The 9 Billion Spams

(C)2007 K BjorkeXenical Xenical
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I have been shovelling the spam. Not so much here, but over at PhotoPermit.Org.

The spam comes in multiple flavors. The most common are spurious forum posts; unrelated trackback pings to old, obscure posts from the main news feed; and the creation of fake user accounts, sometimes with and sometimes without a 'home page' link to some often non-existant URL selling levitra and auto insurance ringtones teen grandma+sex of come sort or another.

Some of it — like the 1300 pings that I deleted this morning, including about fifty that had been added to a single year-old news item over the course of twenty minutes — are surely placed there by robots. The robots appear to be increasingly sophisticated, able to recognize and bypass shifting command tag titles, php file names, and handily confirming passwords.

I've been regularly hacking-in counter-measures, adding non-standard features to my local WordPress and phpbb in attemps to thwart the 'bots. And have come to the conclusion that it's not just bots, but also live humans who are adding a great deal of the spam.

For even the poorest wage slave in some remote (but wired) corner of the world, how can this be profitable? Who do they expect will come to farm-up the information contained in the user profile of "Y67chick" and follow it to buy videos and warez? Even if in the hopes of having some Google spider raise a page ranking, what's the point of attempting to raise the ranking of a page that's not even there? And for every successful attempt to register a new false user and use that account to post a list of discount office supply links, how many more attempts fail?

Though the web is large, and the margins narrow: even then, how can anyone expect all this effort to be profitable?

It was when I was deleting pings that it came to me. Deleting them in careful steps, 15 at a time, in a stready ritual and repetitive motion of scroll-down/click 'invert selection'/click 'delete selected'/click 'Okay'... scroll-down/click 'invert selection'/click 'delete selected'/click 'Okay'... scroll-down/click 'invert selection'/click 'delete selected'/click 'Okay'... as my head swayed rhythmically over the keyboard and my hand twitched predictably at the mouse I felt at one with the universe of data and the voice of the One True Spam sang clear in my heart. I realized in that moment that spam is not a business proposition.

Spam is a form of prayer, and needs no sensible rationale. Spamming the world is an act of faith, and the realities of the spamming, its effectiveness, its purpose are unneeded details.

We beseech you:

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February 23, 2007

 

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