One of the things readers to this blog don’t get to see is the spam that gets submitted as ‘comment’ on individual posts. WordPress has a spam filter that is pretty effective, keeping irrelevant, spurious and commercial stuff out of the way. It gets sent to a spam folder, and every so often I go to have a look, just in case something legitimate got sent there (and that occasionally happens). To give you an idea of the volume, since this blog was launched 5,964 comments have been submitted, of which 4,314 were spam.
As with email spam, a lot of it is to do with the sale of drugs and medicines. One persistent spammer (who clearly believes that, one day, I’ll publish this) always has the same comment: ‘Great blog, made me think. Do you want Viagara?’ – with a URL to make the latter offer real. More recently he has become hugely subtle: the offer of viagara has been dropped, but the word ‘great’ has been hyperlinked with the same URL. But I confess I have been almost tempted to publish another spammer’s comment, simply because it made me laugh. It read: ‘Wonderful blog, great post. You should be big’ – with the word ‘big’ linked to another viagara site. That’s kind of neat.
I get a certain number of comments entirely in Russian. It is of course possible that they are all about higher education, public policy, or even Newcastle United: but the fact that the only word I can recognise is ‘mp3′ makes me suspicious.
Then there are posts I file as spam because, to be honest, while they are in English I have absolutely no idea what they are about. For example, one (who didn’t add a URL or anything that would make me suspicious) submitted a comment on the post ‘A date in history’, with the first sentence of the comment reading:
‘You might conclude from your post that sex dating in Michigan is a new phenomenon.’
Maybe you’d like to read on, but I’m afraid I think it’s just spam. No idea what the spammer wanted to achieve, though.
I read the spam folder about once a week, and don’t spend much time on it. But there is another sense you get from it, of seeing all of human life through a rather dirty lens. There they are, the merchants of dubious products, and some pretty disturbed people (including an obsessive who tried to comment for a while pretending to be someone else). Maybe a spam folder should be the basis for some analysis on what we need to do to get a better society. Or maybe it needs to be only what it is, a folder into which we sweep what we do not need to see.