August 04, 2004

spam, the next generation

First there was junk mail, flyers stuffed into your mailbox. Tedious. Then came fax spam. I never had a fax machine but it certainly sounds annoying enough. Then email spam, which never made a whole lot of sense to me. Who do these people think will be convinced by their ever-odder promotionals? Who pays for this? Why? Do the companies they advertise really get enough revenue from it to make it worth the bad blood?

Then came comment spam, wherein a blog's posts are inundated with comments, sometimes blatantly commercial, other times purporting to be on topic: "Nice blog!" but nevertheless replete with linkage to shady chemical concoctions and not-so-soft-core unclothed athletics. The idea behind comment spam, if you're not familiar with the beast, is not to convinced a blog's readers to click those links. No, it's to raise the advertised entity's URL higher in the search engines. More linkage from more sites means a higher ranking. They're manufacturing the links themselves, but any reasonably alert blogger can catch them in the act or block their entry with Blacklist or the like.

Today I discovered a new form of spam. So simple, so obvious. I saw a bland, generic comment on an old entry. ("I like your blog." That was all. No specifics.). Got suspicious. The URL given was to a blog hosted by blogspot. Hmm. Maybe this is for real. Checked the link. (Via my email link, not the web-based one. No tracks that way.) It looked almost real, but something about it... a smutty username, contentless posting... I read the comments on the one and only post.


A spammer had set him/herself up as a blogger. Faux blogging, the new spam. They can create as many links as they want to as many off-color and off-shore sites as they want. Nobody will delete the links since nobody's home. Brilliant, really.

Only problem? A site matters to the search engines only insofar as it too garners hits. So these spammer-bloggers will still have to seed their URLS throughout the blogoverse. It'll just make it that much harder for us to catch them at it. What they're really doing is now camouflaged by something that looks an awful lot like a legit blog.

What's next? Spam people?

Posted by Tamar at August 4, 2004 10:19 PM