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Ugly innovations in spam

12/09/2013

Akismet can be a pain in the arse.

Its sensitivity to spam is pretty good with less than 5% of them getting through to my blog (if you believe Akismet’s blocking statistics that is) but its specificity ain’t so hot considering its mechanism of action. Not only does it toss about 5% of legitimate comments into the spam folder without notifying you – where they can languish for some time unless you check it regularly – but it also takes an unaccountable dislike to some people, spam dumping every comment they make to every blog no matter how innocuous.

As far as I know there is no way to tweak the sensitivity and specificity of Akismet to fit your own usage patterns and comment volume but, from what I’m told, when something goes seriously awry user support is pretty much non-existent. If Akismet software decides it hates you you’re on your own.

Nonetheless, thanks to Akismet over 90% of the efforts spammers make to compromise my blog are to no avail and my readers never have to see them.

But in recent weeks I’ve been seeing a new kind of spam aimed at WordPress users that completely bypasses Akismet. Or at least I think I have.

When another WordPress user follows your blog you get an auto-generated email giving their blog handle and a suggestion to check out their blog. At the bottom is a list of recommended ‘great posts’ with hyperlinks.

Some of my recent ‘followers’ have handles like “buymystuffnow” and great posts like “Try new Jerkoff dick detergent!” (not actual examples). Their blogs turn out to be nothing but a list of low rent advertisements for the sort of trashy products you only ever see being flogged via moronic hardsell. Most of them immediately ‘unfollow’ after I’ve received the email.

I guess it’s possible these Turing test dropouts are real people sitting bored at their crap jobs posting rubbish ads to bogus blogs and occasionally surfing the blogosphere for something to break the tedium. But I doubt it.

I wonder how long it will be before the spammers get the idea to subscribe to blogs via email¹. That way, whenever I make a new post they’ll receive a message confirming my email address, which can then be accumulated into databases to be onsold to other spammers. Then it won’t be long before my inbox starts filling up with those imploring missives from ultra-hot, lonely Russian women desperate to get their hands on my body (Down ladies! Please. There’s only so much of me to go around you know).

Maybe WordPress needs to provide users the capability force those they would prefer didn’t receive their emails to ‘unfollow’ them.

Which brings me to the second unsettling discovery I made about spammers this week.

I am one. Well, kinda sorta.

I’d long wondered about the business model of WordPress. How could they turn a profit offering so much free bandwidth and user support to all those bloggers and blog readers on the modest charges they apply to premium upgrades that hardly anyone buys?

Turns out they don’t.

Some readers of my blog are subjected to ads for God-knows-what stuck to the bottom of my posts.

I should have guessed. The advertising industry has its putrid fingers in just about every pie in the world these days. Now they’re using content generated by me to attract readers to their manipulative consumerist memes.

*sigh*

For as long as I can remember I’ve had contempt for the entire notion of marketing. Sorry about that to any of you who are marketers, but when the revolution comes be sure to mention you are a Neurodrooling reader to receive your free VIP Club position up against the wall.

My brief stint of IT contracting in the Australian advertising industry only deepened my contempt. If you hate sausages, laws or ads be sure to avoid seeing how they are made. You will hate them even more and with the exception of sausages you’ll still be stuck with having them rammed down your throat for the rest of your life anyway.

Of course I could cough up $30 per year to WordPress and spare my readers from having marketing screed forcibly inserted into their eyeballs, but I object in principle to paying off hostage takers.

My other option would be to pull down this blog and use the webspace provided by my ISP to inflict my drivel upon those bored and incautious enough to stumble across it, but the problem with that is I’ve become addicted to the blogs of several other WordPress users and if I give up my own status as a logged in WordPresser I too will join the tormented throng subjected to the abusive attentions of their sponsors.

So if you are seeing an ad at the bottom of this post, please accept my abject apologies. The only advice I can offer is you take up the WordPress suggestion that inappropriate ads be reported to their support team.

Because all advertising is inappropriate and offensive.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

¹ I just realised that email followers don’t actually get your email address. Only people whose blog you comment on. I guess I’m not much of a spamming mastermind.

