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Guest

For the Love of Spam

By: Guest | February 19, 2013 | 
79

Today’s guest post is by Amy Vernon

Spam fascinates me.

Spam filters grow ever more clever, stopping it from even getting to us, more often than not.

We’re all tired of it.

But it works, apparently. Enough for people to keep doing it.

Enough for people to keep sending ot invitations for us to buy pills, sex, or indirectly, money.

Spam has different goals: Sometimes it’s to get a backlink.

Sometimes it’s a phishing scam. Sometimes they simply just want to separate you from you from your money by promising you narcotics or Viagra at a fraction of their usual cost (and no prescription needed).

Spam for Lovers

One of my personal recent favorites escalated from simply messages from “ladie” for me, to “Serbian sluts.” No reaction? OK, how about browsing photos of some Jewish single people? You know, if that’s more your speed.

I want to meet the people who click on these. Does anyone really believe they’ve been lucky enough to receive a random offer of randy Serbian women ready to meet with them? And why Serbian? Why not Ukranian? Congolese? Canadian? (Who knows – maybe in Serbia, the spammy ladies who are ready and waiting actually ARE Canadian.)

My Facebook “other” inbox right now is overflowing with people telling me how beautiful I am. And would I maybe like to just chat with them?

One particularly, from Sgt. Bob, was fabulous in its depth. He’s divorced and in the U.S. Army. Or works for the U.S. Army. Or something like that. Anyway, he was soft searching (which means?) for an old friend and saw my profile. Well, it turns out I am the kind of woman he’s been searching for! Can you imagine that?

What are the odds? I’m the luckiest girl in the world, because he’s not into cybersex or anything, just wants a friend. And wants to spend the rest of his life with me. 

Look – dude was up at 5:14 a.m. If that’s not sincerity, I don’t know what is.

Spam to Motivate

And I’ve also been provided info that’s super-important. I’m not sure what it was, because I really just haven’t had the time to call. If you called, let me know. I’m sure it’s a major investment tip.

I also like the personal encouragement this next guy had for me. I mean, isn’t it time I stopped procrastinating? However, I doubt I’ll wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. After all, that’s what procrastination is, right?

Spam Deep Thoughts

My true spam love, however, is blog comment spam. So much so that I started a Tumblr for it a while back.

It’s easy to spam blog comments with a list of keywords and some spammy linkbacks. It’s another skill entirely to craft what is very nearly poetry.

“Man if i ever saw two racoons fighting over a blogs itd (sic) be this one, nicely done my friend. Keep it up.”

That’s my all-time favorite blog comment spam. I mean, I didn’t even know that raccoons read. And definitely didn’t know they had Internet service in the woods. Probably dial-up, but still.

That’s one of those comments, though, that makes me wonder what the creator was thinking. Why raccoons? What was the spambot programmed with that led it to come up with that?

A close second is this one, which is nearly worthy of being a Zen kōan: “What happens if you get scared half to death twice?”

Simple math would indicate you’re just a quarter alive. But I feel as if the answer can’t be quite so simple as that.

Like the sound of one hand clapping, the answer is both simple and unanswerable.

A 20-year veteran of newspaper journalism, Amy Vernon is general manager of social marketing for NYC tech startup Internet Media Labs, which creates tools and platforms to help tame the social web. Amy is an inaugural inductee of the New Jersey Social Media Hall of Fame and top female submitter of all time on Digg.com.

79 comments
MZazeela
MZazeela

Thanks Amy. I have a new appreciation for SPAM! From now on, I will click on every link, provide all of the info they want, and completely disable my email SPAM filters. :-)

 

Cheers,

Marc

AmyVernon
AmyVernon

@shonali @ginidietrich :) I'm going to be posting a real winner I just got this morning. :)

psd101970
psd101970

@JeffSheehan @AmyVernon @SpinSucks Web spam is the electronic automated version of the Billy Liar #Labour Spin Machine

AmyVernon
AmyVernon

@C_Pappas @SpinSucks Glad you enjoyed! :)

Allison Leahy
Allison Leahy

I've been known to appreciate blog comment spam now and again; haven't been hit with flirtatious Facebook requests yet. Thanks for the fresh take! Still, spambots are insidious and it aches when they attack relentlessly, wreaking havoc on servers and challenging entire systems--taking precious engineering talent away from development. Difficult but necessary work to stay three steps ahead.

allenmireles
allenmireles

I read this last night on my phone and then was unable to comment because my iPhone went all wonky and I'm-not-gonna-let-you-comment on me. So, today, here I go: what a delightfully and appropriately absurd take on the nuisance-that-is-spam. I find it annoying, yet when I look at it from your perspective it is truly funny. Thanks for that, @AmyVernon, you do make me smile. And think. Enjoyed this post and find myself pondering, hours and hours later. #markofagoodpost 

AmyVernon
AmyVernon

@martinwaxman @spinsucks ;) When you start to look for the humor in it, it can be a glorious thing.

