Digital graffiti

We try to ignore spam, the unsolicited email and comments on our blogs designed to sell everything from male enhancement to website development. Judging from the text, much of it comes from people who grapple with English as well as ethics. Their pitches would be funny if we didn’t have to waste so much time weeding the mailbox or disinfecting our blogs. But like physical graffiti, some of the defacement is fascinating. Like admiring a tattoo without committing to one.

Take the reaction from a post I did on The Builder Buzz, a new feed about innovation in the building trades. The post is called “ABC Green Home debuts at Pacific builders’ show.” The comment goes like this (as Dave Barry says, I am not making this up):

“Thank you for picking the correct go over this excellent, I am fervently about that not to mention real love reading through a little more about this kind of article. As long as promising, as you may generate specialist knowledge, wouldn’t you reactions posting an individual’s web page with a lot more particulars? This is very useful for i am”

WordPress flagged the author as “autoblogging” at zoomshare.com, a website hosting and traffic optimization service, so we can assume this is a bot. The host is listed as Los Angeles-based Ubiquity Server Solutions, which apparently facilitates bulk email blasts.

Makes you long for the good old days of Nigerian bank scams. At least those messages have a plot.

My personal blog seems to attract the greatest amount of spam. Most of it is promotional and contains links to websites that offers products or services (and I’m being kind here). You can tell from the URL but you can’t always suss that out from the comment itself. Case in point: this pitch for a free iPad and iPhone:

“Hello! I realize this is kind of off-topic however I needed to ask. Does building a well-established blog like yours take a massive amount work? I’m completely new to operating a blog but I do write in my journal daily. I’d like to start a blog so I can share my experience and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any recommendations or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. App”reciate it!”

The text sounds legitimate until you look at the clues: a suspect URL or email address, poor grammar and punctuation and the favorite phrase of the digital parasite, “This is kind of off topic.”

More like questionable ethics on the part of the business that hired this person.

That random comment follows an earlier blast from a spammer linking to the same URL but using a different email address at Yahoo! That one starts “My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.”

Almost? If you’re going to flatter, you might as well go all the way.

Then there’s the other black hole of time and money, the email inbox. Back when I was using a permission-based mail system it calculated that over five years 98% of all messages received were spam. The server software where I work must use a smarter algorithm because we get very little spam but the personal mailboxes reek of the stuff. Just today I received notice about horoscopes (“Click here now for Your Free Prediction, Free Tarot Reading, and Free Biorhythm”), diets (“Safely lose 20-30 pounds in 30 days!”) and dating (“Love is there. We can help you find it.”)

I predict the only thing we want to find is the off button.

Back to blogs. Here’s one more example of digital pollution to close the show, from an erstwhile marketer trying to sell laptop cases:

“Throughout the great scheme of things you actually secure a B+ with regard to effort. Where you actually confused us ended up being in your particulars. You know, people say, the devil is in the details.”

No, the devil is on the Internet.