Comment spam

“I was very pleased to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.”

I shouldn’t let it get to me but still I do. Comment spam. WHY??

Courtesy of “Oxygen Plant”, the above little gem popped up suddenly in the comments on my recent Wytham Woods post, at the end of a brief exchange on the virtues of the late Robert Holdstock. It’s not hard to spot the slightly bogus aura of the safely neutral praise, even for a conversation not about Robert Holdstock. And sure enough a quick Google search on the exact text produces a lot of results.

I have no intention of revealing where Oxygen Plant comes from – you can do your own Googling, if you like – but suffice it to say it really is from an oxygen plant: in fact, according to its site, “a Family owned professionally managed company incorporated in 1963 for manufacturing industrial gases.”

So I say again, WHY??

Their chairman “is considered as the pioneer and founder of air separation plant manufacturing in India. All other Companies manufacturing similar products like oxygen plant are using Designs & Technology Pioneered by him.”

But despite his obvious business and scientific acuity, he thinks the best way of drumming up business is to spam as many blogs as he can? Does anyone really think, well, I was going to hold fire on ordering that oxygen plant but now, goodness gracious me, I do believe I’ll splash out?


The nicest word that comes to mind is “lazy”

I suppose a peril of moving in primarily IT literate circles is that you forget how many illiterates there are out there: not necessarily in terms of grammar and the ability to construct coherent sentences (though to be honest, there is quite a close correlation) but just in terms of etiquette.

Fr’instance, a post two days ago on Terry Wogan and various domestic issues drew the following well-targeted comment, all entirely sic including the unclosed opening inverted commas:


Two things

1) I’d like your permission to (re)print your article on ‘Torchwood’for our website

2) I was hoping we could use your ‘scribing’ talent for our website.

The Best Shows Youre Not Watching (dot) com [all one word]
‘Torchwood’one of our featured shows. We’re hoping to round up a few people who can occasionally contribute perspective (via an article/blog) on the shows – maybe a recent episode, future direction, plot shortcomings etc.

What’s in it for you?
Primarily a larger audience back channeled to your blog. We don’t pay but the site has a lot of promise and we’re pretty excited about getting it off the ground. Let me know what you think.

[I redact the URL because I’ve already given the name of their site and have no intention of making life too easy.]

Intriguing, because while I could swear I’ve mentioned Torchwood more than once, a search on the blog only uncovers one article, written nearly three years ago when the series began. Anyway. To save you looking it up, I devastatingly replied:

First, convince me you really are after my scribing talent as a result of a personal evaluation of my ability as evidenced on this blog, and that this isn’t an automatic spam generated by a bot searching on the word “Torchwood”.

Why might I suspect the latter case?

1. The only article I’ve written on Torchwood is nearly 3 years old.

2. There’s a clearly visible link in the left hand column saying “contact Ben”, and yet you drop a comment into a totally unrelated post. The nicest word that comes to mind is “lazy”.

How you go about this convincing of me I leave up to you, but the clue is in point 2 above.

It’s not just web spammers but any kind of direct marketing: the key word is clue, people. If you want people to take you seriously, show you have one. Honestly. Do you really, really think that this kind of so-obviously mass-produced, badly worded twaddle is going to convince us of anything, other than the fact that you so clearly haven’t gone through our site in a search for exactly the right ‘scribing’ talent to suit your needs? Put another way: is it really an advert for your site that it’s going to be ‘scribed’ by the kind of people who either write or respond to this kind of thing?

I thought I would test my theory that the commenter may not be 100% inspired by my personal brilliance. A quick search on key phrases of the comment shows:

  • US TV critic Alan Sepinwall got exactly the same, in a post about American Idol and Ellen Degeneres. As a follow-up comment points out, he’s apparently a high-profile critic in the US and doesn’t exactly need the back-channelled larger audience.
  • Journalist David Kirkpatrick in an article on nanotech. At least Mr Sepinwall has actually written articles on Torchwood. In Mr Kirkpatrick’s case the requested article was about The Clone Wars. A quick search shows that Mr Kirkpatrick has previously written exactly two lines in different posts about the Clone Wars: on 7 January 2009, commenting on wii games: “Hell, the Clone Wars lightsaber game is downright tiring“, and a link to the show’s trailer.
  • Finally, writer Kat Richardson got done with a comment that starts off about Medium but then segues for no apparent reason into The Clone Wars, again. A good ‘scriber’ is at least proficient with cut and paste and the ability to read their own spam.

And there are others, but I got bored.

Good grief, this is the kind of thing people were doing back when the web was young in the mid-nineties. I may even have done it myself, though I hope I didn’t. Is a whole new generation that doesn’t remember the mid-nineties now making the same mistake?

Spam almost right

Some spam is just weird. Like this, received today by both me and my colleague:

Hiya. Long time no speak.

It’s Nan’s 95th Birthday next month, any ideas on what to get her this year?

Love Sis

Current email was sent by an Evaluation License.
Note: This footer will be removed with Licensed SSL/TLS Version

Straight text, no URL to go to, no viruses attached, no request for personal data to let them into my bank account.

But. My sister would never sign herself Sis and anyway, Nan’s 95th birthday was five years ago. Her hundredth was while I was in Montreal. So, I don’t think I will pursue this any further.