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Contextual Spam

May 11th, 2006

I notice that the blog comment spammers are trying a new trick: contextual comment spamming. It’s still automated, but it’s smarter. Instead of just sending a few dozen obvious spam comments, the spammers try to trick you by making their spam appear to be an actual message. The first one I got related a news story about an artistic photo shoot in Spain, and the second talked about how to deal with Hamas. Except for the placement of three or four spam links, they would appear to be valid comments. So far, the spam comes one at a time–smart, otherwise it would look suspicious.

Of course, there are problems related to automating the spam: the topic of the comments, so far, is not exactly in line with the topic of the blog posts. The photo shoot news story comment spam was posted to a blog entry about blogging (though there was a tangential reference to the press media), and the Hamas comment spam was posted to an entry about Air America Radio. Who knows, maybe they do have software to try to match topics and it’s just not doing a very good job. But I imagine that sometime soon, they’ll have enough fake comments on all kinds of topics, and smart enough spam software so that the comment and blog topic will be closely matched.

Not that it’s causing me any problems–I review comments in my email software, and links show up as blue and underlined; the spam links stand out. But if one were to moderate comments using a browser, the links might be less apparent, or the blog author might gloss over them, and the fact that it is spam could be missed. I’m also not sure how the spam filters are doing with these messages; I haven’t checked to see if my filters are blocking out more of these.

In one way, this is a good sign–it means that spam blocking is effective enough that the spammers are having to go to a lot of trouble to try to get their spam through.

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