Damn my impoverishing ethics! Damn them to hell!

From: Stephen Sprogis <stephensprogis@hotmail.com>
Date: Wed, 5 Sep 2012 18:04:34 -0400
To: dan@dansdata.com
Subject: Extra money for you

Hi Dan,

   I see you would like to recieve some extra money, so I'd like to offer you $10 a day to display an ad banner for Virtual Pilot 3d. I'd be happy to pay you the first 3 days upfront via Paypal, and every Monday thereafter as long as we're in business. Let me know if you're interested.

Sincerely,

Steve

I ditched Burst Media as my annoying-banner-ad provider on dansdata.com a while ago (they didn't close my account with no explanation, I QUIT, that's my story and I'm sticking to it). So just sticking a hard-coded banner at the top of every page and getting a no-muss-no-fuss seventy bucks a week for it doesn't seem like a bad idea at all.

(DealExtreme showed some interest in running a banner too, which would be a very natural fit for the site, but we had a lot of trouble communicating. Their banner-ad-buying person does not seem to be one of their English-understanding people. Perhaps when they complete their long voyage to the new and improved dx.com, which is now working fine in parallel with the old site, they'll have another go. If someone reading this is from DealExtreme, or anywhere else that is in honest business and would like to buy a simple whole-site ad on dansdata.com or this blog, talk to me!)

I'm not going to stick a static ad on my site if it's promoting a terrible piece of software, though. So I had a little look for reviews of this Virtual Pilot 3D thing, of which I'd never heard.

Those reviews seem oddly thin on the ground. Hit one in my Google search is a press release, hit two is virtualpilot3d.eu, and hit three is a page on virtualpilot3d.eu called, of all things, "Virtual Pilot 3D™ Scam", full of what seems to be machine-translated gibberish.

That weird European site also has a page called "Virtual Pilot 3D™ Is Not Flightgear", which explains:

...As previously noted, a division or segment of society Flightgear was a very special reason. The FG and the Virtual Pilot 3D™ There are major changes between.

Virtual Pilot 3D™ some outstanding features include:

* Enhanced plug and play system running smoothly.
* Very complex and require technical knowledge to start a game without having to perform a quick easy way.

...et cetera.

Presumably this was also machine-translated from something else, but I think I get the gist. Why are they so enthusiastic about telling us their flight simulator isn't some other flight simulator?

Back to looking for reviews. The fourth hit is people discussing Virtual Pilot 3D on a flight-sim forum, one of whom points to the Wikipedia article for the free open-source flight simulator... FlightGear.

It would appear that the Virtual Pilot 3D people have, at time of writing, been unsuccessful in getting that Wikipedia article to not point out that their commercial product is a rebadged version of FlightGear.

You can't take Wikipedia as gospel about everything, though, and it doesn't have any sources for the specific claim that Virtual Pilot 3D, as opposed to other commercial flight-sims called "Flight Pro Sim, Pro Flight Simulator, etc", is a FlightGear rebadge job.

So let's take another tack.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun covers pretty much everything worth knowing about PC gaming. When some oddball game comes up for $2.49 on Steam and I've no idea what it is, Rock, Paper, Shotgun almost always has a review.

They also have a regular column, The Flare Path, about military strategy games and flight-sims. I wonder...

Well, that was easy. The Flare Path for the 24th of August is, entertainingly, titled "Don't Buy VirtualPilot3D".

My name is Tim Stone. I've been a flight simmer for thirty years, and a flight sim critic for 4369 days, 9 hours, and 37 minutes. In all that time I don't think I've ever loathed a piece of software as passionately as I loathe the game you are currently thinking about buying. If you can spare a moment I'll explain why.

Oh, my.

The Virtual Pilot 3D people didn't just copy FlightGear; they also ripped off demo videos and images from completely different flight-sims, and photos from real life, presenting them all as being from Virtual Pilot 3D.

VP3D pinched picture

Picture allegedly of Virtual Pilot 3D.

NASA flight simulator

Picture definitely on a NASA site.

And then, there's this...

Fake testimonial

...oh, just read it, it's funny.

