Andrew Breese

Musings of a professional geek

Tag Archives: Email

Spammers are not quick learners

Across the three blogs that I write, there is a steady stream of spam comments. Anything from 5 to 200 comments a week which are never published, as they go straight to the spam bin. That is entirely normal for blogs. What I find odd is that it seems the same set of spammers are using automated systems to write clearly junk messages, and despite the fact that none of those messages ever get approved as comments they continue to send them.

For years I’ve seen the same junk arrive in the spam queue, and none has ever been published. I don’t even regularly view the spam comments as (a) it is filled so full of junk that finding a false positive is hard, and (b) I’ve never found a comment that was a false positive in all my years of blogging. A cynic might suggest that the real comments are too low; heh.

For me the spam queue is a funny odd place I visit periodically (once or twice a year) to have a laugh about how poor their systems are, and how good the WordPress spam filter is. It is regularly automatically emptied after a month, so it has a zero maintenance effort.

Why do they bother? Why can’t they learn?

I guess it is due to the fact that sending a spam message to a blog costs almost nothing. Principally once the scripts and URLs are loaded a spam engine could sent garbage through-out the internet with no real cost except the outbound data cost. Piggy-back that cost onto some other bulk subscription and its the same argument as spam email: if you “fool” one person in 100 million, then the cost is justified.

What a shitty system, and what an equally terrible model to try and make money.

If the system is more about trying to get back-links to create some sort of page rank then they’re really barking up the wrong tree trying to leverage from my blogs. Heck, I’d guess my blogs would be amongst the most obscure corners of the Internet.

  • Why don’t they upgrade and actually make a more intelligent system which spends more energy/time targeting the soft targets, and strays clear of the harder ones?
  • Include a check for the comment key phrase on the page where it is made. If after 100 attempts and zero positive links, then stop creating the spam to that server for a while.
  • Why is the content so obviously junk when you quickly cast your eyes over it. If the goal was eyeball exposure or to try and fool somebody into clicking then almost all the messages need a grammar and spell check. This junk must be coming from an engine, so have some pride and spell check your work a little.

I could see a system which trolls the internet looking for regular content updates as valuable to them. If the same system also did a verification check for a useful back-link then you’ve found a great little site where the admin is asleep at the wheel, or thinks any traffic is good traffic. The basic logic of how to run a good exploit is not even being used, and that is a good thing, but it also kind of frustrates me.

Heck, if the spammers could click the right links then some of the pay-per-click fee systems might self-implode in a huge waste of money. The scammers get spammed and create self referential pits of useless comments and content.

Perhaps this is an opportunity for a better comment spam system. I’d not ever want to create that software as ethically I think that is worse than putting gambling ads on pension slips. How in hell do you even market software to spam people? …

In an ideal world the rest of the Internet could get on with what we’re up to, and only have to concern ourselves with the background hiss of the wasted bandwidth from all the re-posts and never-read-comments  buzzing through the routers.

Not a bad thing at all I guess.

I’m a fan of Unsubscribe Now

I’m a fan of useful and clear functions, especially in marketing campaign emails. As such here is a quick rant about how to facilitate Unsubscribe in email marketing.

In short – I love it when an email message contains single click Unsubscribe. Even better when it also contains options to change my preferences without remembering passwords, logins, or asking me to jump through hoops.

A single click unsubscribe is fast when you want to use it, makes it clear that the organisation is (likely) thinking about the user when they send the email, and it provokes a reaction in me where I am likely to stay on that mailing list because I know I can quit at any time.

Conversely I have an option in my email program (gmail) that offers me the choice when a company does not – its called the MARK AS SPAM button. Click, and you’re gone. Forever.

Let the email marketeers ponder which they’d prefer. My choice is easy.

ps. thanks to the fine folks at 10collective who do this well in their email communications. Their mesage prompted this mini-post, so they deserve a back-link as credit.

Clever gmail hack – mark spam as read

A small part of the Gmail interface bothers me – that of showing the Unread count on the spam content. Fortunately it also bothered Mathew Gallant, who came up with a filter neat trick to mark all spam as read. This has the advantage of using Gmail’s in-built tools rather than an add-on or some such. I really recommend this filter. Read more of this post

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