How I Spent The Last Half Hour, An Autobiography

  By Shamus   Dec 6, 2009   38 comments

Starting yesterday I started getting spam comments on this site that would just be these lists (sometimes long, sometimes short) of random English words. A sample:

Enemy Natural,post hall gate significance experiment disappear later shout light what prepare slowly quite she

I guess it’s an effort to get past heuristic filters. (Spammers don’t care about the comment, they only want the link that goes on their name.)

I see all the comments on this site in a single admin feed that shows them in the order in which they were posted, regardless of what post they come from. (My old posts still see a good bit of hit & run traffic.)

I did not think of this when I made the earlier post asking people for silly words.

I just now sorted through a pile of endless unrelated words, reading them through and thinking, “Man, what’s wrong with these people? These words aren’t very funny at all.” I was looking at the lists of words, searching for meaning or patterns that would explain why people had chosen these mundane and un-funny words. Are these people thinking of skits I’ve never seen? Are they non-native English speakers with different ideas about what sounds funny?

And then I realized I was reading spam.

So, maybe that wasn’t the best use of the last twenty minutes. The only thing that would be more pointless than reading all my spam in detail would be to write a 250 word post about my experience reading spam.

201838 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.


  1. MelTorefas says:

    Is THAT why they do those posts? I wondered. I get stuff like that in gmail a lot.

  2. omicron says:

    spam is the Natural Enemy of bloggers. if it would all Disappear past the Gate of the Hall of tartarus, the Significance of it might become lost in this Post-spam Experiment. Later, some might Shout, What Light breaks through the morass of sensible speech? this discourse, She is Slowly sinking into depths of tedium Quite unlike all seen before! i am Prepared for random words! but alas, they would never come to be.

  3. Shrikezero says:

    Ern d’skern d’ern

    Bork Bork Bork!!

  4. So THAT’S why my blog has been getting those “word salad” comments!

    I couldn’t figure out how they were benefiting from submitting nonsensical comments. I didn’t realize that they were just trying to post their URL.

    Leslee

  5. Blake says:

    Well done good sir

  6. Sean Riley says:

    This is the weather the cuckoo likes, armored division submissive to vernacular the world into a gambling birdhouse velocity.

  7. Donald K. says:

    And then I read the post. So I guess you shifted the joke onto me.

  8. Yar Kramer says:

    True story: I used to get my spam-folder filled with messages with subjects that were the misspelled names of various pieces of software with a price tag, followed by a line of gibberish, so they’d be something like “wind0wsz XP pro $90 m1crosoft Wrod Office pro $120 Adobe Photoshop Office $20 aw;fhioa” or something like that.

    About the first time I saw this, I immediately thought, “Spam filter: priceless.”

  9. mark says:

    spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam
    Lovely Spam, Wonderful Spam!!!

  10. mark says:

    that’s the food, not data
    -and I’m kidding

  11. I get emails like this, except they often form complete, yet nonsensical or unrelated sentences, an emai titled “o way resem” starts of with this entry (keep in mind that it has an attached picture with instructions to go to some alleged shopping website):

    Ity shows a monkey with a long tail (Gordon, 1898, Pl. 11, fig. f). It
    recalls the drawings of monkeys given by Strebel (1899, Pls. 1-4). In
    the Nuttall Codex are numerous heads and a few other figures of a
    monkey, which from the erect hair of the crown, curling tail, and
    distinctly indicated facial area must be the common bonneted or capuchin
    monkey of Central America.

  12. rflrob says:

    I always enjoyed Eric Burns’ explanation for the gibberish emails and posts.

  13. Lanthanide says:

    Why don’t you set up a time-limit on allowing comments on posts? Say after 1 month you prevent new comments being added to posts (since they are 99.9999% of the time going to be spam, and if they aren’t spam, no one else is going to see them). Or if you think 1 month is too strict, perhaps 60 or 90 days.

  14. Rutskarn says:

    See, here’s the question: why totally random jumbles of words? Is there some heuristic that checks all WordPress comments and nixes the ones used over and over?

    Plus, it’d just be kind of funny if someone posted An Oration on the Dignity of Man, right under a link to ch34p v14gr4.

    (Also: I got some spam today that was just random jumblings of characters. The spam filter did manage to pick that one up, though.)

  15. Rutskarn says:

    To answer Lant’s ninja, personally, I get a lot of comments on old posts as new readers go through the archives. Most people won’t see this, perhaps, but I do. WordPress shows you the most recent comments, no matter how old the post is.

  16. Zerotime says:

    I had one of these attacks a few days ago, but with “http://email@address.com/” instead of an actual URL, so I’m not really sure what the point of it was.

  17. Jericho says:

    Cast Banana Cheese, Although Friday and Bachelor steel Ribbons also fries.

    ..Actually, that’s kinda fun. Maybe that’s why?

