on Feb 8, 2007
I’m not impressed with htAkismet. I see no effect in the number of spam comments that hit this site. Maybe it hasn’t started to do its thing yet. I really wish it had some kind of “here is how I work and here are the IPs I’ve banned” control panel.
At any rate, I just got 600 spams in a three hour stretch, two-thirds of which were for “ringtones”. We all have different tolerances for this sort of business, but this is more or less my personal limit. I have added “ringtones” to my list of forbidden words, which is my orbital death-ray solution. Note that if you drop that word into a comment the system will eat it without even telling me. I’ll never see it. I suggest humans switch to using the term “ringsongs”, or perhaps, “crap nobody wants like, ever, man.” Either one. It’s a trade-off between brevity and accuracy, really.
And let me just add that I see ringtones as one of the sleaziest, most lothesome scams to emerge from the mobile phone revolution, which is really saying something. The average cell phone bill is an incomprehensible ten-page morass of gibberish and nonsense leading up to the “Ammount Due” on the last page, a number which is clearly generated using the Mersenne Twister. I’m careful to never read the fine print of my bill aloud, lest I summon some slime-covered demon from the lower planes. Despite this danger, I have to give them credit for actually selling something people want in the midst of bewildering and then subsequently screwing them.
This is not the case with ringtones. I’ve always thought that the $1 per song on iTunes was excessive. That’s about the same ammount I would pay for a song on CD, except the CD version comes with – you know – a CD, as well as album art, lyrics, and a nice jewel case to protect these treasures. I can play it anywhere without having to ask Steve Jobs first and without needing to
infect my computer with “install” iTunes. But ringtones take this ridiculous transaction and turn it into something far more absurd. Song rental.
The ringtones on my phone aren’t $1, they’re $3. You’re not just limited to listening to them on your iPod, you’re limited to listening to them on your phone. When someone calls. You aren’t getting a song, you’re getting part of a song. Oh yeah… you’re not buying it, you’re renting it for 90 days. This is like charging someone twenty dollars for a half-eaten hamburger.
The “free” ringtones, I’m sure, represent something even more horrible. There must be a reason spammers want to get people to download them. I can only guess, but I’m betting this is a way to get a user’s phone number and a way to circumvent the “do not call” list. Hey! We have an existing prior established ongoing and totally legit business relationship with this guy. He downloaded a ringtone from us! That deal is a lot worse than renting part of a song for $3.
What? I’ve gone off-topic? Twice? In each paragraph? Sorry. Where was I? Oh right:
Don’t use the word “ringtones” in comments.
UPDATE: This sucks. Akismet apparently does its thing BEFORE checking for forbidden words, which, in effect, removes that feature from WordPress. So annoyed.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.