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From → rant

29 Comments
  1. I wouldn’t worry about it. I got the same message yesterday. Their crap ad goes at the bottom of the post and we will get really good at filtering them out. Meanwhile, we can ad codicils at the bottom of our posts saying, “ignore the shit advert below” or “I tried the crap below and it was shit”.

    I’m not sure if we get to see what ad they are using or not. Maybe only readers do, and they get different ads according to statistics secretly accumulated about them.

    We will all know to ignore the bullshit ads, and we will all have to have them. Hmmm. I think I’ll make parody ads and fit them in seamlessly with my posts. I’ve got just the Photoshop skills for that. Now I’m looking forward to fucking with the system.

    Like

    • It’s not the first time I’ve wished I had graphic arts skills like yours.

      I can generate the images in my head but any attempt to transpose them onto page or screen is an exercise in disappointment and frustration.

      BTW, a couple of former colleagues of mine were founding members of Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Products (BUGAUP). They pretty much wrote the book on subvertising.

      Like

      • We can probably collaborate on those. If you have a good idea, I might be able to slap something together..

        Like

        • Where were you when I was with Justice Action?

          I was always coming up with satirical cartoon ideas for demo placards or copies of ‘Framed’ then contacting a sympathetic cartoonist, only to be presented with the image a week or so after the march was done or the magazines had been printed.

          Like

        • Cartoons are a bit harder, unless one has a generic universal style of drawing everything. The really easy thing to do is slap text on photos and call it a day. Y’know, like the custom graphics I always make on my blog (ex., the kitty who hates war, the Kerry dickhead, the Perpetual War voting apparatus…). Those I can knock out in 10-30 minutes. Well, the Kerry one took longer because I had to do some photo manipulation.

          Like

  2. That new-follower thing? I was really surprised at that. I’ve been getting a bunch of new followers lately and about a third to a half are some form of this scam. At first, it did my ego good … until awareness-of-truth came around and spoiled the part.

    Like

    • I’ve only had about half a dozen definites so far, with a couple more dubious (counting both follows and likes), but all of that has been in the last ten days.

      I hope we’re not seeing the start of a flood.

      Like

    • Yap, I think only 10% of my followers actually follow my blog. There are probably 50 that are just businesses trying to get money.

      Like

  3. ” Then it won’t be long before my inbox starts filling up with those imploring missives from ultra-hot, lonely Russian women desperate to get their hands on my body (Down ladies! Please. There’s only so much of me to go around you know).”

    BUAHAHAHAA … Now that is a great sense of humor … made me laugh so hard…!!!

    Like

  4. I never saw any advertisements with the Fire Fox adblocker..

    Now that I moved to iMAC and am enjoying Safari…I don’t seem to mind the ads..as the computer works so fast I rarely have any ‘down time’ to even notice them…

    But for the most time except for getting breasts thrown in my face every five minutes…which gets old…most of the advertising is just amusing to me…and I actually enjoy watching the methods of the advertising as there is such a great hill to climb for any advertiser to get anyone’s attention these days…

    One thing encouraging I have noticed on youtube..IS that some companies are going all out on humanitarian efforts and only using the brand name for gain…that’s something new that rarely happened when I was young…taking the ‘high road’, if you will….

    ADmittingly my often cryptic style of communication draws the algorithm spam police to capture and hold my communication hostage often…but there is always a work around with computers if one keeps searching and adapting as they are only a reflection of the way human minds work at the elementary..yes or no…direction of simple logic…1 or 0 if you will…as I’m sure you know…already…

    In my personal opinion I don’t mind advertising really…as there really is so much content that one had to spend so much money on in the past…that is now completely free since so much is shared…It is really a windfall of stimulation both intellectual and sensual..as compared to what once as available in backward hometown…

    Some of the Google ADS can be hilarious as I remember talking about OJ Simpson one time and got a Kentucky Fried Chicken advertisement form the 70’s with a White guy with long sideburns and an AFrican american guy with a big AFro…I almost laughed and that is when I couldn’t even laugh at all..So I guess there is that silver lining..maybe…smiles…

    Like

  5. Seems like you have done a real lot of search on Akismet thing 😛
    I hate it and you know it…despite the fact how it is serving us bloggers.
    It is not user friendly.
    I could never understand what type of people have time to make the spam and fake advertisements really ! And what type of girls are always willing to ‘show’ themselves for this purpose 😛

    Like

    • And what type of girls are always willing to ‘show’ themselves for this purpose.

