Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Let the products sell themselves. Fuck advertising, commercial psychology. Psychological methods to sell should be destroyed.

I'm generally curious what you the reader thinks. So for the last 8 years I've attempted to keep the barrier to blog comments as low as possible. No registration or codewords necessary, not even a real name. In fact some of the best comments have been from Anonymous. And some of the worst too. Regardless of identity —or lack thereof— I'm genuinely interested in all responses from real people.  

Unfortunately I've now gotta pull the plug on that system. Not because of trolls —most of whom I actually find entertaining. Sergei, that's you!— but spam. Somehow the Spambots have figured out that B is vulnerable, and they've been attacking with ads in the form of comments. These are usually on older posts, perhaps because I'm less likely to notice? For several years the number was manageable but over the past few months the pace has accelerated to the point where it now dominates all other comments. 

Here's a sampling of one hour of blog spam:

Here's a typical message:

It's a chain of various keywords and links designed to sell something or other, I have no idea what. The "sentences" have no normal syntax. They're just word groupings. It's spam designed to be picked up by Crawlers. Robots talking to robots. I've tried in earnest but I can't think of one thing in the universe less meaningful than a robot selling a product to another robot. It really sucks the big one. Hard! 

The Minutemen voiced similar thoughts 30 years ago in Shit From An Old Notebook:

Let the products sell themselves.
Fuck advertising, commercial psychology.
Psychological methods to sell should be destroyed.
Because of their own blind involvement in their own conditioned minds...
The unit bonded together... 
Morals, ideals, awareness, progress...

In other words, corporate advertising sucks. When I see an advertisement I make a note NOT to buy that product. So the idea that someone would advertise through my blog isn't just ironic. It's offensive. Maybe D. Boon and Mike Watt would feel the same. But they lived in an easier world. At least the ads back then were made by humans for humans. A world in which robots pitch products to other robots is fucking insane. 

I spend time deleting these ads. It's an unproductive hassle. So I'm out. From now on comments will require registration. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience. 

P.S. If you're a tech-person and can think of another way, please let me know.


Anonymous said...

"It's a chain of various keywords and links designed to sell something or other, I have no idea what."

Wild guess: the "designer" tat (whether genuine or fake) to which the links claim to point.

It seems to me that something's seriously wrong with the way "B" has been set up. It's so blazingly obvious that the spam you show is spam that even the simplest of filters should have eliminated it automatically, without any need to prompt you. (As configured by default,, for example, would reject this as spam.)

The problems tend to come with idiotic comments that don't come with a payload of links. They seem entirely vapid, yet simple algorithms can't separate them from the at least slightly meaningful comments by Sergie and your other devoted followers (e.g. me). And they're somehow creepy -- just why is such-and-such an unfamiliar name praising your blog in such a bland way (and with what appears to be a random half-sentence tagged onto the end)?

No surprise: they do have a nefarious purpose. See "Spam comment of the month" at "Language Log", and the well informed comments that it brings.

Blake Andrews said...

I'm not sure which spam isn't making it through blogspot's filters, or why the rate seems to have increased. And I'm not tech-savy enough to set up my own filter or manipulate the platform with any real dexterity.

I actually like some of the more random word chains. They can sometimes border on poetry. I save the good ones. But that still leaves hundreds to delete. It's no fun.

My main question is, does anyone actually click these links? And if so, who? Because that seems the only way they can fester. That's the grand old spam question I guess.

Anonymous said...

Whether or not you've intentionally fiddled with Blogspot's filters, they clearly aren't helping you now. Isn't there an option to reset them to the original or recommended settings?

I imagine that either or both of the following is true. Less likely: a great enough number of very silly people click on these links to make the (minimal) effort to sow these links here and there worthwhile for the spammers. More likely: nobody is expected to be stupid enough to click on the links, but at least some bloggers like you are expected to lack the time and effort to zap all of the messages, and the spammers hope that Google, Bing and so on will be impressed by the number of surviving links. (If Blake Andrews's blog, no less, has links to, then the latter must be good, amirite?)

As for the question of why come-ons look as if only the terminally stupid would fall for them, the much-cited investigation is "Why do Nigerian scammers say they are from Nigeria?" . I must confess that my maths is too rusty to allow me to follow the argument, so I jumped to page 11.

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

This is SEO spam. It isn't trying to sell you anything it is a blackhat method of pushing up your Google rankings.

i.e. you want to sell "Burberry Hats", Google will rank your page not just on its content but incoming links. The more incoming links that have the term "Burberry Hats" in the higher you rise.
People try to game the system by writing spam bots that posts seemingly normal comments with a link to the site in question from "Burberry Hats".
Comment links are not highly prized by Google but hit a few hundred thousand sites and the rankings starts to rise ...

The classic example of this is if you search "Install Now" on Google. First result is Adobe Flash player... a page that does not have "Install Now" anywhere on it. Instead there is a legacy of millions of old flash sites linking to it using the term "Install Now"....

Chansmna said...

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