Sunday Salon: Frustrated with false friends
No matter how many years you’ve spent on this planet, no matter what gender you are or which country you hail from there is one thing I bet we all have in common: we all love to receive compliments. Remember how you felt when your teacher singled you out in class for something you’d done particularly well? You might get that same warm glow of satisfaction and pride now when you get a promotion in work or just a verbal ‘well done’. Or when someone comments about the dress you’re wearing or your new hairstyle. Or you get a positive reaction to a blog post you’ve spent hours crafting.
“You are so intelligent,” read one recent comment posted on a review I published last year. “I’ve been surfing on-line for more than 3 hours but haven’t seen anything as interesting as your article,” said another. “If all web masters and bloggers made content like yours the internet would be a better place,” said a third.
Now I flatter myself that I can string a few words together to create some semblance of order but I doubt that I’m anywhere as good as these comments would suggest. They’re just too effusive to be genuine.
And of course they are far from genuine. They are in fact false friends, otherwise known in the lingo of digital media, as spam.
I’ve experienced these kinds of comments ever since I started BookerTalk more than two years ago. Just one or two a day to begin with, then it started creeping up and just lately the number has exploded. Even though the WordPress spam filter tool catches most of them, some creep through and no matter how many times I report them or try to block them permanently, they keep coming back.
Some of them are so obviously spam that they easy to detect. They’re the ones that contain gibberish, usually in multiple languages and written at great length. Like the one that contained this gem of gobbledygook:
You know thus significantly relating to this matter, produced me personally believe it from so many various angles.
Thank you for sharing that wisdom with me lili-marlene-doortmund, or whoever you really are, it made my day complete in so many ways. But may not as much as this tremendous comment from Dark Souls:
Just desire to say your article is as surprising.
The clearness on your post is just cool and i can suppose you are a professional on this subject.
Well with your permission let me to clutch your feed
to keep up to date with imminent post. Thank you one million and please continue the enjoyable work.
I’m not quite sure how one ‘clutches a post’ but it sounds a bit painful.
Then there are those where you can tell just from the name, that they are not genuine I’m pretty certain that Michael Kors is rather too busy running his fashion empire to read my review of an African author’s latest work let alone leave a comment saying how wonderful it was. Yet every day, and sometimes multiple times a day, I get an email in his name. I’ve picked up two more great buddies also in the shape of Tree Removal Galston West and Buffalo Linkstation Is430d who send me comments every week even though I have yet to write about tree surgery or link stations (actually I don’t even know what a link station is).
I’ve read enough warning about opening mail from strangers to know that the last thing you should do is click on any of the links in these comments or respond. The spammers know this so they seem to have changed tactic in the last few months and instead of simply posting compliments, they are now asking for help.
So I get plenty of comments now asking me what spam filters I use and can I recommend a good plug-in to deal with them (thanks for the question Thad Pitcher but the fact your gravatar is called Giuseppe Zanotti Sneakers doesn’t suggest that you and I have much in common). Then are the ones who say they are having problems finding my contact page so would I send them my email because they have some recommendations for me – nice try Janie Russell of auto detailing chandler NZ but I live in Wales, United Kingdom so it’s a hell of a long way for me to travel to buy my next car. Unless of course you’re offering to pay my air ticket? No, somehow I think not.
And so it goes on day after day. I imagine most of the comments are written by people in one of the poor regions of the world where they get paid peanuts to splurge this garbage. It may be the only kind of job they can get and it might mean they can afford to put food on the table for the family. I feel rather mean making fun of them if they are in that predicament. Maybe that’s just an idealised notion of mine and really these things are simply written by people who have absolutely nothing better to do with their lives than to annoy others.
In which camp do you think they fall? Do you have similar problems with spammers and if so, how do you deal with them??