Sunday, 25 April 2010

A worthless post on the nature and cause of spamming - with due apologies to Adam Smith


Every day morning, my one sure chore is this – open Blogger after dodging the net nanny and delete the couple of spam comments that my blog has attracted. Irritation has started to give a little way to intrigue - who are these guys and gals and what are they trying to do ??

These days common email services such as Hotmail, Yahoo and Google have pretty good spamguards; so the number of spam emails can be controlled. Of course the majority of emails in the world are spam – some 60-80% of all emails in the internet is spam ; says something about human nature doesn’t it. But Blogger, for some reason, doesn’t seem to have a spam guard. Presumably it views blogs like mine as virtually indistinguishable from the nonsense that is spam.

One variety of spammers are the scamsters . Nigerians had a dominant market share in this market, but the business is now truly global. I would have thought anybody in this world will now delete messages titled- “Congratulations you have just won the lottery:”, without a second thought, but obviously I am wrong. There must be enough suckers on earth for this sort of spamming to be worth the while for scamsters.

Second are the Viagra proponents. I don’t think any product is as advertised in the spamming world as Viagra. I have no clue why. I know the male species suffers from many inadequacies, but I had not realised that this particular shortcoming was an epidemic of such proportions.

Third, and probably biggest is pure porn. All sorts of varieties of porn. Its another telling commentary on human nature that porn is by far the most successful business model on the internet and the largest topic of search on Google, etc etc. Not a great testimonial to our race.

The fourth category are the oddballs. I consistently get spam that says something like “Thank you for the post that was very valuable in doing my homework”. Another one says “My English is not very good”. Now why on earth would somebody bother spamming a message like that.

Surprisingly I rarely seem to come across political spam. I would have thought Free Jerusalem or Kashmir Independence would be attractive for spammers, but I don’t seem to have ever seen them. Not even Palin for President !!

Maybe I should try spamming a little bit to “experience” the phenomenon, for I cannot even begin to understand it. If you see an Email or a comment in your blog titled “Free movie tickets for night show in Devikala theatre donated by Gils”, you’ll know who it is from !

14 comments:

Sandhya Sriram said...

me first

Sandhya Sriram said...

quite an interesting topic to ponder upon!!

what motivates Spam?

Well i told one of my friends that i blog and he was completely surprised that why should people blog? and then what he spoke was very much in the same vein (though not in the same content).

different people, different ways

But as you said, the type of contents really makes one think. one logic is probably these are contents which evoke extreme responses. one crowd will immediately feel extremely odd and would completely shy away and another crowd will not want to go off it and both crowds dont understand each other or connect to each other in any way makes it mystic to both sides.

where it hurts me is that this parallel world which exists has many followers (including many young minds) and none evident on the face of it and these corrupted minds can go to any extent many times, seviourly damaging.

gils said...

// If you see an Email or a comment in your blog titled “Free movie tickets for night show in Devikala theatre donated by Gils”, you’ll know who it is from //

kandipa athu nejama thaan irukum :D :D neenga epo india vareenga sollunga..ungaluku kandipa devikala la naan sponsor panren :D

zeno said...

ROTFL for the last para

ambulisamma said...

Wordpress is easy with spamguarding,they have a widget for it and upon adding it,you are spam free.
In 6 months i have got only 35 spam comments and they were all duly blocked.
Want to be spam free?
Move to wordpress.

RS said...

Ambulisamma, you said exactly what I was about to type. Wordpress has a really good spamguard, Ramesh! You can try shifting(if your net nanny permits).

Regarding spams, there is a regular mail in yahoo. Someone has a huge wealth, want me to guard it until they are in safe hands, for which I will get a share of it etc...Had all those mails been true, I'd be a multi-billionaire now :P

Another kind: A mail from one of my contacts, telling they are stranded in some weird place, asking for money to return back...

//“Free movie tickets for night show in Devikala theatre donated by Gils//
This does not sound like a spam at all. I'll be tempted to believe. Gils, if you are planning to sponsor, pls sponsor for a real good movie with popcorns, please...

Ramesh said...

@sandhya - I can understand a non blogger being completely puzzled by why anybody blogs. But spammers ?? That's a different species altogether. They deserve to be kicked - because of then costs of everything has shot up like crazy - it takes a lot of money to defend against them and their cousins - the virus creators.

@gils - I am going to hold this on you. Next time I come to Chennai, movie with gils (complete with film education for the dunce) is on the cards.

@zeno - :)

@ambulisamma - Yes Wordpress is better, but when I started blogging blogger was allowed by the net nanny and wordpress was not. By now you should have gathered that loyalty goes to absurd lengths with me - so I won't shift !!

@RS - No the nanny does not permit , but even if it did, its too much of a pain shifting - majority of my readers get the posts on email and its just a complete bum to shift. Yeah ; I've got the same mails too - the one regarding somebody stranded does confuse people even now.

Vishal said...

Very good categorization of spam emails. Never thought this way. I get more spam emails than readable emails in my inbox. In fact, have to delete 20 odd emails everyday. Very strange situation.

Ramesh said...

@Vishal - Do you still get as many even after you categorize every one as junk - normally the mail junk filters do a good job.

Hopfrog said...

LOL, funny stuff. Prescription medication seems to be the most common in my spambox.

Whats scary is they have a new angle, called "spoofing", where they send out the spam and it appears to come from your email address. Apparently there is something in the code that allows a sender to manipulate the identity of the sender.

I actually got a thank you from someone in my contact list for spamming them a cheap prescription medication website. Sadly I must admit it was my dim-wi....errr.... non-tech savvy mother. It was the first time I realized I was getting "spoofed"... I had to tell her, it was not me, don't use it. She then proceeded to talk about what great deals they have and how she might use them.... ARGH!!! this is why spammers exist... because of nincompoops like my mother!!!

RamMmm said...

That was a ROTFL Sunday post.

True, Email spam guards are now far effective. My active accounts have far less spam. I still have a Yahoo! account which gets around 2000 spam mails every quarter (they all sit in the Spam folder though). I have not been there this quarter though to see the latest stats. :-)

The third proposition is the scariest. You don't know what'll pop-up at you. Pandora's box. Even common web-sites need to be filtered by a nanny on the PC for a kid-friendly PC.

These days, spammers are scamsters are aplenty and highly tech savvy. if they could infect a computer to be a bot by just having them visit a site and no clicking needed, they can do anything.

Ramesh said...

@Hopfrog - Aww - your mom is probably from the place and time when black was black and white was white and life wasn't as complicated as it is now !!!

@RamMmm - I know - its tough being a parent of internet savvy kids these days. The online world is just a mirror of the real world I think - its a pity that there are as many unsavoury characters as there are honourable ones.

Deepa said...

ha ha ha! Great one! When I was a kid, I used to get scared by the thought of '3 years of bad luck, for not forwarding some stupid mails'. Now I don't even care if it threatens to kill me in 1 day! So far things have been good!

Oh btw I did recieve that 'Devikala mail'! And some follower of your blog did advice me to watch movies to work on my Tamil!

Vishal said...

I do actually, sometimes there are few spams on my office emails too... strange but irritating at times!

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