This isn't the worst case of game "authors" ripping things off from other people and hoping no-one will notice. The worst case would be the point-and-click adventure game Limbo of the Lost, which also scored coverage on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, and even has its own wiki. (The wiki is largely devoted to tracing the illegally-copied sources for every component of Limbo of the Lost, including little-known indie oddities like Thief 3 and Oblivion.)

But gee, the Virtual Pilot 3D guys really are trying for the game-scam gold medal, aren't they?

Well, there goes my ten bucks a day. It's normal for annoying Web banner ads to sometimes be for scammy products, but deliberately running a constant ad for known scam-software exceeds the limits of even my highly elastic ethics. If the guy was offering me a thousand dollars a day, then since he's not actually selling fake antivirus software or botnet infectors or something (as far as we know...), I'd run the ad, take the money, kick half of it back to local charities and sleep the sleep of the just. But I doubt I'd be able to haggle him up that far.

So, until Sir Dolly Santos of the East Umbopoland Embassy To Nigeria comes through with that $US57,144,000 he promised me after I wired him $500, readers are still cordially invited to reward me for my honesty concerning Virtual Pilot 3D by making a small donation.

No, wait. Make it a large one.

A frequently-to-be-repeated offer

Anybody who runs a blog with more than one post a year will receive unsolicited offers of "content". I get them all the time.

It's a distinct category of spam. They offer you a "free" blog-post worth of text, and often also a small amount of money, in return for you publishing said text, a few words in which link to some Web site the contributor specifies.

This one's a little more interesting than most.

From: Robert Lobitz <r.lobitz@kasacapitalmarketing.com>
To: rutterd@OPTUSNET.COM.AU

[This is not a good sign. That e-mail address is the one on my dansdata.com domain registration; it's not my actual Dan's Data contact address, dan@dansdata.com, that anybody who visited the actual site could find. Mail to domain-registration addresses is sort of like when a phone caller starts out by asking if he's speaking to Mr or Mrs surname-of-partner-to-whom-you-are-not-married.]

Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2012 12:49:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: dansdata.com Article

Hello,

I would like to start by saying that I was thrilled to find dansdata.com - it's not everyday I find a website of this caliber!

[Whenever someone cold-e-mails me saying something like this, I Google what they just said and, usually, find a few thousand copies of the same text, making clear that they not only actually do find a site "of this caliber" every day, but may find one approximately every minute. This time, though, there were only a couple of hits. So, good so far!]

I am interested in having one of my unique and interesting to read articles

[Yeah! Sell it, baby!]

published on dansdata.com. In return, all I ask for is that you let me include a link to my site HIDXenonHeadlights.com from within the article --- I would be willing to offer a one-time monetary contribution as well. Please let me know if this sounds like something you'd be interested in.

Cheers,
Robert
Public Relations
KASA Capital
909-444-5100

As I write this, the first hit in a Google search for this gentleman's alleged name is an article called "A Brave New Reality: Changing the Bird Cages of the World"

I cannot, in all honesty, say that that article is truly "interesting to read". It's more like "first-year university student trying to make it to the specified page count when he didn't do the reading, has a killer hangover, and has to turn in the paper in one hour".

The "Brave New Reality" article is also almost entirely free of any actual information. The world must change, and the world changes, and we should change the world, apparently. But it does at least seem to be pretty close to "unique", and not sprayed all over umpteen other blogs that also accepted the "one-time monetary contribution".

(To see if a given chunk of text is a "proper" article and not a sort of journalistic copypasta, take a distinctive string from the article - in this case, let's use the rather odd "Among my pursuits and businesses are the caring of birds as protected pets" - and search for that. [Spelling errors make these searches a lot easier.] Your typical spam-article, scam e-mail or bullshit Wikipedia reprint sold on eBay will have a zillion hits. As I write this, though, the "Brave New Reality" article is only published, as opposed to discussed, on two sites, culturechange.org and evolvingsustainability.com. The latter site is currently down, and may belong to the same guy as the first site anyway.)

