Wordle of a spam commentIn March, I received a flurry of comments flagged as Spam. Most spam is gibberish, or is short and generic, like “Great post!” while pointing to a site for forex trading software, or a product page for a Blackberry.

The comments in the March flurry, though, were written in [mostly] comprehensible English and the author links looked like they pointed to Facebook. Because I hadn’t seen comments ostensibly linked to Facebook before, and because a few almost actually related to the post, I came very close to approving some.

Note: For all excerpts I’m using copy & paste, so all typos are as they were in the original comment. As you’ll see in these comments, there is always one word that has been scrambled. There must be a reason. Do you know why that would be? Anyway, I’ve accepted the implicit puzzle challenge and filled in my guess for the scrambled word in square brackets.

My Dear Maggie E. post solicited a couple of comments that were related to death, so I really wondered if they were legitimate. Both were very long, so I include only portions here:

Thoughtful post. My mother eldxpectueny [unexpectedly] passed away a couple of weeks ago and we were left with the decision as to what we would do with her remains. As I struggled to gain composure in the first few days, my thoughts continually went back to all of the good times we had spent camping as a family throughout my childhood….

and:

My uncle died suddenly nivaelg [leaving] my aunt with 4 children under the age of 8. I was the age of the oldest. This was my dad’s family and we almost always spend Christmas together for a week because we lived several states away…I definitely like the idea of a memorial place. My grandfather used to joke that he wanted a motion activated recording on his tombstone that would start in with, Hello, I’m WH whenever anyone walked by. Instead, we put pictures on the tombstones (my grandparents and my parents).

I like the last part of the second comment. It was tempting to de-spam it just because I like the idea of a motion-activated recording on a tombstone.

Then there’s this comment on Stroll through Ashland Cemetery in Oregon.

I don’t recall ever being crepeed [creeped] out by cemeteries, either. In March we went to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and while doing pre-trip research I learned that there was a cemetery right by the ocean there. I spent close to an hour there (it’s a small cemetery) just taking photos of the interesting and unique headstones. I’ve never even thought of taking photos in a cemetery as disrespectful, either.

There really is a small cemetery near the ocean on Easter Island. I’m still not sure this one was bogus.

Most comments were a bit more obvious in their suspicious nature. For one thing, they have no relationship whatsoever with the post they supposedly comment on.

(Comment on BlogFestivus Day 11: I want my daddy)

Johnny Cow,First, I like to say great post.I myself wmecole [welcome] these new FTC regulations. I as you have always taken the hype and B.S out of any sales funnels which I have created for myself and clients.

Who are you calling “Johnny Cow?” And what do you know about my “sales funnels?”

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(Comment on BlogFestivus Day 6: Good bye)

Nice contest tankhs [thanks] for the opportunity.Without a doubt, here’s what I’d do with the money I would give all of it every penny to some Christians I know in Zimbabwe who are suffering due to the massive inflation crisis going on there.

Wait, there was a contest? Er, thanks for playing? And are you saying only Christians are suffering from inflation in Zimbabwe? Or are you saying only Christians deserve your “winnings?” (You didn’t win, by the way.)

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(Comments on BlogFestivus Day 1: Best laid plans)

I celebrate Christmas and I would like to wish you a hardy Merry Christmas! Also I’m sorry to hear that you were going hrgouth [through] some rough times. Now I understand why you left a couple things unfinished. I’m also very glad to hear that things are getting sorted out.

Yeah, those were some tough times. I guess. Glad you’re so understanding.

Magnificent items from you, man. I have keep in mind your stuff prior to and you’re simply eelmxrety [extremely] fantastic. I actually like what you have obtained right here, really like what you are stating and the best way through which you say it. You’re making it entertaining and you still care for to stay it wise. I can’t wait to learn far more from you. That is really a tremendous website.

Magnificent? Extremely fantastic? Aw shucks, thanks!

