Tag Archives: spam

E-mushiness: Ham or Spam?

I have posted here interesting things I’ve received as spam, but nothing seems to get close to appear ham like this one. It was nevertheless caught by my spam filter, but its idea is so unusual, I just can’t let it pass. It even has a companion Web site that looks legitimate.

Quoting the full message (it’s quite long, by the way):

A man is trying a very unusual way to propose to his girlfriend. He wants people to forward an email to as many people as possible and he hopes that it will eventually get to his girlfriend. Details here: http://www.proposal-to-mary.com

Here is what he wants people to send by email:

You could help me a lot to spread my proposal to Mary – it is important that it is distributed as widely as possible so that it eventually reaches Mary. If you would like to support my proposal to Mary, please send the following text by email to a lot of people :-)

————- SNIP (email text follows) —————

WHEN YOU RECEIVE THIS, PLEASE HELP TO DISTRIBUTE IT TO OTHER PEOPLE!

For a long time I have tried to find a special way to propose marriage to my girlfriend Mary, whom I know for five years now. I wanted it very special, romantic and memorable, something our grandchildren would still remember.

And here is my idea: I will send out the proposal to Mary to 50 complete strangers, people I don’t know – hoping, that they will forward my proposal to many people, which in turn forward it again etc. And some day, I hope, it will reach Mary, after it has travelled a very long way. I know, it will take a long time and I am quite nervous…

From the poem MY Mary will know immediately that the proposal is for her.

I have created a homepage (http://www.proposal-to-mary.com) where you can find the current status of my quest. You can use the homepage to check if the proposal has already reached Mary (in that case it is not necessary anymore to forward the mail).

Once the proposal has reached Mary, I will put a note on these pages. Also I will publish there how many people have read the proposal so that everybody can see how far it has spread and that it is getting closer to Mary.

And of course you will find there what I am waiting for most: Mary’s answer! I can’t tell you, how nervous I am… Will she accept my proposal? Will she like the unusual way how she got it, through the hands of thousands of messengers all over the world?

Please cross your fingers for me! And please – help me by sending the mail to your friends to help it spread, so that it eventually reaches Mary.

And here is my proposal:

Mary, please forgive me, as you know English is not my native language. And I am not a poet. But I mean it from my heart.

My angel,

Five years ago, I will always remember the day
When fate made us meet, blissful Alaskan moments in May
Earth spun around us and a journey began
Love, warmth, happiness, enough the years to span.

The longer it lasts the more grows our bond
And with 80 still – of you I will be fond
Whatever happens, I will stay at your side
Through good and bad, together let us stride

No second with you was ever wasted
You are the sweetest I have ever tasted
We have spent so many years – why not a life?
Mary, will you marry me – and become my wife?

Mary, if you have received that and have recognized me, then give me a sign so that I can continue with the romantic part of my proposal…

————- SNIP (email text end) —————

I do have one friend named Mary, though I can’t see any connections she may have with this German from the United States … or is there, Maple? Heh.

Anyway, the site claims it makes no money from this, and I could agree—it doesn’t direct emails to a central address, which may then be a harvester, nor does it serve ads on the site.

So … what do you think? Is this proposal to Mary a real case of e-mushiness, or just a publicity stunt? Or maybe just a new way of creating chain mail that people are (probably) more likely to send? Would you help this seemingly romantic man, if you think other than skepticism? Tell me on the comments below. :)

Spammers Willing to Negotiate?

I’ve just received an irrelevant comment on one of my old blog entries, which was both suspicious and intriguing at the same time. It says [verbatim]:

hello , my name is Richard and I know you get a lot of spammy comments ,
I can help you with this problem . I know a lot of spammers and I will ask them not to post on your site. It will reduce the volume of spam by 30-50% .In return Id like to ask you to put a link to my site on the index page of your site. The link will be small and your visitors will hardly notice it , its just done for higher rankings in search engines. Contact me icq 454528835 or write me tedirectory(at)yahoo.com , i will give you my site url and you will give me yours if you are interested. thank you

I marked it as spam and deleted it anyway. Sending email to these kinds of people would probably get me more spam, IMO. If ever they get a hold of my email address with the message they told me to send them, I would have just invited them to spam me more.

I just wonder if this offer is for real. I usually abide by the unwritten rule that says, If it is too good to be true, it must be spam.[1] But, I also think they have an eye for my Google PageRank. Even if I’d like less spam, I really don’t want to trust they’d fulfill their side of the agreement.[2] That makes it too good to be true, as well. So, I decided …

… I still won’t give them anything. Would you?

Footnote:

  1. ^ Ok, so I guess it is now written. Heh.
  2. ^ Besides, I have my trusty Akismet and Bad Behavior.

On Nofollow, Spam and Plugins

When the search engine giant Google announced that it would implement the rel="nofollow" directive on its crawlers, most people had hopes it would be the end of comment spam, most especially when search competitors Yahoo! and MSN expressed support for the microformat as well.