The real purpose of "Brave New Reality" is, of course, not to actually inform or entertain. It's to link to a site and get it some Google-juice. In this case, that site is BirdCages.net. Hence the rather stretched metaphor.

Hit two for Robert Lobitz's name is "Child-proofing the Bedroom". Again, it's plainly been written by someone who doesn't have much writing skill, and it doesn't really say very much, but it is unique to the site it's on. And it gets its link in, too, this time to BunkBeds.net, which unsurprisingly looks very much like BirdCages.net.

Those two sites are both subtitled "A KASA Store". KASA Capital are strangely reticent about how many of these sites there are in their "diverse network of e-commerce entities", but I think it's safe to say there are a lot of them. They seem to be kosher online shops, too; no discount Viagra or fake watches.

I wanted to see just how many of these sites there are. It took me a moment to find something to search for that was distinctive to sites following the BirdCages.net/BunkBeds.net template, but I managed it by searching for a couple of strings of the hours their customer-service phone line is open.

Motorcycle fairings, medical scrubs, baby changing stations, martial arts supplies, silk flowers, caviar, boxing bags, radio-controlled planes, bike carriers, easels... if I'm counting right, there are 20 KASA sites found by the above search. If they've got more than one template, they could have a lot more than twenty sites.

I think it's safe to say that KASA are not experts on train horns, bar stools, poker chips, fish tanks and so on. I would, in fact, bet good money that they're just drop-shippers, who never even see the products they sell. Buy at wholesale, sell at retail, send goods straight from the wholesaler to the customer, spend the rest of your day on the golf course.

(The contact-hours search didn't find HIDXenonHeadlights.com, the site the article Robert was offering me would have to link to, because HIDXenonHeadlights.com has a different template. Searching for a string from that site's contact page found a few more KASA sites.)

So as far as KASA's actual retail business goes, they may not be the best place to buy any of the numerous things they sell, but I see no reason to suppose they'll take your money and run.

This still doesn't make it a good idea for blog-owners to take link-buyers like KASA up on their offers, though.

For a start, all you get, besides however much money they offer, is this worthless fluff-content that only exists to link to some site that frequently has nothing to do with the site on which the fluff appears.

More importantly, if Google notice you're engaging in link-buying schemes - or have been so deeply idiotic as to allow links to link-buyers' sites to appear on your site for free - they'll punish you by reducing your site's PageRank, as well as that of the link-buyers themselves. Serious offenders can be erased from Google altogether until they perform suitable penance.

So I'm sorry, Robert, but unless the "one-time monetary contribution" is in excess of a hundred thousand dollars, I'm afraid I'll have to turn down your offer.

And congratulations: You're in a pretty lousy business, but you could be worse!

Fnord!

From: "freemason illuminati" <noreply@freemason.org>
To: yourorder@fi.org
Reply-To: order@illuminati.umail.net
Subject: fi
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2012 07:10:41 +1200

You are receiving this mail in regards of the freemason confraternity of the
whole wide world (FCWWW).

You are moving well in what you are doing but in order to make it easier for
you, we have concluded for you to be a part of us as a member to sign your
life to us and have any thing you need.

Be it any thing in the whole wide world.

You can't refuse us now for it's too late.

Get back to us now for your Illuminati membership Order and also for you to
know more about the ancient ILLUMINATI FORUM and also the Orientation and
goals that we pursue.

Get back to acquire your goal now.

I would appear to not be the only person who is moving well, et cetera. The Freemason Confraternity of the Whole Wide World also seem to be offering a better deal than the LaRouche people.

(Yes, the local LaRouchies continue to e-mail me periodically, unconcerned by their continuing terrible prophetic record, and not inclined to admit any errors.)

Fi.org is registered to someone in Denmark, and rather appropriately www.fi.org currently redirects to shady.dk. But that's just a parked domain now; it looked something like this in 2007. The Internet Archive have numerous copies of fi.org going back as far as 1998, but they all seem to be parked-domain redirectors too.

(I suppose archive.org just didn't know the secret handshake.)

