’t mind if a real reader hates what I write. Real people get to have opinions about the articles they’ve read. Spam-bots don’t. These insulting comments are clearly fakes, but they’re annoying nevertheless.

If you’re a spammer, your goal should be to get your comment past my filters and manual vetting. Don’t draw attention to your junk-post status. Trust me, a big, fat insult is not going to fly under my radar. This is akin to getting junk e-mail that says, “You’re Ugly!”

Can’t we just go back to the generic compliments so I can delete them without getting all riled up? Something like this doesn’t take more than a second to ditch: “This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post. Also, I have shared your site in my social networks!”

Obviously, spammers are impolite. Spam is rude by its very nature. But can we take it back a notch on the prodding type? I don’t even know you. Don’t make me mad.

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From → Ponderings

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