But, as the years passed even with WordPress immediately supporting the rel="nofollow" attribute since its inception, comment spam attacks on AjaLapus.com increased so suddenly. The most probable cause of the increase is when my homepage’s PageRank increased to 6 last 29th of January rendering it more visible on SERPs. From 50 spams a day to up to 200, the weight of these spammers causes my server precious bandwidth and processing, and me of my time when checking for false positives. These spammers could just be turning a blind eye on rel="nofollow" as spamming costs almost—if not absolutely—nothing to spread.

From the words of Ben Hammersley:

If the playing field is levelled by rel="nofollow", then everyone involved will be forced to try all the harder to get their links out there. The blogosphere will be hit all the harder because of the need to maximise the gains.

Besides, them spammers are not only aiming to be displayed on SERPs, they are trying to be clicked on by human visitors as well. And, even when 99% of the blogs out there use rel="nofollow", the remaining 689,000[1] blogs that doesn’t could be easily found by mere crawling of these spambots on any link they could find. Why bother to scan for the use of rel="nofollow" when you could just post away spam as easily? These spammers affiliate with porn, pill and casino advertisers that earn thousands of dollars of revenue from clicks and visits from real people, consequently receiving commission from them—providing the motivation for more spamming.

But, has this initiative from Google done its job? Many people do not think so. Aside from Ben, other people thought of it as utter failure.

As Dylan Tweney may put it:

Worse, nofollow has another, more pernicious effect, which is that it reduces the value of legitimate comments.

It would also reduce the motivation to comment on blogs thinking that there’s no way we could benefit from reacting on someone else’s blog entry since our links would be regarded as nonexistent. So much for Web 2.0 and Web interaction. I know I have experienced this a lot of times before, though it has somehow dissipated with these realizations.

Jeremy Zawodny has a better angle about this matter:

I’ve seen that first hand. The “psychology of linking” did change in a fairly obvious way after nofollow started.

….

Look. Linking is part of what makes the web work. If you’re actually concerned about every link you make being counted in some global database of site endorsements, you’re probably over-thinking just a bit.

Straight to the point. So what do I do now since WordPress has no way of deactivating the addition of rel="nofollow" on comment URIs except for hacking into the source code? I’ve looked through Andy Beard‘s Ultimate List of DoFollow Plugins and found two different plugins that suits my taste:

I currently use Kimmo’s DoFollow as it was the first one that got me interested. But, I think I need input from you guys: Which of the two do you think would be better to motivate commenters on my blog? The one in which they know their links would eventually be followable [DoFollow], or the other in which they’d have to accomplish a somehow obtrusive number of comments[2] on the whole site before their links would be followable [Link Love]?

If you’re thinking that I may be then vulnerable to spam comments gaining ranking from my site: I wouldn’t worry, since Akismet has done a good[3] job of screening spam for me. I think Dougal Campbell made me realize this.

And, I am planning to add another plugin that automatically closes comments on older entries that most spammers tend to target. I know there exists such plugins, I just can’t find them right know. Do you know any? How long should I make entries commentable? I have been receiving legitimate comments on older entries occasionally—a reason why I still haven’t decided about this kind of plugin yet. Maybe you could help me.

Oh, by the way, there also exists 11 reasons against nofollow from a German site dedicated against the use of rel="nofollow". And, more reasons from Loren Baker, which could be what you really need to understand that nofollow is not the answer.

Notes:

  1. ^ as Technorati currently tracks 68.9 million blogs
  2. ^ 10 comments as default—a somehow large number for a non-frequently updated Web log like this
  3. ^ not great, though—as there has been about 0.1% of false positives that occured

Ituloy Angsulong Spam

I’m sorry, I just have to rant about this.

Don’t get me wrong—I have nothing against Marc Macalua‘s Philippine SEO Contest dubbed Ituloy Angsulong, even though I really do not know the purpose of having a certain key-phrase pointing to your Web site where that phrase isn’t even about what you passionately blog. But the prize money is so good, I have even thought of joining the first contest (Isulong SEOPH), though I was ineligible for they do not accept the participation of those using old domain names.

From my understanding, the goal of the contest is to produce the top ranking page on the SERPs of Google, Yahoo! and MSN search engines with the term Ituloy Angsulong. Sounds easy, right? I thought about ways to win it for no reason at all [since I am not participating]. Then it came to me that with WordPress, one of the most used blogging platforms to date, automatically including rel="nofollow" on comment links, and the fact that I don’t participate in public forums makes it really hard [at least] for me to win it. Another thing is my hatred for spam that I most probably won’t comment with the key-phrase unless it is on topic.

Now, why would someone comment on one of my non-SEO related entries with the term Ituloy Angsulong linking to their contest entry URI? I guess it’s someone who’s so desperate to win. It seems to me that no one else hates spam more than I do. I’m thankful Akismet really knows spam—even if it is made by real people. Aren’t there rules about the contest not to spam anyone? Just a thought. I hope Marc Macalua could answer me with this. Please note that I check my Akismet spam list at least five times a day. Oh, I’m so glad it caught yours! Yes, I’m talking to you, Marhgil Macuha.

If you still can’t figure how Akismet knew what to block then you’re really a dumb ass. It’s spam—not the one I love to eat.