Hot trends in spam

It is fascinating to see the evolving ways in which spambots try to fool us into thinking they are real people. It’s like a very narrow version of the Turing Test.

In response to a birdy post which mentioned, among other things, ring-necked duck, someone submitted this almost-relevant piece of commentary:

Like the scaups she has a white crescent at the base of her bill although it is less distinctive than that of either the Greater or Lesser Scaup. The Female Ring-necked Duck can be distinguished from the scaups by the thin white eye-ring that trails back to her ear and the peaked shape of her head as well as by differing habitat. A generalized diet may allow the Ring-necked Duck to colonize new areas and habitats that other species might not be able to use and this may be why it seems to be faring well.

It doesn’t actually make sense as a real human response to the post, but at a glance I thought it might do. Although the fact it was posted by a website offering offshore banking services would probably have been enough to tip me off.

8 Comments

  1. Laura
    1 April 2011 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I read that in order to keep spam posts on-topic, these bots take excerpts from previous comments or posts on the website, or even that other commenters have made elsewhere! But they can’t actually get rid of the spam essence of their posts, so they will not get far.

    I wonder if anyone is offshore banking with them based off this type of thing.. Sometimes I think that this kind of spam must just benefit from page views to their linked website… which I guess could be about anything, or nothing, if they don’t depend on actual content for hits. I don’t know though. Spam is more interesting than it should be to me…

    Now that the US govt is paying millions for fake facebook and twitter people to espouse their positions online, and fake spam people are leaving thoughtful and relevant posts on blogs, I imagine fake people in the future that behave in all ways like real ones,except for actual existence: paying fake taxes, maintaining fake social lives, maybe even maintaining fake residences… All for the benefit of their sponsors. I guess to exert fake peer pressure.

    :) -Laura

  2. Harry
    1 April 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I believe blog spam is designed to fool Google, rather than to fool real readers. The more incoming links a page has, the higher it is likely to appear on Google’s search results. So while the duck text is supposed to fool me, by discouraging me to delete the comment, the spam is actually aimed at Google’s search bots and ranking algorithms. It’s all computers trying to fool each other, really; we’re just caught in the middle.

  3. 1 April 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    More than 100 million pounds of SPAM® were shipped abroad to feed troops during WWII. 1991 the first SPAM® merchandise catalogue was produced. In 2007 the 7 billionth can of SPAM® was sold.

  4. Harry
    1 April 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Unbelievable. Is that comment a joke? Surely I haven’t been hit with genuine SPAM® spam, posted by an actual SPAM® spambot?

    We’re a long way down the rabbit hole, people.

  5. Claudia Rutherford
    1 April 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Oops. That might have been me.

  6. Harry
    1 April 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Ha! You got me. I actually wondered if it was an April fool by the people at SPAM to start spamming people.

  7. Laura
    1 April 2011 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    One of the first things I remember looking at on the internet were spam carving competition results. I wonder if that is still around…

  8. Harry
    1 April 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    If there’s anything we can learn from the internet, it’s this: someone, somewhere, will always be doing something silly with processed meat.

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