Unfortunately the squirrel post has been taken off by the NFL. So I meissd [missed] seeing it boo!

I  missed seeing it too. Boo! Uh, what squirrel post?

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(Comments on BlogFestivus Day 8: Indulge me)

If I was to win the $200.00 I would either use it to buy much nedeed [needed] heating fuel, (we live in the high mountains and it is very cold here), or to buy the special food my son and I have to eat.Our family became very ill 5 years ago after living for 5 years in a very moldy home.

Again with the contest? It sure sounds like you could have used that $200. Unfortunately, you did not win. Perhaps you might move to a lower elevation?

I’m so glad that you commented on my blog bseauce [because] it brought me to yours! You seem like a beautiful person, inside and out (and the fact that you love Red Velvet Cheesecake doesn’t hurt either )Something random about me? hmmmI didn’t drink until my 21st birthday! I know, I know, one of the few on the face of the earth haha

Thank you! And, thanks for sharing so much about yourself. I feel like I know you.

What i don’t understood is if truth be told how you’re now not acatully [actually] much more neatly-appreciated than you may be now. You are so intelligent….

Truth be told, I don’t understood it either, but thanks!

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(Comment on Story Start 13: Going for the gold)

The truth is, your life is NOT a story, and Steve Pavlina is remiss to uesgsgt [suggest] it This is a powerful point…All wrong beliefs lead to bad decisions somewhere along the line. And so it is with this one. The theory that your life is a story will lead you to sub-optimal decisions, such as taking actions that fit the narrative best, rather than actions that are best for you and those you care about. What would make an interesting scene in a movie or even what will make a great story to tell my grandkids is not a good way to make important life decisions. I dare say, it’s hard to guess what will impress people of the future who hear about you anyway. I’m not sure you should be trying.

Wow, that’s deep man. And, ouch! I don’t know why I even bother trying either. But I think it’s easy to guess that nothing about me will impress the people of the future any more than anything about me impresses the people of the past or the present. Unless my life is a story, in which case I might be able to change the story to make people be impressed by something about me. Oh, but you’ve clearly established that my life is NOT a story. Damn it. Never mind.

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(Comment on Merry Christmas: Grinch alternate endings)

Hi Theresa,I’m glad you are finally getnitg [getting] into the holiday spirit. I was just thinking yesterday how nice it would be if Christmas gift giving focused on giving to those in need rather than buying luxuries for each other. We have to take back Christmas ourselves. Today I will venture out to do my first holiday shopping. The list is short as my family knows money is tight and they don’t want me putting myself into debt. A little something for the kids in the famiy, and luckily at 4 my son has no major demands. And for me the ack of commercial pressure this season has made it one of my the best years ever.Thank you for your wonderful comments on my horse painting I haven’t done any more yet (I’ve got to pick up that brush again) and I am happily surprised that your daughter likes it so much she wants it! I’ve never thought about selling my paintings (not that you are asking to buy it). But it isn’t spoken for and I would one day like to be able to sell my art. Thanks for giving me hope for that dream!

I’m sorry, I think you have the wrong number. No Theresa here. No daughter. And I don’t remember leaving a comment on any horse paintings. But thanks for sharing.

So, what do you think? Was I too hasty in believing the spam filter and deleting these comments?

Spam sampler
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10 thoughts on “Spam sampler

  • 05-23-2012 at 7:54 pm
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    Finally! Someone else this has happened to. I had two separate “Facebook Flurries” of spam. Same thing as you, in that the comments almost made sense – so much so that I asked my IT department (hubby) if he thought somehow someone’s FB account was linking to my blog.

    At least he enjoyed a good laugh at my expense.

    I think they are spammers with a FB page that they use to attack innocent bloggers like us. Delete and move on.

    Reply
    • 05-23-2012 at 8:13 pm
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      Aha! I was wondering if others have had the same thing happen. I think it’s only happened to me the one time. Thank you for telling me about your experience. These spammers are too creative sometimes…

      Reply
  • 05-24-2012 at 12:41 pm
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    I don’t understood how you are not acutally more neatly appreciated, either.

