30 March 2011

These Spam Comments Are Getting Clever

I moderate comments on my blog, for a few reasons. One is that since this blog is my public face as an author, an author who writes a large amount of material aimed at the YA reader, I would like any comments to at least be civil and avoid language that might get the blog “R” rating if it were a movie. I have rarely had to delete any comment for this reason. (I think once, possibly; an absolutely loathsome troll who posted about my review of Changeling, but apparently had never seen the film him/her/itself. Someone else later came and posted a disagreeing comment on the same review, but they were civil so I had no issue putting it up.) I don’t have a ton of commenters as it is, and most of them are politely spoken.

The second reason I moderate—really, the main reason—is to prevent spam comments. Anyone who runs a blog knows about these. A robot searches out your blog, pastes something that sounds like it may have something to with the post in question, but is really only a link to some scammy place selling drugs or free vacations or “adult service.” I used a word verification system for a time that blocked some of this, but I felt it might discourage genuine posters to have to type in twisted words. So I took down the verification system and chose to moderate out the spam instead.

The usual spam comment is utterly non-specific: “I really like this post. It’s good too see posts like this. Check out this blog as well. [Link to Viagra site, or something with three “X”s in its title].”

However, I have to give credit to this recent robot comment, which went the extra distance to almost, almost sound like it was legitimate. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, and spacing retained:
I don't suppose it's "OK" for comic books and stories to stereotype characters. It feeds the reader a too simplistic upon of reality. (The Good and the Bad, you identify.) And actually, Dinotopia does NOT stereotype at all. Teeth of the fact that Dinotopia portrays a utopian changri-la, there's a suspense between the pacifist community and the predators. One that is a small-minded confusing, even risky. Dinotopia treats T-Rexes and the likes with a unspecified respect.I find best cialis offers. [Link on “cialis”].
This was sent to my post about the comic book Devil Dinosaur (which I said I would review and have so far failed to). When I first got the post—about ten days after it was sent, because the email that forward my blog notifications identified the username as a common spammer one—it looked nearly appeared legitimate. I hadn’t read my own post in a year, so I did not recall exactly what I wrote in it.

The spambot did some clever key-word searching: it locked onto “comic book” and “dinosaur,” and sent this missive, all in the name of selling Cialis (which is supposed to be capitalized, dingbat). It looks like a response to points raised in the post.

Except . . . I never mentioned James Gurney’s Dinotopia series of books in that post. The post had nothing at all do to with Dinotopia. I never mentioned stereotypes of any kind, nor “The Good and the Bad” that the post seems to refer to. The comment has nothing to do with my post at all, and in fact makes no sense in itself either. Except to sell drugs. And I found the same spambot post on James Gurney’s person site. Interesting.

However, this is a clever spambot. It can’t fit together decent grammar, but it superficial implies that a human was reading the post.

Still, down the spam tubes it goes. And now I really must get back to Devil Dinosaur.