The Generations of Spam

More than a decade ago when I used Hotmail, I was getting more spam than normal e-mail. I can’t remember the details. It was the shear weight…

Now I get only rare spam via GMail but I have a blog and the spam keeps evolving. At first is was a lot of links to whatnot and “buy Viagra”. Now it’s a lot more subtle. I actually have to read what’s in the Spam bin to decide whether or not it’s spam or not. Akismet does a good job but many of my commenters dance and sway enough to get in there fairly regularly.

Remember the Nigerian scams with a scheme like “so and so has died leaving money locked in an account…”? Now I get all kinds of advice about how to boost ratings for the blog in general terms, or they suggest my spelling is terrible. There’s always some little story like “I found this via Google but it was hard…” or “Thank you so much for this information…” but you can tell they have not even read the blog because there’s no information connected with the subject matter.

Now the spam is linking to stories and giving relevant comments but just barely so, like a keyword or two will make sense or they will quote something and give a nonsensical comment. That’s really hard to tell from regular commentators who like to twist facts to fit their pet theories/beliefs/religions.

I suppose the ultimate answer is to hire a moderator with ruthless decisiveness but the volume is nowhere near needing that yet. I may just cut off comments after a few hours and leave it at that. Another alternative is to create accounts and limit comments to account holders. That could become a burden too.

It seems spam has evolved from just selling products to leveraging the web to visit certain sites where stuff is sold/promoted. It’s just getting so noisy. No matter. I can still have fun with IT on my own LAN and the web. That is changing too but at least there something is always improving.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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3 Responses to The Generations of Spam

  1. dougman says:

    Been meaning to send this for awhile.

    Perhaps you could start a pay forum?

    People who sign up for subscription-based membership are people who have goals that they’re willing to pay to achieve. They want information, and they’re willing to pay for it. They perceive that they are likely to interact with the higher class of participants when they belong to a membership site.

    Your time is valuable. If you spend a lot of time debating with flamers, you will waste your time, and you will not get the kind of information that is practical, which can be used to further your goals.

    Flamers delight in luring people into discussions with them. They are unteachable. They have no influence in life. My suspicion is that they don’t have much money. They have no experience in anything related to their supposed areas of expertise. They have not spent long years in the trenches in order to master the skills associated with a particular job or calling in life. But they have strong opinions, and they express these opinions strongly.

    When I join a membership site, I want to get feedback from people who have experience, and who have had enough success in life that they feel they can afford a few dollars a month to belong to a membership site. They will not waste my time. I am far more likely to get practical, cost-effective information from participants on a forum that is located behind a membership wall.

    A percentage of these people feel internally compelled to share their opinions with me. A percentage of these, perhaps half, want to show me that I do not know what I’m talking about.

    These people are strangers. On only the rarest of occasions do they have their own websites. They do not send me detailed articles criticizing my articles. They send me an e-mail, and very often it is an outraged e-mail.

    Typically ignorant individuals resort to obscenities and this is the classic mark of a failure in life. This individual is incapable of organizing his thoughts in a coherent way, and he is emotionally incapable of interacting with people in such a way as to persuade them that he has an IQ above 90. He does not understand, or he does not care, that he is not going to persuade the recipients of his communications. He is like a child rolling on the floor and screaming. He does it to get attention, but in a well-organized household, a child will learn that his tantrums do not bring positive sanctions.

    People on subscription-based forums rarely do anything like this. They know they will be thrown off by the moderator. They guard their tongues. But people who have neither the financial resources nor the personal success necessary to join a subscription-based site are ready to send their e-mails or post their flames under an assumed name.

    What I have found over the years is that the number of people who are like the person who send nasty e-mails or messages is really miniscule on subscription-based sites. People who pay to get information are far more interested in getting accurate information than they are in spouting off. Even the ones who spout off are usually well informed, which means they’re spouting off from a position of strength. The anonymous flamers do not have any position of strength backing up what they post, and I suspect it is because they don’t have any position of strength backing up anything else in their lives.

  2. Mongrol says:

    MS have done a reasonably decent job of cleaning Hotmail up. Stuff in my Hotmail inbox is stuff I actually signed up for or want.

    I don’t know if this is because the anti-spam mechanisms are getting better, or simply because the spammers are getting caught and their botnets are starting to get shut down.

    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-07/20/spam-botnet-taken-down
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18189987

    My own opinion on spam is that SPF should be implemented globally. If done right (and it’s not hard) spam would be all but eradicated. The downside might be some DNS servers get the snot slapped out of them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    “Now the spam is linking to stories and giving relevant comments but just barely so, like a keyword or two will make sense or they will quote something and give a nonsensical comment. ”

    That sounds like Oiaohm. ๐Ÿ™‚

    “Thatโ€™s really hard to tell from regular commentators who like to twist facts to fit their pet theories/beliefs/religions.”

    And you were doing so well up to this point. Is it so hard for you to accept that others may have a point of view that differs from yours?

    “Another alternative is to create accounts and limit comments to account holders.”

    Be prepared to implement captchas and/or email verification if to do this. The spammers are getting clever and their bots can sign up for accounts for most blog/forum systems.

  3. kozmcrae says:

    Yes, I’ve encountered spam on your blog first hand. Someone keeps trying to get me to use the security software Tripwire.

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