Monday, September 27, 2010

Invasion of the Spambots

This is not the title of a new story.

Recently many of the comments I've received for blog posts have been spam. That's not entirely new, but their numbers are increasing, and they're getting smarter.

I remember the day when spam was easy to spot because it didn't pretend to be anything other than what it was. The message would pop up offering WAYS TO MAKE THOUSANDS FROM HOME, or NAKED PICTURES OF BRITNEY SPEARS, or REGROW HAIR, RESTORE POTENCY AND LOST FAT, ALL WITH ONE HERBAL SECRET. Then these wonderful benefactors of mankind would add a link so you could go directly to their product and/or service.

In the very early days it was human beings on the other end of the spam, but they swiftly discovered how to make spam-bots. These programs would troll the internet seeking new life and new potential markets, then they would drop their messages on unsuspecting websites and forums.

Now the spam is getting smarter. Instead of promising LONELY UKRAINIAN BRIDES up front they show up with comments like: "I really liked your last post, the insights were very helpful" or "This is a great site! I've loved this subject for years and was glad to find a community that shares my interests." Some even offer halfway coherent computer generated comments on the last post. Often the only way I can tell it's spam is the clickable link in the signature file that routes me to WALTER BRENNAN, PICTURES OF THE ACTOR NAKED.

I suspect it's only a matter of time before they become as charming and insightful as human beings. What happens then? Will there be blogs where the only commenters will be smart spambots? Will bloggers form close friendships and even on-line romances with charming programs that only want to use them to sell HOUSEWIFE'S AMAZING TECHNIQUE TO WHITEN TEETH.

Hmm... Maybe this should be a story.

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