Eating Spam

One of the most vexing aspects of writing a blog is the hassle of dealing with people trying to use the comment feature for spamming.* There are some good tools and techniques out there to make it simpler; for instance, WordPress-hosted blogs such as this one come pre-configured to use the Akismet service, which traps suspected spam for manual review. I’ve been seeing more and more spam hitting Akismet lately; I try to regard that as a good thing. Clearly, I’m getting more exposure, which is what I want, but it doesn’t make dumping the spam any less annoying.

* Some language purists would say that I really shouldn’t call it spamming, since that implies email; I should at least qualify it as “comment spamming”. To those people, I say “phooey”. The use of “spam” to refer to obnoxious, out of place advertising started out referring to Usenet posts and was then applied to email at a later date. If I choose to re-interpret it further and change the definition of “UCE” from “Unsolicited Commercial Email” to “Unsolicited Commercial Everything”, that’s my authorial privilege.

Most spam at the moment follows a standard pattern: the text of the comment is something innocuous that the spammer hopes will slip by the filtering process and get the link to their website out there. The website, of course, is either a commercial pitch, malware infection site, or both.

I get a lot of spam where the comment is something like this (taken from my current Akismet queue):
Hola! I’ve been reading your weblog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the good job!
I hadn’t realized it took that much courage to say “hi”. Am I really that intimidating? I guess I must be: the comment is on the Google Glass Porn post from almost two weeks ago. And if you’re in Houston, why is your website (I’ll spare you readers the actual link – my skill with Polish is something less than zero, but the images suggest it’s a one-page come-on for an Internet gambling site.) hosted in Poland? Couldn’t you find a spam-friendly hosting site in Texas? Anyway, hi there. Thanks for stopping by, and welcome to the virtual garbage can.

Sometimes they get a little more creative. Here’s another one from the current queue:
It’s truly very difficult in this full of activity life to listen news on TV, therefore I only use world wide web for that purpose, and obtain the most recent information.
I’m glad to know that I’m easier to digest than the television news. On the other hand, if I thought this guy was serious, I’d worry about declining standards. Is TV news really so bad that the Web is a more reliable source? Or have we reached the point where “most recent” is more important than anything else? On the gripping hand, how much can I really read into this guy’s spam, given that he obviously missed the step in the spammer’s manual about either selling something or taking over computers to sell to a botnet: his website is a freshly-installed blog that has nothing but the default “first post” supplied by the install. *sigh* Also trashed.

And then there are the good ones. The useful ones. Every so often, something winds up in the spam trap that provides some actual entertainment or utility. Consider this gem that showed up a couple of weeks ago:
Include things like, should captured involving sixty minutes after or before consumed.
On the inside a method toilet bowl, do tomato vegetables, 1/2 goblet olive oyl, garlic clove, olives, basil, parsley, 1 tsp pepper and salt; blow okay that includes lumber scoop. You have to for you to get out of beds in comparison with healthy nose associated quality fruit.
Some people enjoy a drink an excessive amount of out without ever absolutely seeing a lot of a unique side-effects.

No, don’t skip past it. Go back and read it. Let it soak in. Glory in it. Get out of bed and become one with “healthy nose associated quality fruit”.

OK, moving on. I want to talk about the content of this comment, but before I do, I’ll just note that the website this person wants us to visit appears to be a one-page site trying to sell coffee makers. The site’s registered owner has a Los Angeles address, a comment-posting computer in New York, and a significant disconnect from either sanity or the English language. Or maybe both.

The post is, I believe, an example of machine-translated text and I wish I had had it available when I wrote about machine translation last month. I believe it’s machine-translated because I would really hate to think it was human-translated or – worse yet – written in English originally.

So what are we making here? We’ve got tomatoes, olive oil (I’ll skip the Popeye jokes), garlic, olives, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper. Without the tomatoes and olives, it could be the basis of a decent pesto. Adding them back in, though, about the only idea I’ve been able to come up with is a bruschetta. Presumably the bread got lost in the course of translation.

Oh, wait. We missed an ingredient. We completely forgot the Method antibacterial toilet bowl cleaner. What, you don’t think it’s an ingredient? Consider that the product website specifically says it contains no toxic chemicals and relies on citric acid. And it’s got a spearmint scent! By using this product, we avoid the necessity of squeezing a lemon and chopping mint. Slick!

OK, blow the ingredients with a lumber scoop. If you don’t have a 2×4 handy to fan with, you can probably substitute pounding them with a wooden pestle. Or maybe just mixing them with a wooden spoon. One way or another combine them and make sure they touch wood. That’s clearly critical.

Pour yourself a drink. Apparently as long as you drink it with this… um… concoction you won’t see a lot of unique side-effects. Just a few standard ones.

Lunch, anyone?