    It is fascinating that they’re basically well written except for the scrambled word.

    I almost wrote about this once. Does it happen to you: I read the spam that compliments me like spam. I read the spam that negatively criticizes me (“I’m not sure you should be trying” — ow!) and take it personally.

    Reply
    • 05-24-2012 at 12:49 pm
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      Thank you for the nice comment!

      These spam comments baffle me. Why the scrambled word? Why did they write such coherent — and sometimes long — paragraphs?

      Yes, I definitely do that, reading compliments as spam, but criticisms like a personal comment. What’s that about?

      Reply
  • 05-24-2012 at 8:07 pm
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    This post made me laugh, so I presented you with a blogger award on my site tonight.

    Reply
    • 05-25-2012 at 1:03 pm
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      Thank you so much! I am honored. But mostly I’m thrilled the post made you laugh! What’s funny for me is that when I posted it, I thought it was too long and no one would read it.

      I’ll write an acceptance post soon. Thanks again.

      Reply
  • 09-20-2012 at 7:14 am
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    This just started to happen with the comments on our blog, too. All of the comments came from Facebook profiles from people in various foreign countries (I sampled some of the profiles and they looked “real”).

    My guess is that the actual content of the comment is copy-pasted from some other source and that the word-scrambling is some automated process that bypasses spam filters. I would suppose that, once a comment gets eaten by a spam filter, it’s saved to a database and flagged so that subsequent copies of the same spam that get posted will automatically get eaten, too. If one word is scrambled in a unique way each time it’s reposted, it avoids being flagged.

    Just a theory. I think the Facebook profiles do this kind of thing so that they appear “real” in order to not get removed by Facebook. The profiles then “Like” commercial pages on Facebook. I read an article recently in the BBC that was talking about how marketing research companies have found that a huge amount (the vast majority in many cases) of “people” on Facebook who “Like” product/company/etc. pages are really just these fake profiles that are actually spambots.

    Reply
    • 09-20-2012 at 10:55 am
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      Wow, that makes sense. (Good theory, in other words.)

      What baffled me about this was that I couldn’t see where the payoff would be for these spammers. I had actually wondered how many “Likes” on Facebook were legitimate, but I didn’t make a connection between that and the spamming.

      Thanks for sharing this!

      Reply
  • 09-30-2013 at 2:55 pm
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    Actually this has been a serious problem for me for several years now, since my Email account started being spoofed constantly. It has (in my case) nothing to do with Facebook; I get both spam addressed to me with one word scrambled and replies to spam sent BY “me” (spoofed address) of the same sort. I don’t see how this can defeat a spam filter, and in any case most of these messages are short, pointless, inane compliments on nonexistent postings etc. Suspecting some sort of encoding scheme, I dubbed them “DYSLEXICODE” and have been saving them to a database; so far I have 482 of them and will gladly share them with anyone who has a theory for what they are meant to achieve. The “coded messages” theory has been dismissed by everyone I’ve talked to so far, since it is unclear how the coded messages would reach their intended recipients; but otherwise what is the point? Someone is going to a lot of trouble…. Since Email is far from secure, I suspect there ARE methods for intercepting such code as it moves between mailservers, but I have no clue as to how.

    Reply
    • 10-01-2013 at 10:15 pm
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      The spammers do show a lot of ingenuity (or brazenness, or both.) Too bad they use their energy for evil rather than good.

      I had not thought of the messages being somehow encoded. My original assumption was that the point of the spam was to get a link on my website in order to somehow improve the target’s ranking with search engines.

      Revisiting this topic makes me want to do more research. What motivates these things?

      Oddly, I have not had much spam for awhile now. Maybe that’s because I haven’t been actively updating the site, but I could swear I noticed that even before my posting dropped off.

      Reply

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