Friday, July 16, 2010

Modern spam: I'm not even mad, Baxter. I'm honestly just impressed.

former comment on my post Desert Bus - Penn & Teller, Video Games, and Charity:

viagra online said...
great idea combine video games, magic and charity, in this way is so easy show to rest of people how video games can help and not for destruction or violence.
July 14, 2010 3:37 PM
("viagra online" originally linked to a page on

I'm actually still not sure whether that was auto-generated or whether a human wrote that post. It seems at first that they actually have people looking at blog posts (at least cursorily) and writing comments relevant enough that before deleting them they require a discussion at the level of "Man, what even is spam?"

But my second thought was that hey, I have the terms "video games" and "charity" in my post, right in the title. So they could certainly have a general comment written for the topic of video game charities, then they search for relevant posts.

But then, how does "magic" get in there? I know they can easily relate the term "Penn & Teller" to "magic"; that's not the point. It's about why they insert "magic" into the comment. Is there a special variable in the "video games, [x] and charity" string? Would that even work enough to be practical? Almost seems more likely an actual human read the title of the post and made that comment.

The evolution of spam can get unexpectedly fascinating. It's almost biological in how it mutates in the face of evolutionary pressure from spam filters. It's gone to  the extreme of irrelevance where you get an email that just talks about measuring the drapes on Thursday in order to not appear to your filter as spam, but its status as advertising is questionable. And now I see it's gone to an extreme of relevance where it blurs the lines between undesired spam and desired contribution.

Monday, July 12, 2010

IE 6

Wouldn't that explain a lot?

(some context: DIE IE6 DIE, Bring Down IE6)