Not the publicity he was looking for, instalment 3762

A reader, well actually he probably isn't, writes:

From: "japan-best.com webmaster" <postmaster@japan-best.com>
Date: Mon, 07 May 2012 22:27:24 +0900
To: dan@dansdata.com
Subject: Inclusion in one of your articles

Dear Dan

I am Marc with japan-best.com

i read your article here

http://www.dansdata.com/contact.html

and would like the possibility of include my site in it.
I have also took note of yOur paypal adress :-)

You can check us here :
japan-best.com <http://japan-best.com/en/>

I am looking forward to hearing from you and discuss that further

Have a great day

Regards
Marc

Marc, buddy, your Spam-O-Matic might need a little recalibration, there.

My contact-and-donation pages may score surprisingly high for various panhandling Google searches, but that doesn't mean it'd be a good place for you to advertise your site full of allegedly Japanese merchandise.

Including, I now see, some front-page items whose description does not match their pictures.

At first glance, Japan-Best looks like a valid online store, but the more things I click on, the more I think it may actually be a 100%-machine-built lazy-dropshipper paradise. Or, conceivably, just a fancy way of stealing credit card numbers.

Or maybe it's legit, if clumsy, but massively overpriced. Look at this hideous wristwatch, for instance; from Japan-Best, including shipping, it costs twice as much as the same item on eBay.

Between eBay and legit dealers like HobbyLink Japan, I don't think there's much reason for anybody to buy stuff from weird machine-made sites like Japan-Best. But I'm sure a little PayPal baksheesh to get some crafty links inserted in random high-PageRanked Web pages will turn that right around for you, Marc!

UPDATE: Marc quickly replied in the comments below. Then, more than six months later, he decided to e-mail me this:

Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2012 14:30:50 +0900
From: "japan-best.com " <postmaster@japan-best.com>
To: dan@dansdata.com
Subject: remove private infos

japan-best.com here,
Say what you want about the website.
but remove the email adress from the article, you have no right to do that.

So apparently the postmaster@domain address is sooper sekrit private information now. I learn something every day!

This on top of the strangely popular idea among Internet ne'er-do-wells - which is the only reason I'm bothering to add this update to the post - that there's something confidential about e-mail you send to strangers.

It might be polite to not publish the reply address as well as the rest of an unsolicited commercial e-mail from a stranger, but "rights" don't come into it. Well, unless there's some nutty Net-privacy law where the complainant and/or "culprit" live that forbids disclosing such information without consent.

Failing that, there is no more reasonable expectation of privacy of your return address when you send an e-mail to a stranger than there is of your phone number if you telephone a stranger who has Caller ID. People you annoy on the Internet have no legal obligation to keep your identity secret.

And if your address is one of the standard addresses you should expect to find on any mail server...

So I reckon I'll leave it as it is, Marc. Your move, genius.

Posted in Scams, Spam. 7 Comments »

Give me money or I'll hurt you! My name is, "My Mother-In-Law"!

I have, of late, discovered that titling a blog post "You have money you didn't know about! Give us some of it!", and/or mentioning unclaimed money recovery services in that post, will attract a constant flow of spam-comments.

Spam-comments are aimed at the other 828 posts on this blog (829, counting this one) from time to time, but the unclaimed-money post gets way more than all of the others put together.

(It'll be interesting to see if the spammers now start aiming at this post as well, since I've used some of the same magical scam-attracting words.)

Akismet catches very nearly all of the spam-comments, so they never make it to the actual visible page and all I have to do is occasionally click the "empty" button for the spam-bin in my WordPress control panel. But still they come. Some are for the dodgy financial services you'd expect, but there are also many for other things, like the inevitable pharmacies, knockoff couture and wristwatches and, for some reason, at least one spammer monomaniacally obsessed with coupons for replacement heads for Swiffer floor cleaners.

This comment's an absolute star, though:

PAYPAL DONATE ME NOW OR I WILL HACK YOUR WEBSITE Says:
10 April 2012 at 12:23 am

PAYPAL PAYPAL DONATE ME NOW OR I WILL HACK YOUR WEBSITE- DON'T YOU DARE TO REPORT PAYPAL...

