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May 19, 2010 | by  | in Online Only |
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Salient Online Editor vs. The Most Determined Spammer Ever

Just like any other website you can comment on, Salient gets some spam comments. Normally these are the kind that are easily filtered out by our WordPress spam filter—comments that have 29 links to East Nike, comments that link to something at gogole.com (go there, I dare you). We have projectors, pottery supplies, wholesale rugby teams (seriously), Verne Troyer sex tape, and variations of ‘acai berry cleanse diet’, which seems to then make a comment of randomly generated words, as if the spammers were just hoping it would come out as an insightful and interesting comment.

Recently, however, there has been a new breed of spam infiltrating the Salient website. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t seem to be the kind of computer-generated spam that randomly targets with irrelevant links even the most credulous of dethroned Nigerian princes would want to click. No, this is no automated spam. This is manual spam.

As Salient‘s Online Editor, it’s my job to watch people argue on the internet, and make sure no hurtful things are said, and, least importantly, to mark the spam that gets through the filter. I first noticed the spam in question on a book review. The author of the comment, ‘r4 ds card’, sang praises of the book, which, being called The Most Beautiful Man in the World, it probably didn’t deserve. As you do with comments on the website, it had a link, this one taking you to a United Kingdom website. Although I didn’t like the look of the name or website, on the surface the comment seemed relevant. So I left it.

It wasn’t until more recently that I realised what was happening. Two comments in particular, both left on two travel blog posts, had some suspicious similarities: the similar jumble of letters as a name, the comment that was slightly relevant to the topic and highly agreeable—helped out by some pretty pictures—and a link to a German website. Which was weird.

This logically led me to assume that somebody was reading articles on the Salient website, getting the basic gist of an article, then leaving a comment with a link to their website which sells obscure cartridge types for the Nintendo DS. Assuming the spammer must be German, I then left a comment for them in German, telling them how pointless their venture was. Having had my say on the internet, I then rested, knowing that the spammer would see the error in his or her ways.

But the comments continued.

It was then that I took serious notice of the comments, and realised how hilarious they are. The spammer just seems to be making shit up, not even really caring if the comment really makes sense. One of the first comments appeared on a games review for Mass Effect 2:

“This one is the best multi player game of this year.Its very well designed over the previous game.They have added new campaigns,explosive new guns and deadly new me-lee weapons.This game has a lot of content to keep me interested for long time.”

To anyone who is unfamiliar with the game or not a grammar nazi, this comment wouldn’t really make you think twice. However, Lewis assures me that Mass Effect 2 has no multiplayer and no melee weapons.

Sometimes it’s like the spammer isn’t even trying at all, like in this comment left on an Editorial:

“The article posted over here is written in very nice way and it is sharing very nice and interesting information. I enjoyed reading this article and I am sure that other people will also like it.”

Taking a closer look at these comments, I found they gave links to Chinese, French, German, Italian, Dutch, British, and even Kiwi versions of the same website, which says it is based in Jersey in the Channel Islands. I also used some high-tech tools at my disposal to track down the IP addresses, which seem to originate from different computers in Mumbai and Kaul in India.

Now the thing that gets me about all these comments is that if you’re going to advertise your product, basic advertising theory or common sense or whatever will tell you that you need to advertise to your target audience. I know what Salient‘s target audience is: poor students who need crosswords, comics and faces to deface. The website gets some good traffic, as Google tells us, a good portion of it coming from Alaska (hi!). This demographic, in my opinion, doesn’t quite fit completely with that of a website dedicated to selling an obscure something for a small handheld gaming device.

It’s not just why the website has been targeted that confuses me, it’s the method as well. Having some poor fellow write spam is bad enough, but making them read and also write something almost relevant and sickeningly uncontroversially agreeable and incorrect about it on top of that is too much. And how do we get to their product? Through the link you can leave on your name when commenting, which nobody looks at, on a comment that will be removed by me anyway.

So, Spammer. I know you’ll probably skim read this for keywords that you can put into a sentence and say you like, so I’ll tell you here what the deal is:

You can go on spamming this website, and I will continue to find the comments, laugh heartily at them, maybe even show my friends for extra amusement, like the time you said you read Jessy Edwards’ book (she doesn’t have one, by the way), before removing the comment.

or:

You can realise that your struggle is pointless, and maybe go spam another website, like this one or this one or this one. I’m sure their readers all like playing with small things.

What do you say?

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About the Author ()

Mikey learned everything he knows about English Grammar in an MSN chat room when he was 13. Believing that people don't say "LOL" enough in everyday conversation, he has made it his mission to teach the world about grammerz one person at a time.

Comments (11)

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  1. Tom M says:

    I think what they are most likely trying to do is bump up their (client’s) rank on google.

  2. smackdown says:

    im no spammer

  3. Chuck says:

    This is the best story on this site today and tells me alt of excellent stuff I would have never found out about. This writer is a mortal among immortals and luminair of their time and I am vast in enjoyment of this article.

  4. Elle says:

    I kind of enjoy the spammer’s comments. This one on my interview with Alexandra Owen gave me some lols: “”For them who are fresher or who want to start there courier in this industry they will really like this.”

  5. Magneto says:

    We love small things!!

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    a beatle can rise above the sun but can also write a song about it – smackdown

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  10. Former Salient Something Something Michi Langdon says:

    You’re welcome.

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