Posted tagged ‘spam’

My friend Gavin

February 12, 2018

“Hi Ferdinand”. This was the friendly salutation in the first email I opened this morning. But then came one of those phrases I particularly hate in emails, and in letters for that matter: “I hope this email finds you well.” At that point I could safely say that the email didn’t “find” me well, mainly because it had actually found its way to me.

“Regarding your marketing needs in your company, can we arrange to have a chat on the phone later this week.” No question mark at the end of that sentence, by the way. If I were to reply to this, the text of my reply might be “Fat chance”, or words to that effect.

Two other irritants. The email is signed “Gavin”, with no surname, and a company name, but no indication of what role Gavin plays in the organisation. The subject line is “Your query”. Now if I had the time and energy to focus on Gavin, I would indeed have a query or two, but none related to his ability to service the marketing needs of “my company”.

Of course we all know about the spam problem. In 2016 it was estimated that 59 per cent of all email traffic was spam – which, mind you, was an improvement on the 71 per cent estimated for April 2014. But actually that’s not my issue here. Gavin wasn’t selling me Viagra from dubious sources, or offering me the chance to meet some desirable Russian ladies. Gavin, in fact, works for a quite reputable company which I have come across a few times and which, I believe, offers an appropriately professional service. So what on earth has persuaded Gavin that this is a good way to get my business?

So for all the Gavins out there, don’t do this. Not because it annoys me (though it does), but because you won’t get my business this way, even if your product looks interesting. Your email is destined for the bin. Don’t address me as if I were one of your oldest friends, if we have never met. Don’t address me at all if your product or service is obviously handled by someone else in my organisation. Don’t suggest I run a “company”, at least make the effort to find out what kind of institution this is. Don’t suggest a “chat”, or even a cup of coffee. Don’t, in fact, be such a complete pillock.


Spamming the blog fastidiously

August 20, 2013

As I have mentioned before, this blog receives about a dozen or two spam comments every day, most of them filtered out by the spam service of WordPress. Occasionally I check the quarantine folder to make sure no comments have been caught there that were actually legitimate.

One thing that strikes me in reading the spam comments is that many of them use very curious language. I am not commenting on the quality of their English: some of the spammers come from various overseas countries. But there is a pattern of expression that I find interesting. So for example, most spammers call this a ‘weblog’ rather than a ‘blog’ – which is notionally correct but strange. Less correct is the very frequent use by spammers of the word ‘fastidious’. Just today one urged me to ‘keep up the fastidious work.’ That does have a meaning, but probably not what he thought. And a total of 28 spammers have used ‘fastidious’ in their bogus comments over the past week.

Is there some spammers’ glossary that they use, designed to persuade filter systems that the comment is genuine? But why would it contain ‘fastidious’?

Just wondering.

Insulting spam

April 3, 2013

WordPress, the host site for this blog, tells me that its software has removed a total of 150,858 spam comments from the posts here. That means that spam comments account for over 90 per cent of all comments submitted. Mostly these are attempts to get the reader (if it got as far as the reader) to click on various commercial (and sometimes unsavoury) links, obscured by text that typically purports to praise the quality of the blog, often in incomprehensible ways (not helped, I suspect, by computer translation); as in this case:

‘Nice answers in return of this issue with firm arguments and describing all about that.’

Sure. But sometimes you get something different, and today an enterprising spammer decided that insulting me might pay dividends. This was his attempted comment:

‘The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t disappoint me just as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually believed you would have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you weren’t too busy looking for attention.’

Ah, who knows, maybe he’s right. He wants you to click on the site of an online therapist, by the way.

My sad fate?

December 6, 2010

Sometimes you can learn things about yourself in emails. Here’s one I received today:

‘Pardon me for not having the pleasure of knowing your mindset before making you this offer and it is utterly confidential and genuine by virtue of its nature.

I write to solicit your assistance in a funds transfer  deal involving US$ 1M.This fund has been stashed out of the money desposited here by formerly respected international figure Ferdinand von Prondzynski, a leading academic now sadly in mental decline. He lodged the sum, which is the value  of his family property, in the Industrial and Commercial Bank which I am the manager. He has no heirs.

I  have already submitted an approved end of the year report for the year 2006 to my head office here in … and they will never know of this sum.

I have since then, placed this amount on a Non-Investment Account without a beneficiary. Upon your response, I will configure your name on our database as holder of the Non-Investment Account.

I will then guide you on how to apply to my head office for the Account Closure/ bank-to-bank remittance of the funds to your designated bank account.

If you concur with this proposal, I intend for you to retain 30% of the funds while 70% shall be for me. Kindly forward your response …’

Ah well, the mental decline bit may of course be true. I wish I did have the funds. And to be honest, I am almost flattered that I have made it to this level of fame. At any rate, this bit of spam gave me a good laugh on a freezing Monday morning.

Challenged spammer

February 13, 2010

As I have noted here before, a fair number of spammers attempt to get their posts published on this blog. WordPress uses spam detection software that sends most of these posts straight into the spam folder and you, the readers, never get to see them. Occasionally one slips through and I have to remove it manually. Usually they get through because while they advertise some commercial and usually highly dubious website, they also add some general narrative which is meant to look like a genuine comment. Usually this is along the lines of ‘Great post, very interesting analysis. I’ll bookmark this site and return often’.

Today one of these, allegedly called Samantha (who sells a ‘reverse phone lookup service’, whatever that means) managed to get his/her comment published before I removed it. It was in response to my post on Dublin speed limits, and what she wrote went like this:

‘It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!’

It’s complicated for all of us, Samantha.

Supportive spammer

January 19, 2010

Someone trying to sell property in an overseas location attempted to spam this blog today. I won’t give you the spammer’s website details – the location of the property is not somewhere you’d want to invest, at least not wisely – but I thought you muight like to read his or her upbeat assessment of this blog anyway. The comment was posted allegedly in response to the last post on the value of dissent. Here it is:

Your blog is very good to see it got some amazing stuff in this blog. No dissent needed. I have a draw on your pictures I feel very Ace ………….. Please don’t dissent, everyone say ‘Oh yes, good good blog’. Ace, really ace…….

Now who could disagree!

What do you make of this?

January 12, 2010

As I do from time to time, I’ve just been looking at the spam folder for this blog, since occasionally genuine posts get diverted there erroneously. And then I sometimes stay to marvel at some of the spam stuff that people have tried to post.

But here’s one that I cannot work out at all. The spammer says: ‘Hey, this is a great blog, I enjoy it a lot and will come back often. It engages me in much the same way as a live birth video.’

What am I to make of that?