Library, bumper-sticker shop... what's the difference?

I get a lot of link-farm spam, of varying levels of ingenuity.

This one's got a new twist, though.

From: Alicia
[sending server located in some craphole]
Subject: An Idea/Suggestion for 404 link on
Date: Tue, 3 Mar 2009 08:10:42 -0600 (CST)

Hey :-)
I happened to noticed that on the page you have an outgoing external link to, however I found that it is a broken link (doesn't look like that page exists anymore or is temporarily down). I found this page to be a good replacement if you just wanted to change the link.
Hopefully this adds another resource to your page if anything.

Hope this is of some help, thought it was a good site to reference. Hope it proves to be useful


This really does look like an actual e-mail from a human being, doesn't it?

Of course, a human being would probably have noticed that although the Internet Archive's moving image collection page has moved since I wrote that review in 2004, the old URL redirects to the new one.

A human being might also be able to detect a slight difference in content between the place I was linking to and the place "Alicia" wanted me to link instead.

The Internet Archive moving image collection lets you download, for free, tons of movies that're out of copyright or otherwise free to distribute. Nosferatu, His Girl Friday, Night of the Living Dead, Reefer Madness, old computer TV shows, cartoons, vintage educational films, "ephemeral" films; you name it. It's great., in contrast, is pretty much what you'd expect to be. The page "Alicia" wanted me to link to isn't the usual meaningless link-farm robo-content, though; it's about "The Evolution of Horror Movies", and seems to be a perfectly valid page with real content. But it also seems to not be in the Google database at all, which suggests that it's brand new.

Perhaps the idea behind this spam is to make actual valid content pages on sites that want the PageRank boost that all link schemes are about. Then you scan for broken links on Web sites and shoot off these seemingly-from-a-human e-mails, suggesting people update their link to point to your page.

The only problem is that, as usual, it's all based on software that's trying, unsuccessfully, to find targets that're relevant to the stuff the spammer is trying to advertise.

If this really is the scheme, it's a step forward from normal link-farm sites, which exist only to trick searchers into clicking on ads. But I'm still not going to help "Alicia" do it.

Posted in Scams, Spam. 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Library, bumper-sticker shop... what's the difference?”

  1. peridot Says: also contains the wonderful Sita Sings the Blues, which as the result of a copyright brangle has been released under a Creative Commons license. Go see it!

  2. Daniel Rutter Says:

    I just got another one of these, this time even more similar to a message from a real human - actually, similar enough that I think it may actually BE from a real human, so I'll anonymise it:

    From: Jane Doe
    Subject: Suggestion for broken link on
    Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2009 11:55:07 -0500 (CDT)


    My husband and I noticed on your one page (, you link to a coffee history page "five hundred years",, but the page doesn't exists anymore. We've found this really useful the history of coffee article and I thought it would be a great replacement or at least a good addition, ( . I think others will find it beneficial also.

    Hope my suggestion is helpful :)

    Thanks, hope all is well!

    Jane and John Doe

    There are two suspicious things in this e-mail. One is that the suggested replacement link is, once again, valid content that's been wedged into some random commercial site that would fit perfectly in a standard link-scheme spam. The other is that the e-mail was sent to me at my old Optus e-mail address, which you can find on if you really look, but is also on my domain registration, which is where many robo-scams harvest addresses.

    When I wrote that review, the Wikipedia History of Coffee article didn't exist yet (or it existed, but was just a stub). Now, the Wikipedia article is the obvious choice for repairing that link, so that's what I've done.


  3. filmaficionado Says:

    Doesn't the bad grammar ever bother you ?
    Based on that alone I would immediately discard a message.

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