PAYPAL PAYPAL DONATE ME MOTHER PHUCKER NOW OR I WILL HACK YOUR WEBSITE - Scraped Media Pty Ltd MY PAYPAL IS PAYPAL@5t8.com - Scraped Media Pty Ltd - PAYPAL IS support@scrapebox.com Payment Sent to: MY PAYPAL IS support@scrapebox.com...

Akismet caught this one too, but it's so funny that I approved it anyway.

(Actually it's a trackback, not a comment. It purports to be a trackback from a post on donatenoworyourssitegone.com, but that site does not actually exist; the extremely desirable domain name isn't even registered. The trackback was, instead, probably sent from purpose-built comment-spamming software.)

This distinctive wording can be found on a few other pages. In this thread, someone who probably actually does represent Scraped Media says that this is some guy trying to frame them. It's a joe job, in other words; making someone else look bad by spamming ads for your competitors' products, or pretending to be your enemy and making threats, or blowing up your own shop, et cetera.

I wonder if this could actually work, though, and get Scrapebox's PayPal account frozen. A result like that wouldn't really stand out among the world's many dismal tales of PayPal dysfunction.

(To be fair, I did get my money back that one time, but it was because the seller didn't contest my claim.)

Since Scraped Media appear to be, via their ScrapeBox software, in the comment-spam business themselves, in this particular conflict I think it's a damn shame somebody has to win. (And yes, ScrapeBox can fire off fake trackbacks just like this one.)

I'll check back on this in a few weeks, and see who actually ends up doing what to whom.

Middle managers, telephone sanitisers, hairdressers and SEO Specialists

Here's an oddity that washed up in this morning's tide:

From: Montgomery, Luke <Luke.Montgomery@tektronix.com>
To: dan@dansdata.com
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2011 16:18:47 -0700
Subject: Tektronix Site Resource

Dear Daniel Rutter,

I found your website, Dan's Data and wanted to thank you for providing such great information about PC Hardware and Gadgets. I was wondering if it would be possible to provide a link to our website (http://www.tek.com/products/digital-multimeter/) as a potential resource on Multimeters. We noticed you already reference the phrase on the following page: http://www.dansdata.com/io072.htm, so hopefully, it’d be an easy change on your end.

Link should look like this if possible:

I did some resistance measuring with my multimeter between the legs and got:

Once you've completed this task, if it's not too much trouble, would you mind just sending a quick confirmation email? That way, I can mark your website off my action and follow-up list.

Thank you in advance for your support. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Luke Montgomery
SEO Specialist, Worldwide Marketing
Phone: 503.627.4672
www.tektronix.com

On the face of it, this is a normal link-spam e-mail. Your standard form letter - "I found your site, $SITENAME and wanted to thank you for providing such great information about $SCRAPED_SUBJECT...", and then a request for a link from some random machine-detected page on the site - in this case, the question portion of this letter.

But this link-spam's an odd one, because tek.com really is the Web site for Tektronix, who really are a big name in test and measurement gear - they're possibly the biggest name in oscilloscopes, just as Fluke are the biggest name in multimeters.

(And now, thanks to Wikipedia, I know that Fluke and Tektronix are today both subsidiaries of the same corporation!)

Tektronix.com redirects to tek.com, and they're not even trying to get some Google juice for a new domain name; tek.com and tektronix.com are similarly antiquitous.

If a human had bothered to look at the page they were asking me to link from, they probably would have noticed that such a link would only be appropriate if the multimeter being mentioned was a Tektronix product. Which, since the meter in question belongs to one of my readers, not me, I do not know. But I doubt it, because Tektronix multimeters are really nice and really expensive. The entry-level model on the page they want me to link to lists for $US750, and the top-of-the-line model is $US1350.

That's too rich for my blood, so I couldn't even validly link to the tek.com page from some use of the words "my multimeter" that was actually me talking about my multimeter. My good multimeter for formal dinners and meeting heads of state is...

