Smelly feet, belly fat and spam

fat

This article has nothing to do with football. Nor had any of the spam that I spent time clearing out of the comments field of various Salut! Sunderland postings this morning …

Last week, at Salut! Sunderland’s parent site Salut!, I defended news aggregators such as newsnow.co.uk against charges of being web parasites, since they send genuinely interested readers to the homes of original work (newspaper websites, blogs etc). But I haven’t quite finished with the real web parasites.

Whose e-mail address do you reckon is cookforlife34@hotmail.com? What about Tifft23@gmail.com; kurns83@gmail.com; xenithpow@hotmail.com; Blyler10@gmail.com and Bohnker@gmail.com?

What is My Dish? Who runs the wonderfully misnamed http://loose-belly-fat.org (assuming that loose fat, ideal for attaching to the stomach, is not what the service provides at an appropriate price)?

Has anyone ever seen a programme called Curb Your Enthusiasm? Is Erin Andrews nude a good subject for family discussion? Would you use the Chase Internet Bank, or stop your feet smelling by wearing Kinoki Foot Pads.

For the writers among you, make what you will of the chance to become one of the international family – 268,938 strong when I checked today – of “expert authors using EzineArticles.com:a matching service bringing real-world experts and ezine publishers together”? And if you and your ex-partner cannot agree on child access, why not turn for advice to the Child Custody Attorneys site?

NB In the case of Ezinearticles.com, I am happy to report that this organisation is wholly innocent. “Please note that EzineArticles.com does not spam any sites, nor do we condone this type of behavio(u)r,” they tell me and I accept this entirely. With any luck, one of those “expert authors” may be about to become a “former expert author”, at least as far as Ezinearticles.com is concerned.

So let’s start with the e-mail addresses. They’re bogus. But the products and services appear to be genuine.

What brings them all together, with a host of others, is that whether or not those responsible for them know it, they are being promoted with the help of moronic spam spattered around the internet.

Perhaps because it attracts anything from a few hundred to almost 2,000 hits a day, Salut! Sunderland has become a target for these web parasites who, it can be safely assumed, have no interest in the performances of Sunderland AFC.

Taking account of most of our away performances this season, that may make them feel very fortunate indeed, which is more than I felt last night and this morning as I cleared 20 or 30 examples of this mindless bumf from the comments fields of assorted postings.

Seasoned spam spotters see them a mile off. The comment begins in an apparently pertinent, grown-up manner, often laced with flattery:


* Thanks for the update on…


* This was a great read


* I was just talking with my friend about this yesterday …


* This is my first time to visit your blog …

Even without the occasional lapse into mangled international English, it soon becomes evident that the whole exercise is a sham. The “person” posting the comment has not, of course, read the posting at all and may be not a person at all but a computer program. But does it become evident to all?

There may be no criminal intent, but in all other respects it is difficult to see how it differs so greatly from phishing scams. The essential tactic, after all, is much the same: imply familiarity, hoodwink the reader.

So what exactly is in it for those who, wittingly or not, have their businesses and sites championed in this way? Can’t we just treat the comments as trash and ignore them, depriving the parasite of any benefit? No, we can’t. For the process involves placing a clickable link in the comment or signature.

I am not entirely sure how this works, but if the link is undetected and remains in place, it may improve the Google ranking of the relevant site. So more people are likely to be drawn to My Dish recipes, Kinoki foot pads and the opportunity to do something about that loose belly fat (or acquire some if it’s for sale).

It is all in the great tradition of Andrew A Sailer, who/which came our attention when he/it posted the following message to a Pete Sixsmith’s affectionate tribute at this site to a murdered fellow supporter of Sunderland AFC, Stephen “Squinny” Wilson:


“TVI Express Is A Great Home Based Business -TVI-GAT TEAM.”

Try looking up that name Andrew A Sailer. With quotation marks around it, produces 1,290,000 Google hits. You find that his/its cretinous contributions pop up at numerous sites – and also – surprise. surprise – that someone of that name seems to be something of an authority on ways of developing web traffic. The activity is called search engine optimiz(s)ation and I have written to the one linked to the My Dish site to ask whether it is any more than spamming – and whether it is now considered a legitimate business practice.

It goes without saying that Salut! Sunderland regards each and every one of the sites mentioned as entirely innocent victims of this phenomenon (that sentence was dictated by our in-house lawyers). Why, some of them are so concerned about this curse of the internet that have anti-spam tools of their own installed at their sites.

Our pages are open to the people who run any or all of the services concerned to share with us their thoughts on how they came to be associated with such dubious practices.

One e-mail address among those used to post these supposed comments, or rather one among those I had time or inclination to check, did not bounce bank. So if you are real, Grantz@yahoo.com, set the ball rolling and let us know whether you had the consent of Child Custody Attorneys to place this piece of fluent gibberish as a comment on an article about well-known supporters of Sunderland:

I was looking for in regards to selecting a “http://www.child-custody-attorney.org family attorney.

Is there an effective way – beyond simply marking offensive rubbish as spam, and blacklisting the IP addresses used to send it – to combat this web pollution?

Colin Randall


* Adapted from an article first published at Salut! today.

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8 thoughts on “Smelly feet, belly fat and spam”

  1. I’ve not felt the need to stock up on loose belly fat, as I always get mine pre-packed. I did accidentally click on a link to Curb Your Enthusiasm – a programme I love (if you like Seinfeld you’ll probably like it), however like everyone – except Pete – I do resent all this spam.

  2. Quite handily, what it will actually do is still allow all your previous/regular commentors to automatically get posted straight to the blog, but from this point on stop the spammers from automatically appearing on any posts.

    You can then do a batch ‘mark-as-spam’ when you have the time, until then, they’ll just appear as pending approval. Once in a while, we go round the whole site to try and lend a hand in the moderation, so we’ll just delete them if we get there before you!

    Sam

  3. Sam
    Thanks – I have realised the stupidity of trying to engage these specimens in debate, and the novelty of editing them to add an insult is wearing thin. I now mark them “delete spam” as suggested but am really reluctant to block all but previous posters from commenting, at least until moderation, as that is against the spirit of the site and, worse, implies more work than I have time for.

  4. Colin,

    Spam, you’re right, is irritating as hell! You will notice that the WP-SpamFree plugin that you’re currently using has already blocked 18k of them, that’s a hefty total!

    Don’t give them the credit of editing them, or emailing them – just mark any that do creep through as spam and don’t let them see the light of day.

    I’ve noticed that you allow all comments through. I’d recommend changing your settings to only allow comments through automatically if you’ve previously approved a comment from a user. Anything else will be held in moderation. You can do this by logging in and clicking on Settings >> Discussion on the left of your dashboard. Then select “Comment author must have previously approved comment”

    That will certainly stop any spam comments that don’t initially get blocked, reaching your posts

    Sam

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