As I alluded to previously, I seem to be getting “intelligent spam” on my blog: comments that pass the re-captcha test and seem on-topic, yet upon further inspection clearly constitute link spam: either the author URI or a link in the comment body is spam.
Here is one of the most clear cases, received on January 9 as a comment to my post on the CFTC’s call for proposals to regulate prediction markets:
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 2009 01:28:01 -0800
New comment on your post #71 “A historic MayDay: The US
government’s call for help on regulating prediction markets”
Author : Matt.Herdy
Thanks for that post. Iâ€™ll put a note in the post.
1. Itâ€™s nothing new. The CFTC will just formalize the current
2. We are prisoner of the CFTC regulations and the US Congressâ€™
distaste of sports â€œgamblingâ€. As for the profitability of prediction
exchanges in that strict environment, I donâ€™t see how you can deny that
HedgeStreet went bankrupt even though it was well funded. Isnâ€™t that a
3. Youâ€™re right, but all â€œpragmatistsâ€ should follow a business
plan and make profits. See point #2. Pragmatists wonâ€™t make miracles.
<a href=”http://www.stretch-marks-help.com/”>Removing stretch marks</a>
At first blush, the comments seems to come from a knowledgeable person: they refer to HedgeStreet, an extremely relevant yet mostly unknown company that’s not mentioned anywhere else in the post or other comments.
It turns out the comments seem intelligent because they are. In fact, they’re copied word for word from Chris Masse’s comments on his own blog.
Chris Masse’s page has a link to my page, so it could have been discovered with a “link:” query to a search engine.
Though now I understand what this spammer did, I remain puzzled exactly how they did it and especially why.
- Are these comments being inserted by people, perhaps hired on Mechanical Turk or other underground equivalent? Or are they coming from robots who have either broken re-captcha or the security of my blog? (John suspects a security breach.)
- Is it really worth it economically? All links in blog comments are NOFOLLOW links anyway, and disregarded by search engines for ranking purposes, so what is the point? Are they looking for actual humans to click these links?
In any case, it seems an intriguing development in the spam arms race. Are other bloggers getting “intelligent spam”? Does anyone know how it’s done and why?
Update 2010/07: Oh, the irony. I got a number of intelligent seeming comments on this post about SEO, nofollow, economics of spam, etc. that were… promoting spammy links. I left them for humor value though disabled the links.