Stock voltage

...a Protek 506, here seen in the company of one of my random sub-$10 meters and my Micronta 22-195A, which was the very first multimeter I ever bought, when I was so young I still thought it was pretty cool to buy things at Tandy. (It still works. Might even still be accurate.)

So, to Luke Montgomery, SEO Specialist: Send me a Tektronix DMM4050 and I assure you that even though I'll never use at least half of its features, I will link to any page you like the next time I refer to using it, without the tiresome nofollows I've put on all the links to your site above.

And, to Tektronix: Don't do this. (Or pay an Experienced Organic Web Strategist like the windswept and interesting and possibly insomniac Luke Montgomery to do it for you.) It's stupid.

If Tektronix made a general site about what multimeters are and what they do, then links of this sort, to that site, would be valid. Links to particular products from general terms are the opposite of informative, though. This one would be worthless to readers who already know about multimeters, and would either annoy or actively misinform readers who don't already know about multimeters. It's like asking someone to link some random mention of "my car" to BMW's page for the current 5 Series.

Search engine optimisation can be perfectly valid - when, for instance, it makes it easier for people who want to buy the sort of thing you sell to find you.

Tell someone you're in the "SEO" business, though, and they'll probably assume you spend your days pursuing a higher Google PageRank by polluting the Web with misleading and useless information. And they will probably be right.

In conclusion, as regular readers will by now be expecting: Take it awaaaaay, Bill!

UPDATE: Luke Montgomery got back to me, with about the best response I think the laws of physics permit in this situation:

Okay I admit the email did seem a bit spammy. I realize you must receive a lot of spam/email/link-requests all the time so I just wanted to apologize. I send out emails all the time requesting links and I guess after I while I just get in a rut and start to sound like a robot. I am sorry for the spam, my intention was never to bother you. Your post made me realize how I was sounding and I'm sorry.

Luke

There may be hope for the boy yet!

Scam, or double-scam?

A piquant little spamlet to ring in the new year:

To: dan@dansdata.com
Subject: Ad Request...
From: Jami
Date: Sat, 1 Jan 2011 21:07:50 +0700 (ICT)

Good Day,

Our company is interested in placing the below employment ad with your Newspaper today. We want you to get back to us with the cost to run our ad= for 3 weeks in Newspaper and print.

OUR AD COPY AS TO BE PLACED:

WE ARE SEEKING DYNAMIC RECEPTIONIST ORIENTED INDIVIDUALS WITH GREAT COMMU
NICATIONS AND
TYPING SKILLS NEEDED TO WORK ON BEHALF OF COMPANY THIS SERVICE REPRESENTA
TIVE WILL EARN UP TO
$2000 MONTHLY ANY JOB EXPERIENCE NEEDED.EMAIL US AT: resume20111@hotmail
.com IF INTERESTED

Also, let me know if you do print category such as Yahoo Hot jobs, Monster,Carrier-builder OR ANY JOB SITE you have.Do you accept Visa or Master Credit Card, identify the type you accept.

I await the above quotation asap.

Best Regards,
Jami Erickson

I'll be sure to pass this on to my Carrier-building friends, "Jami"! They'll get back to you very soon about conventional versus nuclear power, aircraft complement and so on.

The only real question in my mind is whether this spammer and his how-dare-you-suggest-it-might-be-stolen credit card number is really trying to place these dodgy job ads, or whether it's just another attempt to get suckers directly, by waiting for replies that say "actually I'm not a newspaper, but boy, that job sounds sweet!"

Could be both, I suppose. Either way, the jobs themselves will surely turn out to be the usual money-mule or "deposit this fake cheque and then send us some real money" sort of scam.

The "if you do print category" word-salad also reminds me of the odd use of the word "do" in many African spam-scams, such as the immortal "and if you do accept credit card".

Posted in Scams, Spam. 5 Comments »

Thesaurus Spam 2: The Comment Years

"Thesaurus spam" tries to avoid automated unsolicited-commercial-message detection by automatically replacing words in the spam text with "synonyms". I put scare-quotes are around "synonyms" because thesaurus spam often fails to pick anything even close to a true synonym. So "we will fight them on the beaches" could, for instance, become "ourselves will affray them on the littoral".

