Friday, March 15, 2013

Portrait of the Spambot as a Young Man


Once upon a time, before Captcha and Disqus and suchlike other spam-blocking software existed when spam-bots freely roamed the Earth, I came up with my own trick for sopping up the worst of their onslaught.

Noticing that the 'bots concentrated their shitstrafing on one's most recent post, I put together a post which, thanks to a glitch in the Blogger software, I was able to trick into sitting at the top of my blog and announce to the world that it was, in fact, a post from two or three or four week in the future.  

Using a highly flattened graphic of a bat'leth and an brief advisory to actual, human readers that this was intended to absorb the hundreds of spam drops I was getting slammed with every few days -- 

This is my Spamcatcher Mark II. It is an imperfect beast but I have grown attached to it.
-- I was able to make it thin enough to be relatively unobtrusive. This made it possible for me to post on my regular schedule (between 1-3 posts a day, every day, for going on eight years now) with each new post slotting in neatly behind my Spamcatcher, which went right on soaking up the crap until, once every few weeks, I changed its apparent date to a few weeks in the future, and could go right back to being relatively undisturbed by the little bastards for another month or so.


Some minor historical notes:
  • I had to retire the original Spamcatcher: it got so full of impacted digital fecal matter that my site actually had trouble loading.
  • I archived that first batch of spam and still have it on file should any future grad student doing a dissertation on the frontier days of digital advertising need raw material.  Also there is a certain awful, mindless beauty to it when you see all of them laid out together in all their gargantuan insectile glory.
  • The comment sections of many of my posts predating the Spamcatcher are still thick with hundreds of spamdroppings.
  • This discovery caused brought some very minor acclaim my way for a little while.
  • One Saturday, just for goofs, I decided to do some whatchacall "journalism" and to see if I could follow the spam's digital slime and money trail back to its point(s) of origins.  What followed was a fascinating sojourn through what I later described as -- 
"A sprawling, messy, Russian novel littered with dodgy, overlapping characters and storylines, each pulling the knot tighter for his or her own motives. Scuttlefish running web-spiders like “Arameda” from the back room of a ball-bearing warehouse on the banks of the Tom River in West/Central Siberia. Front companies in South Carolina. Server farms in Texas. Whelping-boxes full of DSL lines and weasels in California. Herbalife scams. Large, successful corporations in places like Bellvue, Washington that lap the cream off the top and look the other way. And hero geeks and sentinels pushing back, knives out."
-- in "Fear and Loathing on the Spam-pain Trail, Part I and Part II".
So why bring this up now?

Because eight years after getting buried under an endless avalanche of dreck I never wanted and which ate up my valuable time and energy, I have been contacted by one of the companies who used spammers to annoy people like me asking me pretty please will I go back into my 2005 archives and delete their still-wriggling contributions to Western Civilization.

The reason?

Here is a slightly redacted portion of their email to me....
...Google has penalized our site for reasons related to our backlink profile. Unfortunately, a link to our site on yours may be considered unnatural by Google and may be a part of why we were penalized. 

Because of this, we respectfully ask that you remove the link to our site that is located here and says:


driftglass.blogspot.it/2005/07 xxxxx  - forensic audit 


Since we think this link could be considered unnatural by Google, it could be affecting your site's search engine performance. Removing the link will help both of us, and we hope you will consider doing so. Because this is our final attempt to contact you, your site will be included in a disavow report we send to Google if you do not respond to this request. ..
First, dear emailer, you should know that "unnatural" is not the worst thing I have ever been called by several orders of magnitude.

Second, you should know that I am a very reasonable person. I am also a small businessman. As such I would be happy to strap on the HazMat boots and slog through the ancient comment catacombs of my blog to locate and eradicate the little pest which you plopped in there in the first place but is now causing Google to fart in your general direction.

For $20.

Per unit of spam.

Operators are standing by so act now!

6 comments:

tmk said...

...Karma's a bitch, ain't it fellas?

Karen Crosby said...

Awesome, you are awesome!

jim said...

Mmmmm, smells like fresh-cut punishment fee.

marindenver said...

LOL. My husband, when he received phone calls asking him to take a survey on this, that or the other would explain that he would be happy to but that he charged for his time. If the caller would just provide him with their Visa or MasterCard number and expiration date to cover the charges he would answer all the questions they wanted.

Jack said...

I archived that first batch of spam and still have it on file should any future grad student doing a dissertation on the frontier days of digital advertising need raw material. Also there is a certain awful, mindless beauty to it when you see all of them laid out together in all their gargantuan insectile glory.


Ever the nerd, driftglass. Ever the nerd...

;-)

Bustednuckles said...

Clever fucking bastard ain't ya?

I remember going through a shit ton of what was in that containment vessel once and at one time it was a who's who of bloggers back in the day just leaving a comment there for the hell of it.
Of course I had to chime in.

BTW, there is some kind of run on up above at the beginning of this post where the sentences sprawl clear across the page and are unreadable.
Just fyi.