      Hopefully it’s the ones trying to earn money.

      People who advertise due to sincere, cultish brand devotion freak me out.
      (Are you out there, Apple jack-offs?)

      Like

      • I feel it shameful…I don’t know about other people.
        Nope….never !!

        Like

        • Hmm. Now’s probably not the best time to ask you to send me nude photographs of yourself then.

          Keep in mind there’s plenty of people around here who think wearing a burqa or hijab is pretty shameful, whereas I grew up in a beachside town where seeing women walking down the street wearing less cloth than you’d use to blow your nose on was considered perfectly normal.

          But I was raised in the 60s and 70s, so I feel very uncomfortable indeed when I see parents dressing their ten year old daughters up in costumes that thirty years ago you would only have seen on women working in the sex industry.

          Like

        • Lol that time would never ever come, trust me 😛
          Oh yes I know there are many people who find covering themselves shameful….
          I was talking about doing this for money ?
          I know It is the personal matter of a person whether he wears full clothes or no clothes at all….
          You have a point…..But I guess 10 years old girl is still a kid ?

          Like

        • It’s an incredible privilege to be able to make a living doing something you actually like.
          Not many people spend much of their lives doing that.

          I don’t think I could ever have worked in the sex industry (even if I wasn’t so ugly) but it seems to me if you could be unashamed about trying to sell rubbish to people who don’t want it or need it then taking your clothes off while you do so wouldn’t be much of a step further.

          Maybe they figure if they show people their bodies they’ll be less likely to remember their faces.

          Like

        • Lol Agree !

          Like

        • Fahaad Humayun permalink

          I would never feel ashamed of anything as long as I am getting money. and cabrogal its parent’s choice what to do with their kids, they produced them , didn’t they? I feel uncomfortable when people judge too much :p

          p.s hey guys. I am still alive after my 7th attempt 😦

          Like

        • OMG You really attempted for suicide ???????
          Wth ?
          Money can be everything for you…. It is nothing still for many people !

          Like

        • Fahaad Humayun permalink

          oh yes I did 😛 i love to experience new things like reading your OMG in capitals 😛

          Like

        • Lol it wasn’t a new thing in your case 😉

          Like

        • Fahaad Humayun permalink

          do you always say OMG to me 😀

          Like

        • No, But I will always say it in future . At least I can expect ‘this’ from you 😛

          Like

        • Fahaad Humayun permalink

          I am becoming predictable 😦

          Like

  6. Yeah, ads can be funny.
    Especially when they fail to cross cultural boundaries intact.

    But as with funny politicians, I’d prefer to do without and get my giggles elsewhere.

    Like

    • I once worked with a newly arrived Peruvian guy who just couldn’t get over seeing all of these smug, suburban Australians driving around in big SUVs with the ‘Pajero’ brand written prominently on the side.

      In Peru, pajero means ‘wanker’.
      Truth in advertising?

      Like

  7. p.s hey guys. I am still alive after my 7th attempt

    Well that puts you three attempts ahead of me at only about half my age.

    Congratulations.
    I always said you were pretty advanced.

    Actually I noticed you’d gone quiet and pretty much guessed you were either in hospital or prison for doing something stupid.

    Perhaps you need to face it Fahaad, the universe still has plenty of fucking over to do to you before it lets you go.

    You’re being raped by reality. Maybe you can’t enjoy it but if you stop trying to escape you probably won’t get hurt so much.

    Look after yourself, bro.

    Like

  8. Money can be everything for you…. It is nothing still for many people !

    I wish it was nothing for me.
    Unfortunately I find I have to eat sometimes or I don’t feel so good.

    Luckily I get paid just for being sick.
    So I don’t have to take my clothes off and hope people will give me money to get dressed again.

    Like

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