Down, down in the spam locker

      1 Comment on Down, down in the spam locker

This Tohu Bohu gets a lot of comment spam. Well, a lot—I don’t really know how much constitutes a lot, relative to other blogs of its circulation. But it seems like a lot to me.

The bulk of the spam falls into three categories. First are the comments that are obviously and upfront about directing people to some web site where they can consume pornography or pharmaceuticals or fancy watches that cannot be distinguished from other fancy watches by people who know nothing about fancy watches. Those are irritating and annoying, but straightforwardly so. I delete them and forget about them. There isn’t anything to think about, other than the small amount of time wasted keeping them off the blog.

The second and much larger category are the comments that appear to be from people who have happened on this Tohu Bohu and are impressed by it. Upon closer inspection, they are linking to some other site, presumably to optimize themselves to the top of search results. This is very dispiriting to YHB—My Gracious Host finds the flattering comment spam makes him feel good, but I get very depressed about all those false compliments. And even more depressed about the fact that I have trained myself to assume that any comment similar to I like your blog! is spam, and delete them all without checking. What if sometime, somebody somewhere actually does like my blog, and tries to say so, and I delete the thing without looking at it? My poor ego!

The last category are comments that appear to be comments about current events. This only started quite recently, but since I have become quite mechanical in deleting the other ones, most of my spam-killing time is spent on these. Generally, some of these refer to some Big News of the last few days—a celebrity scandal, often—and while they may be misspelled or grammatically nonstandard, they have the appearance of actual comments. I can tell that they are spam by (a) the fact that they are in response to notes that have no connection to the content of the comment, (2) the fact that they are (usually) on notes written years ago, and (3) the fact that the identical comment is submitted to different notes with different names attached. Not actually all that clever.

By the way, one of the things about having two email addresses is that often some piece of email spam that manages to come up with a sufficiently apropos subject line, so that I might be inclined to believe its disguise and open it, comes to both addies simultaneously with different sender names. That’s a bit of a giveaway, isn’t it? Actually, fairly often a bit of spam comes to the same email addy five or six times with different sender names but the same subject line. I might possibly fall for one, but I’m not going to get five emails about leaving something at my desk or cancelling lunch plans, am I? Less is definitely more, here, spammers.

Anyway. The reason I’m bothering telling you so is that in the last three or four days, this Tohu Bohu got spammed with dozens of notes about the Cordoba House, AKA the Ground Zero Mosque. As it happens, YHB, like so many fools, wrote something on the Ludicrous Kerfuffle a few weeks ago, so it wouldn’t altogether shock me to have some stranger drop by and try to set me straight about a few aspects I got wrong. However, these notes were spam; they were not written in response to my blog, were not an attempt to communicate, and were not going to be published if I could help it. Whoever put out the spam, though, did so by attempting to imitate what one might call a real blog-commenter, which meant that more than a third of the notes that came in were full of vicious and hateful bigotry. Insults directed not only at Our Only President (who is in some sense fair game, being a public figure) but at Moslems and at their religion.

Now, here’s the thing. I know that this is spam. I know that whoever typed in the note, or cut and pasted it, or caused it to be randomly chosen out of recent blog comments elsewhere by some randomizing software, I know that the spammer does not mean the insults or believe that they are true. Or care, probably. They sent notes on both sides of the issue, presumably making it look as if people were engaging each other on a topic of interest, and that the one thing that these various folk agreed on was the importance of linking to a purveyor of pornography. And, you know, I support pornography. I’m a big believer in it. I’m not offended by that part of it.

But my emotional reaction to these comments was severe. I found it deeply distasteful even to look at them enough to delete them. I can’t really justify having such a powerful negative reaction to the spam; it’s only spam, after all. And I am aware that there are—oh, shall we say ten million Americans who foolishly think that Moslems are evil, that mosques are Bad Things, and that We (vaddevah dat means) are and should be at war with Islam (vaddevah dat means, too). It’s distressing whenever I come across such people in Real Life or on the Internet, but I am not, in fact, coming across dozens of such people when I log in to this Tohu Bohu, I am just coming across comment spam. And yet, it feels as if my Tohu Bohu has been invaded by jerks and bigots.

Of course, if there’s something worse than a spammer pretending to be a bigot for the pathetic pecuniary advantage that he thinks spamming this blog will give him, it would be a politician pretending to be a bigot for the electoral advantage he thinks that will give him. Or the ratings advantage. Or book sales. But somehow I expect that, and it feels safely far away, despite the fact that these people have actual political power to make laws and change people’s lives, and potentially to result in Americans and other humans being deprived of their civil rights, their liberty, or their lives. I do get outraged by that, I really do, and I should take advantage of this Tohu Bohu to say it again. But that’s a kind of outrage that I can feel good about and even enjoy, to be perfectly frank about it. This comment spam just makes me sad and angry, and I don’t enjoy that at all.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

1 thought on “Down, down in the spam locker

  1. Matthew

    Sigh. It’s enough to make a person go back to writing letters on paper and handing them over to the postal service.

    I’ll try to write you more “real” comments, though I’m simply not as eloquent as you. Know that I’m out here reading from time to time.


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