AmyVernon
AmyVernon

@ginidietrich it is truly special, my relationship with spam

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

Do you follow @Horse_ebooks? I love the tweets & backstory of the account.... http://gawker.com/5887697/

 

Spam is a hoot. I work out of a team inbox that gets close to 1,000 emails a day, so there's no shortage of junk mail. Recent favorite: "Spice improve brainpower." Which I guess is sort of a self-advertisement for not using spice.

 

Also, I wonder if others are seeing this or just me......does spam every now and then seem well written to you? Sometimes I read something and think, this is obviously fake, but it's a pretty good imitation.

 

MediaLabRat
MediaLabRat

Riddle me this, Batwoman: We were both at #smwknd this the weekend when the live stream was attacked with a vengeance by an onslaught of Twitter slutbots.  In looking back over the participant list on Sunday night, I calculated over 1000 (!) spam accounts that hit that stream at least once over the two day event. Seriously?

 

Is there really enough ROI for the spammers to go through the trouble to create 1000+ accounts to spam people with porn or virus links? And how can Twitter tolerate this even a little bit?  It is also an interesting observation that these bot accounts don't show up when you are viewing a hashtag stream on native Twitter or Twitter apps, but they run wild on third party platforms like hootsuite and SeeS.aw.  I smell a rat, and not of the MediaLab kind ;)

 

 

scmmas
scmmas

@ginidietrich @amyvernon in the immortal words of Graham Chapman, "I don't like Spam!"

maggielmcg
maggielmcg

My favorite is the blog comment spam that is all nasty and derogatory--like "this blog is terrible, the writing is horrible, etc"--it's like someone led a webinar in the reverse psychology of the old standby "Great post!" comment.

ifdyperez
ifdyperez

YES! Thanks for this, @AmyVernon ! I've actually been wanting to read something on spam since, for some reason, my email spam count has gone up 3-4x in the past few weeks. After getting invitations to save hostages in Siberia or meet a young girl online, I always think to myself, "If I worked for a spam company, I'd help them target their email marketing much better." LOL! Thanks for the laughs, Amy!

AmandaMagee
AmandaMagee

This is brilliant.

 

I once received a spam comment that was so perfectly suited to my modd and the post that I gave it an approving nod, then I cracked up at my self. 

 

shonali
shonali

@AmyVernon Can't wait. ;) @ginidietrich

C_Pappas
C_Pappas

@AmyVernon I super enjoyed it. Thanks!

AmyVernon
AmyVernon

 @Allison Leahy Absolutely, Allison. I do have to say, most of this spam does actually get caught by Askimet or Gmail's spam filters or FB puts them in the "other" email. I check those mainly so I don't miss the very occasional non-spam post that gets caught, but I do peruse all the other stuff, just to see what amuses me. :)

martinwaxman
martinwaxman

@AmyVernon @SpinSucks I'll have to adopt that approach and make it collectible the way you do

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

 @MediaLabRat Twitter needs to start charging. Will stop all those crap accounts dead in their tracks.

Latest blog post:

desertronin
desertronin

@ginidietrich Not at all, just admiring your good taste. :-)

AmyVernon
AmyVernon

@scmmas @ginidietrich spam spam spam spam!

MrTonyDowling
MrTonyDowling

@AmyVernon @MrTonyDowling @ginidietrich because constant exposure to the stuff reduces your ability to differentiate?

AmyVernon
AmyVernon

@martinwaxman @SpinSucks If you can't beat 'em, laugh at 'em. :)

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

 @Frank_Strong Somehow, I've missed this, even though he was a FF on SpinSucks in November. Course now corrected. and thank you! =)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@desertronin I do have good taste, don't I?

SpinSucks
SpinSucks

@AmyVernon @martinwaxman Love it, and I usually do :)

AmyVernon
AmyVernon

@desertronin @ginidietrich And then only the cats in the tubes would be hurt.

desertronin
desertronin

@amyvernon @ginidietrich I know! The Interwebz might get all explode-ie

AmyVernon
AmyVernon

@desertronin @ginidietrich not GOOD TASTE! Heaven fofend.

desertronin
desertronin

@ginidietrich Absolutely, as does @amyvernon :-) (See what I did there? ;-) ) Good taste in social media, it could start a trend