Their Ingeniousnessness Is Matched Only By Their Assholinessness

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 5:49 pm

Okay, so more than a few of you in my faithful and tiny readership will already be aware of the phenomenon of “splogs“; blogs made up entirely of links to spam-related sites (gray-market online pharmacies, Web-based games of chance, “pump and dump” stock swindles, etc.). Splogs typically seed themselves with huge numbers of buzzwords relevant to the interests of their potential victims (“Herbal Viagra”, “Online Casino”, whatever) to increase their rank in various search engines. They often use domain names or page titles that further reinforce the seemingly legitimate nature of their content, like blahblah.com/medical_research_and_studies/ .

The clever ones even use RSS to vamp content automatically from other Web sites, so that a splog entry regarding, say, Cialis, might contain a bunch of text drawn from some medical blog’s RSS feed about some study or another regarding the drug. The text is meaningless in relation to either the title of the splog post or the content of the hyperlink, but it serves to fill the space below the search-engine-attention-getting headline with words that seem relevant, which helps the splog to avoid being filtered out by the various search engines’ systems for identifying and removing bogus data.

But lately this most lowly form of online entity has found an ingenious new way of reproducing. Recently I’ve been prompted via email by Spam Karma (the single most awesome piece of anti-comment-spam software ever devised, may its creator be thrice blessed) to moderate a few comments left on my recent post, “Give Me Health Care Or Give Me (Premature) Death“. There were a number of comments left by a few “individuals”, that seemed simultaneously relevant and yet slightly off-kilter. Comments like,

“The government should organize easy access to Medline and Health topics, medical dictionaries, directories and publications.”

Googling the “author” produced a list of numerous other blogs containing the same or similar comments, each including a link (that I will not reproduce here) to one of a passel of cleverly named, medically-themed splogs. Spam Karma was sufficiently foozled by all of this subterfuge that it asked me for my opinion on the comment, something it almost never has to do.

Apparently this is a newish form of scripted comment spam attack, and a very clever one at that. The software robot must trawl the blogopolis for posts with key words (in this case, “health care”, among others), then inject these seemingly relevant comments. Between the content of the comment and the apparent relevance of the link, I imagine that these comments must get by many anti-comment-spam filters with ease. As demonstrated above. Some of these poor blogs are absolutely saturated with bogus comments, each one a valuable tool used to boost the spammer’s rank in search engine results and draw more attention–and traffic–to themselves.

I l-o-a-t-h-e spam. I hate it for many reasons, not the least of which is the unflattering things the very existence of such transparent ploys for people’s attention and money have to say about the native wit of the average Netizen. That being said, comment spam is, in my opinion, actually one of the more effective forms of spam out there, since it uses the structural nature of blogs and search engines to the benefit of the spammer in a very clever and ever-evolving way. this does not mean that I would not gladly use caustic lye to chemically sear off the genitals of the person(s) attempting to infest my blog with all this crap; just that I understand the ingenuity needed to come up with these tactics in the first place. And this most recent tactic really takes the cake.

Anonymous comment spammer, scum of the earth and scourge of the infobahn, I doff my hat to your ingenuity and your skill. Better watch out, though; I have a nanoprojectile weapon loaded with tiny poison-tipped bullets screwed into the top of my skull. Really. The elf that lives in my flatbed scanner told me so.

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