The Blogosphere and Spam

spam: irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.

Since installing a spam filter in October 2010, 3,769 of the devils have been caught before I ever see them. Some get through as comments to be held in a spam queue for me to approve or delete. A very few have been mis-identified as spam, but the rest most definitely are. I’ve not been able to determine what it is about these obvious intruders that the filter doesn’t recognize, but interestingly enough, they are almost always written in languages I cannot identify.

The hosting service for this site includes an email account that’s probably received fewer than 20 messages in 10 months. Most recently, I’ve received offers of services to help me attract more “customers,” which appear bogus even to one as naive as I in this world of the blogosphere.

This morning I had three emails in the account (go figure), one on the subject of customer improvement and two others, the first of which I thought might be legitimate. Someone with a real name, not the garbage online IDs so often associated with spam, wanted to know where I got one of my “sunset headers” and requested permission to use it. The answer, had I chosen to provide one, is that all the images are available online as stock photographs, which can be cropped to fit the header bar in what my theme calls “featured images.”

Before I answered the email, however, I read the next one. The subject line used the sender’s name in the previous email and said, “——- wants to chat.” Lo and behold, there’s a solicitation from the Google Team for Gmail and Google Talk. It listed all this wonderful stuff I can do by just clicking here yada yada yada. No thanks.

My friend and fellow writer Deanna Roy has a number of websites, one in particular that draws an audience of those affected by the tragedy of pregnancy loss. The level of traffic on this site unfortunately makes it a tempting target, and on one or more occasions, an attack of giant proportions overloaded the site and shut it down.

There’s an aspect of this that I’ll never understand. It’s one thing to use trickery to draw traffic from someone else’s site to yours in the hope that these visitors might buy something, or even to install keystroke-capture functions to steal account numbers and passwords for criminal purposes. But the purely destructive motivation of those who wish to damage the hard work of others escapes me.

So here’s the call to arms: we need a benevolent computer wizard out there to develop a program for all the good guys and gals on the Internet. Some jerk sends you this kind of garbage, you hit REPLY and it sends out the figurative equivalent of a flash-bang grenade into the offending hacker’s hard drive and leaves it a smoking ruin. How fun would that be?

And while we’re on the topic of dealing with fools, how about someone developing a defense for motorists against the idiots who think everyone around them should listen to the rubbish they call music. Point it, pull the trigger, and the woofers jammed into the trunk melt into slag.

Now that would be more than fun.



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