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Inky Stories - Comic Books by David Marshall

Cupid's Got a Death Ray!

(PG; Superhero) Agent K tries to relax after rebooting the universe and stopping a General Zaq attack. Why do these vacations never work out? Collaboration with special guest artist Line Olsson!

Fun with SpambotsComments about this page

By David Marshall February 16th, 2012 Categories: Post |

Blogs attract spam. According to Google Analytics, Inky Stories has a very small audience. Yet, it gets an inordinate amount of spam; at least 3-10 per day! These are hidden from you by my WordPress moderation settings (more on that below).

At first I thought these attacks were done manually. Modern spam technology, however, is known as botnet (robo-spam, spamdexing, spambots). Hackers use it to surf the web, posting dynamically-generated comments to wikis, blogs and forums. These unwanted posts have links to the spammer’s web sites — usually with no relevant comment — to artificially increase the site’s search engine ranking. A lot of my spam says “cool page”, “nice website”, or keywords of the spammed link.

Since spam is an unavoidable part of electronic publishing, much like physical junk mail, why fight it? Starting this week, I’m publishing the best spams, then replying to them as if they were written by actual humans! Here’s how to play with spam safely and responsibly:

  1. Block comments before they appear. WordPress has this functionality as a checked option in Discussion Settings. With this option checked on, you get an email notification with the comment’s information (content, sender, email, IP address and URLs) BEFORE it goes live. You then have the option of approving, editing, deleting or labeling as spam. You can do this on the web or with the mighty WordPress iOS app.
  2. Edit the spam. Remove all web site and email links. As mentioned above, these links help unscrupulous web marketers to artificially increase the site’s search engine ranking. Deleting these links negates any benefit to the spammer.
  3. Replace the spammer’s email address with one of your own. I created “spam @” for this sole purpose. For added style, I designed & registerd a Gravatar icon for this fake address.
  4. Approve the edited spam. That’s it. Your sanitized spam comment is no a danger. If desired, you can now reply to it as you would a legitimate blog comment.

The end result, shown in this example, is a stylized presentation of spam-and-response. My replies will occasionally be snarky, but most will contain relevant information unaddressed by traditional means. I’m happy with the results so far. See the great lengths I go through to to keep you safe and entertained? Now go out there and have fun!

— Dave M!, learning to love them Spambots.

Works Cited

Talk Back! Most recent of (8)

Sexy Sexual Sex

Kyle-or-Kyla | Posted on February 16th, 2012 at 12:46 pm   

Good luck to you, sir — you may find spambots to be an implacable foe.

A foe with amusing grammar: “There’s a problem together with your site in internet explorer.” I hate it when problems “together” like that!

(I miss the vintage email spam from the early ’00s, where they inserted garbled paragraphs from books as conversational ballast to confuse spam filters. But without modern spam email subject lines, I wouldn’t have seen the awesome phrase, “Sexy Sexual Sex”)

re: Sexy Sexual Sex

David Marshall | Posted on February 16th, 2012 at 12:50 pm   

Often as this happens, it still makes me laugh when a writing services spam has poor grammar. I used to think it was manually written in Chinese sweatshops by cubicle slaves who don’t know English. A programmer I work with told me this isn’t the case. Spams have been dynamically generated and dispensed by programs since at least 2006. As long as hackers and unscrupulous internet marketing firms can make a profit without getting caught, it looks like we’re stuck with it.

Paragraph Nice

Spambot Forex | Posted on February 16th, 2012 at 10:32 pm   

I am regular visitor, how are you everybody? This paragraph posted at this website is actually nice.

Point Taken

David Marshall | Posted on February 17th, 2012 at 10:40 am   

Thanks for proving the point of this article so well.

Post Best of "Fun with Spambots"

Kyle-or-Kyla | Posted on February 17th, 2012 at 4:30 pm   

As I’ve been thinking about it —

another tactic would be to have 1 or more separate “fun with spambots” blog entries, where you post the spam and your feedbacks.

That way it won’t be a distraction from the actual content of a blog entry that got spambotted.

but if that’s a big pain in the hinder to arrange it that way, it’ll work as-is too!

re: Post Best of "Fun with Spambots"

David Marshall | Posted on February 17th, 2012 at 4:57 pm   

Excellent idea. I’ll wait ’til enough good ones pile up. Thanks again!


Jon Kiparsky | Posted on February 20th, 2012 at 1:35 am   

Hello, David! Thought you should have this link in here somewhere:

(no, this link will not increase your penis size or make you a million dollars)

re: XKCD

David Marshall | Posted on February 20th, 2012 at 3:48 pm   

Thanks, Jon. Not only for being a human, but also for the terrific link.

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