As I’ve said before, the Web is an uncharted morass of grift, graft, bamboozling and fraud. You know it yourself from the overwhelming tide of offensive spam that penetrates whatever filter your mail file uses, but nothing proves it better than seeing the grubby crap that I see behind the scenes of Under Western Skies. The WordPress filter blocks hundreds of these without my intervention, but some are cleverly-composed enough that they sneak past the filter into the “comments” inbox for me to evaluate.
I wrote previously about entertaining and interesting spam that comes to UWS, and I’m back with more of the latest slimy activity on The Web.
There are two ways for spammers to try to generate hits from this site (and the millions of other blogs). The most direct route is to send an e-mail “comment” that resembles a bona fide comment from a reader but links to a site which may or may not actually be offering online gaming or car repairs or various other goods and services. Some of those sites also might harbor viruses or worms or other types of malware. If the comments portion of a blog is not “moderated,” these spams automatically show up in the comments, inviting clicks from readers, and that’s why I control approval of all comments to UWS. Automatic “bot” software can generate thousands of these messages with the press of a button. Some of the software bots are fairly sophisticated (by machine standards), and search for blog content that has some reasonable degree of relevance to the item being peddled, to make them appear more genuine.
A second, slightly more acrcane variety of spam is simply a “hit” to the site. Each day, my blog administration page lists where hits to the blog come from. The most common poitn of origin is Facebook (again, I’ll reassure you that this does NOT link to your personal Facebook profile, in any way that I can determine). With increasing frequency I’m seeing hits from sites that are selling things, or which contain various forms of pornography, etc. Since I’m the only one who sees these, one has to conclude that some spam ‘bot is generating these hits on every blog they can find in the expectation that some number of blog owners will click on the link to find out who’s reading. When one does, that then counts as a “hit” to the point of origin, boosting whatever income they get from advertising on the site. I’ve tried a couple that fooled me into thinking they were genuine links from re-posters. Usually, the origination site itself doesn’t come up at all, merely whatever ad is programmed to pop up when someone visits that site, so the site generates a penny or a nickel or whatever deal they have with advertisers.
It makes me weary to think of how many hours of human energy and invention have gone into such a worthless enterprise.
BUT, the good news is that some of these spams are interesting for one reason or another, or even funny. Here’s a sampling from the past few months.
As I reported last time, I got quite a string of messages in German — usually with rude language in them — that were trying to generate hits for online games, usually roulette (although, ultimately they were certainly phishing for logins, ID names, etc.):
“Tja, das Leben kann so scheisse sein, mann muss sich nur muhe geben.” Which translates, according to Google as “Well, life can be so s***, man has to give only Muhe.” (If only I knew what “Muhe” is!)
UPDATE: Multi-language speaker Carmen DeBello does what only someone with true fluency can: advises us that “muhe” in that spam is a misspelling. With the typo corrected, the spam reads, “Life can be s****y, so you have to give it a real effort.” (apparently it was lacking an umlaut over the “u.”) Thanks, Carmen.
A “Shopping Cart” on something called Megastore tried to attract us with this line: “MacGyver plugs a sulfuric acid leak with chocolate”
“Two New Blog Links” offerred a philosophy of life: “People are stupid” (Oh, yes, that’s appealing.)
“Work part time from home” used a pseudo-genuine ploy that has many variations: “I am really satisfied with this posting that you have given us. This is really a stupendous work done by you. Thank you and looking for more posts by you.” Well, they’re very welcome. How nice.
Here’s subtlety for you: “What’s Up everyone. I’m not new to the forum and figured I would stop by to say hi and share my new site that’s all about proven pXXXX enlargement.” (Xs provided by your editor)
“Gorgeous Kim” had a great come-on line that’s sure to appeal to us sophisticates who disdain punctuation: “Hi there hows it going”
“Work from home” (a faithful repeat spammer) tried appealing for help: “just found your site and wanted to ask for some advice on marketing”
And here’s a really ingenious DIRECT approach: “hopefully this is just what im looking for, looks like i have a lot to read Im trying to find a way to build an e-mail list.” (I’ll just bet they are.)
“lastminute-deals” sounds almost human except that they’re illiterate: This is a good approach to what, for some, may be a controversial topic. Very well though out post. – Man – a figment of God’s imagination. – Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 (ALMOST genuine, except for the stupid typo, and for the fact that it’s attached to something called “last-minute deals.” More phishing.)
I’ve had a few from “Weight Loss Calculator:” “trying to follow you on twitter but cant find your name” (oh certainly, I’ll send that along with my home address and my Social Security number, if that will be of any assistance to them).
Also: “you should use a weight loss calculator” (oh, thanks for that)
Sentimental: “gonna send this to my mom”
Cryptic: “i am addicted to farmville”
Then one that, incredibly, actually included text that related to my post, “New Kid in an Old Town” from “Online shopping for area rugs:” “The post seems to be a nice one. I really liked the description given about Los Angeles” (How did they do that?)
Even more crytic from “Antivirus:” “Herp derp” (whaaaat?)
From “financialhelpforsinglemoms:” “of just the forms “juegos para cellular” human affection, even to intense most “calendario 2011 easy scholarships” all that Love “horosopo diario” (quotes surround what were originally links, probably to phishing sites. I have no idea what that’s about)
A final source of inadvertent humor are the hits that come into the site from people conducting searches on the Web that identified Under Western Skies as a place to find their information. One can only imagine their disappointment once they got here!
“Bricklayers needed in southwest Ohio” (that one found the entry “Lawrence of Batavia” which, incredibly referenced both bricklaying and southwestern Ohio)
“spelling chibabchichi” and “chibabchichi”
There have been multiple hits for people looking for this Serbian treat. And, for once, someone could find genuine and accurate information, including the Serbian spelling of the word, courtesy of guest blogger, John DeBello. CLICK HERE to read part 1 of his 2-part piece about the 1964 Sarajevo Olympics. People searching for the term kept coming to Under Western Skies. Why? How? Were they friends of John’s looking for his post about the Olympics who could only remember the word “chibabchichi,” or was there perhaps a single, maniacal obsessive looking up every reference to chibabchichi on the Web again and again and again? I tried it: I Googled “chibabchichi.” First page of results returned a mish-mash of odd stuff, just as you would expect. I clicked over to page 2 of the search results. THERE, at the bottom of page 2, the 20th item in the Google search: Under Western Skies! Like it or not, this site, my friends, is the 20th most authoritative source of information about chibabchi in the known, searchable universe, according to Google. Thanks, John.
“1920s women’s clothes”
“Mr. Rochester.” Some lucky soul already benefitting from the extremely accurate info I provided in “Back to school” about Jane Eyre … or was it Wuthering Heights?
“de-na-zin dinosauer maps.” Now, why could they spell a name in the Navaho language and not a name derived from Greek that has been in use for over a hundred and fifty years? Or are Dinosauers distinct from Dinosaurs? Perhaps they are dinosaurs who are bitter about their extinction? Anyway, I DID write about the Bisti De-na-zin wilderness in New Mexico, but not about any dinosauers there.
“City of Torrance coruption” (I have no idea what it was that generated this match, but does anyone else share my sense of glee that their spelling of “corruption” is, itself … wait for it … CORRUPT?)
If you enjoy spam, two other entries recount great UWS spam hits, click HERE and HERE. If you hate spam, well, I don’t know how to advise you. Join the crowd. Tomorrow, a special Saturday bonus edition will have a single special spam, and then I think I’ll let this subject rest for a year or so.
© 2012 Brad Nixon