Spam: at least it’s polite
As I write more and more on this blog, I get an increasing amount of views. (Let me take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been sharing and commenting on my posts!) With the higher view rate comes a corresponding increase in spam comments. Thankfully, the filters on WordPress are very good at spotting them. It was only recently that I got my first false-positive, which I wrote about at the time.
Of course, there is a lot of spam out there, and although I have the impression of getting a lot, it is really peanuts compared to the volumes really popular bloggers must get. At the moment, it’s still just about manageable. I can afford the luxury of at elast skimming over mine. Sometimes, it can be quite entertaining. I’ve even started making poems out of them (in both French and German).
Received wisdom about internet spam is that it’s all advertising for porn and penis enlargements. However, I don’t seem to get much of that. In fact, my spam is almost entirely composed of flattering comments about how good my blog is, followed by spam links. Sometimes the comment itself contains no link a all; instead, the link is contained in the commenter’s information. On the whole, then, reading my spam comments is actually quite a nice experience; so much so that I’ve made this word cloud:
Using the last 10 days’ worth of spam comments, I copied about 13000 words into the Wordle application to get this picture. I used the “ignore common English words” setting, and pruned out a few very common German words (der, die, das, von, zu) by hand (looking again, I see I missed “und”).
As you can see, several nice, polite words turn up quite a lot. “thanks”, “great”,”Hi”, “nice”, “like”, “informative”, “interesting”, “awesome, “appreciate”, etc. By contrast, there are hardly any negative words. There’s also “Moncler” and “Winterjacken”, which is the result of a single, particularly repetitive comment.
So, most of the spam I get is polite and complimentary. Several ask questions about blogging software, too. I especially liked the irony of the following spam comment:
Howdy, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of
spam comments? If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or anything you can suggest?
I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any help is very much appreciated.
No comment needed, really.
Finally, every so often a spam comment comes along which is uncannily close to being real. Consider the following:
Through the evolution of the language, many words and phrases are no longer used in French. Also, there are those that, even though grammatically correct, do not have the same meaning in French as the English words that derive from them.
From the commenter’s identifying information, I could tell they were a spammer. However, other than that it would be a perfectly reasonable comment to leave under my recent post about how the french language has been changed by technological developments. Unfortunately for the spammer, it was “written” in response to a completely unrelated post, another red flag.
This is now my fourth post in a month about spam. These tend to result in my getting yet more spam, in a vicious cycle of unwanted communication. So why do I keep doing it? Well, spam is data. If I’m going to get spam, I might as well put it to some use, right? I’m guessing there are even people whose job it is to study spam: you could thus argue that spam makes at least some contribution to the world!
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