Thursday, December 01, 2011

I Don't Understand the Spammers

 
There are people somewhere who scour the blogs posting comments containing links to various websites. The object, I think, is to boost their scores on the search engines but I'm not sure this actually works. I imagine that these people are being paid to post comments.

I get about 20 of these spam comments per day. Since I moderate comments they never get posted and you, dear readers, never see them. The Blogger spam catcher puts most of them in the spam bucket.

So what's the point? The people posting these comments are wasting their time, and wasting my time as well. Is that the goal? I don't get it.


14 comments :

  1. Probably most of the spam comments are from bots: it's fairly easy to create a script that will post millions of spam comments without any human interaction. Computer time is cheap. Any non-botted spam comments (a distinct minority) will have been written by someone in a country with low wages. Their time is also cheap.

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  2. It's all automatic, so not wasting their time. Their programs just look at blog after blog to find ones where they can leave comments. The goal is to boost their ratings on Google etc. Meanwhile, Google energetically tries to discern which blogs have spam comments so that they can be downgraded, so it's wise to keep those comments off, as you're doing.

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  3. Disqus. Seriously, look into it. My blog got spammed constantly by Dennis Markuze (or whatever his name was) for months, and John (Debunking Christianity) and Jen (Blag Hag) had the same problem.

    We all switched to Disqus for our comments, and just like that, no spam. You can block IP addresses if necessary. Plus it looks better, and you can have replies to comments, likes, and threaded comments if you want. I highly recommended it. I haven't had to moderate comments in over a year.

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  4. Parasites will lay their eggs anywhere.

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  5. Wow! I have been to many websites on the internet, but rarely do I find one with such useful information as this one.

    (Sadly, I have seen a few bloggers not recognize this sort of thing as spam, and even respond with thanks for the kind words.)

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  6. The Spam Museum is in Austin, Minnesota. I have been there.

    Spam is crazy tasty.

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  7. Spam is based on a receiver pays model. The incremental cost of sending another spam message is so close to zero you would need to use limit theory to work with it.

    The real problem is that group of idiots that respond to spam. As long as there are cretins out there that will follow a link to a PeN1s enlargement site spammers will be motivated to keep pumping it out. If you send out a million spam messages and 10 people respond you are making money.

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  8. I guess I didn't make myself clear.

    In order to post spam comment on Sandwalk the spammers have to get by the word recognition blockade AND get by me.

    The fact they have to recognize a word means they must be humans, right? A little checking would reveal that none of their comments ever get posted so why do they bother?

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  9. As CAPTCHAs go, the one on your site is quite amenable to character recognition techniques and given that you are probably using a standard template for your blog makes it even easier for software based circumvention.

    Even if there is a human involved, they actually never visit your site, the spam software strips out the CAPTCHA portion and forwards it to 3rd world cheap labour who are paid on the order of $0.50 per thousand CAPTCHAs that they solve.

    It's porn and spam that make the internet go around, make no mistake about that.

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  10. When you see the phrase "dear readers", you know you're being suckered. Move on...

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  11. You seem to be expecting some kind of quality-assurance for spammers. Why check on a successful post-rate when it's easier to just double the number of messages sent out? Some will get through, somewhere.

    If you send out 10 million messages, and some fraction of those are in the form of attempts to post comments on blogs, how much extra effort would you have to put in to ensure your messages get past spam filters / comment word verification / oversight by a blog author? Random guessing would get you past some fraction of the word verification, and would probably not be too difficult to implement. Carefully crafting individualized messages to get past a blog author requires a human.

    Since we're not seeing those comments here (because Dr. Moran is suppressing any that sneak past the first few defensive lines), the spam authors are 'bots, most likely.

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  12. steve oberski says,

    Even if there is a human involved, they actually never visit your site, the spam software strips out the CAPTCHA portion and forwards it to 3rd world cheap labour who are paid on the order of $0.50 per thousand CAPTCHAs that they solve.

    Thanks. That the best explanation I've heard. In fact, it's the only explanation that makes sense.

    Next question. If the actual comment is being posted by an algorithm then it probably selects from a list of short comments like; "The Dude is completely just and there is no suspicion," "This can't truly have success, I hope so" and "It can't really have success, I hope this way."

    It wouldn't take more that a few seconds for someone who actually speaks English to fix those comments. Why don't they?

    Is there a way to fight back? One of the constant spammers on Sandwalk is a Spanish furniture company. Couldn't we make sure that the top hit on Google made it clear that this company pays for internet spamming?

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  13. "Plus Disqus looks better,"

    One thing all people on Blogger could do to make things look better without switching to a new commenting system is to drop that terrible Recent Comments gadget they got from the Blogger Gadget Directory (it's made by a third-party called Blogger Buster--not by Blogger or Google) and replace it with one that actually works, like the one I made called Last Comments. No more #39;s, no more lag between comments being posted and showing up in the recent comments feed, and it was field tested by John Loftus himself at Debunking Christianity where we worked most of the bugs out of it.

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  14. "It wouldn't take more that a few seconds for someone who actually speaks English to fix those comments. Why don't they?"

    Because generally on blogger sites, nobody reads the comments anyway. The people who speak english cost too much to employ for these purposes.

    "Is there a way to fight back?"
    Generally by using specialized comments services, but otherwise there are so many people who let their sites get spammed that the SEOs will always be in employ.

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