  18. James says:

    Really? All my spam comments are just sentences with bad grammar that are complementary despite the fact that they bear no reference to the post, i.e. “Good research. I appreciate keep it up”, even if it just a YouTube video post. (That and all the IPs are from former Soviet Bloc states)

  19. Hal says:

    The only thing that would be more pointless than reading all my spam in detail would be to write a 250 word post about my experience reading spam.

    Trumped only by commenting on said post.

  20. Eadwacer says:

    Oh, man. You threw my “Enemy Natural” comment out? There was some great gamer insight there. Can I help if it I am a little lysdexic?

  21. Sam says:

    Now, of course, I’m going to comment on how I just spent two minutes of my life reading your post about how you just spent the last twenty minutes of your life reading what in essence was just apam. Then, I’m going to go write a blog entry about how I commented about how I spent the last two minutes of my life reading a 250 word post about how you just spent time writing about how you spent the last twenty minutes reading what turned out to be spam.

    I’m a little dizzy after writing that.

  22. Pickly says:

    Enthalpy Chicken, pickles give desks yip dog carousels red. Green pizza subways go traitor.

    (Now I just wait for views…waiting…waiting…)

    the only spam I’ve gotten on my blog was on of those “Guild Wars Gold” posts, though I have not checked my email spam lately to see if there has been stuff there as well.

  23. Dix says:

    Well, your 250 word post was at least funny. As opposed to the spam. ;)

  24. Cuthalion says:

    Lolirl at the Eric Burns explanation.

    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  25. ima420r says:

    The Eric Burns explaination was a great read. Too bad popcorns going to Florida and scramble soda in the Summer red flew!

  26. Joe Cool says:

    The best spam trick I ever saw was one time, a while back, I had to search through my company’s catch-all folder, looking for legitimate e-mails. We’d get a couple hundred spams a day, and maybe one legitimate e-mail a month, so most of it was deleted.

    At one point, I noticed that the spam messages had tiny little text at the bottom, which was just meant to get it through any filter, probably. Curious as to what the text was, I copied it to notepad, so it was legibly sized. Turns out it was jokes. Some of them kinda funny.

    I started saving the jokes I saved from the spam folder, and I think I still have the file on my work computer. The worst part, is the tiny text would cut off abruptly, sometimes mid joke, and the rest of the joke would be in some later spam message. It got to the point where I was searching through the spam filter trying to find the punchline to cut-off jokes.

    Best. Spam method. Ever.

  27. MichaelG says:

    20 years from now, spam will be hailed as the first purely digital literature, and people will get degrees studying it. The classic VI*GRA ad will be in the Smithsonian.

    Just you watch!

  28. Primogenitor says:

    Dos this mean it passed a spam-turing test?

  29. Al says:

    Zerotime: what that is is a bot that’s broken, or perhaps (as they are running the spam operation as a business) that’s the default setting that that bot reverts to once a customers x number of spam messages have been sent.

  30. Yar Kramer says:

    My favorite gibberish, I have to say, is “Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?” It’s a meme. I’m ashamed to say I have it memorized.

    Well … mostly ashamed.

  31. gyfrmabrd says:

    “MichaelG” wrote:20 years from now, spam will be hailed as the first purely digital literature, and people will get degrees studying it. The classic VI*GRA ad will be in the Smithsonian.
    Just you watch!”

    That already happened.
    I did a course on digital literature, and it featured some lectures on spam”art”.

  32. MichaelG says:

    gyfrmabrd: What’s the line? “no matter how cynical I get, it’s impossible to keep up”?

  33. 1d30 says:

    I am so sick and tired of this Enemy Natural meme!

  34. SoldierHawk says:

    How odd.

    Still Shamus, the #1 rule of warfare is to Know Thine Enemy. Trying to understand these strange spam messages and understand what makes them tick is not a waste of time.

    And I’m not just saying that because I do the same thing on my blog. Nope. Absolutely not. ….

  35. Robert says:

    The only thing that would be more pointless than reading all my spam in detail would be to write a 250 word post about my experience reading spam.

    No, because I’m making a pedantic point about how this is wrong, and that has to be even more pointless. I win!

  36. Bryan says:

    See, these idiots are why a default application of ‘rel=”nofollow”‘ should be given to the links here.

    AFAIK, most search engines, when they see that, don’t count the link in whatever algorithms they use. Or at least, I think that’s still true. So any links provided by us in the comments, or any links provided by us in the “website” box (or the equivalent spam HTTP POST), wouldn’t count at *all* toward the spammer’s pagerank at google, or whatever the engine of choice is at other search engines.

    Unless I’m wrong, and rel=”nofollow” is ignored. But I’m pretty sure it isn’t.

    Of course, this doesn’t immediately remove the spam, so you’d still have to filter it. :-( If you could manage to get every popular blog to do it (…say, by adding it to all blog software and turning it on by default), though, you’d reduce this type of spam by quite a bit fairly soon.

    (Well, once they realized they weren’t getting anything out of it anyway.)

  37. Tycho says:

    Dude, thats no spam! That’s dadaist poetry! You do know of Dadaism I would like to believe, yes?

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