I hardly receive any thesaurus-spam via e-mail any more (largely because of upstream filtering; it's probably still quite popular), but I do still see it. Most recently, in comments on this blog.

What happens is, a spammer comes along and creates a commenting account with a "Website" link to whatever site they want to spamvertise. Today, this was a commenter called "batterysea", linking to www.uk-power-battery.co.uk. (All evidence of this commenter has now been erased, of course.)

Then the commenter goes into robospam mode. Instead of posting the usual robospam comments that say something like "Louis Vuitton Prada best replica fakes Rolex Viagra" et cetera et cetera, with links to a Web site from pretty much every word, they create an innocuous, linkless, plain-text comment. At a glance, the new spam-comment kind of looks as if it belongs on the page. That's because it does kind of belong there, on account of being a copy of an earlier comment on the same page, but with the Thesaurus-O-Matic run over it to make the copying less obvious (and difficult, if not impossible, to auto-detect).

I've plucked a few of these ticks off the blog before, but this one this one managed to splatter a few more comments around before I stopped him, so I paid more attention. I presume these spammers try to strike a balance between getting a commercially useful amount of spam transmitted, without obviously producing tons of new comments that even a dozy admin is likely to notice. In the "batterysea" case, there were nine comments, posted at one-minute intervals on my nine most recent posts.

On this post, for instance, there's a legitimate comment from Anne that says

Clearly I am culturally deprived - I don't read magazines, I don't watch TV, and I surf the web with adblock. So where would I see these ads?

Maybe a better question is, do these ads actually sell products? I mean, if I'm trying to decide on which fan to buy for my PC, is seeing an ad in a magazine actually going to affect my decision, whether the ad has giant robots or sober statistics?

And then, at the end of the page, along came the spammer to say

Clearly I am culturally beggared - I don't apprehend magazines, I don't watch TV, and I cream the web with adblock. So area would I see these ads?

Maybe a more good catechism is, do these ads absolutely advertise products? I mean, if I'm aggravating to adjudge on which fan to shop for for my PC, is seeing an ad in a annual absolutely activity to affect my decision, whether the ad has behemothic robots or abstaining statistics?

On this post, the spammer lifted just the second paragraph of my own comment, which started out

It's possible that such a scheme would actually be legit, but it's probable that it would not, because people sending money would have the implicit assumption that they were going to get something in return, even if it was as unlikely to be valuable as a lottery ticket.

That part became

It's accessible that such a arrangement would absolutely be legit, but it's apparent that it would not, because bodies sending money would accept the absolute acceptance that they were activity to get article in return, alike if it was as absurd to be admired as a action ticket.

...in the spam-comment.

When the robospammer can't find any words to thesaurusise, it ends up just duplicating an existing comment. For instance, Fallingwater's comment on this post:

The Asus EeePC 1005HA is, I think, the device that loses its rubber feet fastest than anything else that has been produced.

My solution: melt glue. Four puddles where the feet used to be have made my EeePC stick to surfaces again. Less than when it had the rubber feet, but a hell of a lot better than naked plastic.

...was duplicated word-for-word by the spammer.

This is a really feeble kind of spamming. All commenter Web-site links on this blog, and pretty much every other blog, are nofollowed, as are links in the comments themselves. So you don't get search-engine prominence from this technique, and you don't even get any traffic to speak of, unless human readers click on your commenter-name. I presume this happens even less often than people clicking on the links in the "Dolce Gabbana Dior bags Gucci handbags Chanel Hermes..." sorts of comments.

I think the only way to make comments that really look as if a human posted them would be by creating a spambot with something resembling real, "strong", AI, like the burgeoning network-creatures in Maelstrom, the second of Peter Watts' excellent "Rifters" series (all three books of which are downloadable for free!).

In the meantime, we get aphasic thesaurus-robots, all that can be said for which is that they're more successful than the robots that make hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds, of accounts called things like "aFZflRhBzRsYq <asdfwerj5@gmail.com>", but never manage to post a single actual comment.