When I was younger Spam meant to me a disgusting processed meat product that came out of a tin and would occasionally, much to my disgust. find it’s way into our sandwiches. (Spam was clearly disgusting and a world apart from corned beef, which was a delicious processed meat product that come out of a tin and was best enjoyed with cheese in a toasted sandwich) Spam! It not only sounded like someone just threw it up but it was also very close to the commonly used, if wholly politically incorrect, insult kids would throw at each other on the playground (Spaz).
So spam never had great connotations and maybe that’s why the name applied to junk mail you used to get through your post but now more commonly and in greater quantities get through the inbox or in your blog comments.
When I first started blogging I didn’t get much spam and I would carefully sift through the comments WordPress decided were better off in Spam hoping to find some dedicated followers that inadvertently got rejected by the electronic bouncers of the blog platform entrance. Maybe I’d find some gems hidden in the junk.
I’m partly proud of the fact I now get more spam because I assume it means that my blog is featuring a bit more prominently on search engines or my readership now makes spammers think there may be some merit in targeting my blog or whatever. (If the actual reason is simply about getting their website links on as many sites as possible and has nothing to do with my slightly increasing blog popularity then please don’t ruin the illusion for me!)
Spam for me seems to fall into four categories: obvious junk, delusional confidence-boosters, soliciting advice and downright insulting.
This is the easiest to deal with, it’s the spam that doesn’t really pretend to be anything other than what it is, pushing you to buy miracle cures from dodgy websites, etc. It might include long comments about weight loss miracles or a generic ‘site is good’ with a not overly well hidden link to a website selling dodgy weight loss miracle pills.
These are the spam comments that are more craftily put together hoping you’ll accept the comment and publish the links hidden behind some ego stoking sentences about how marvelous your website is and how your blog definitely deserves global recognition. These, you might find yourself nodding along in agreement ‘why, yes, my blog is marvelous, how kind of you to notice’ before you realize that something is a little off.
It might be the link to the website selling the weight loss miracle pills or it might be the fact the comment is telling you how useful our advice was and how it’s saved their marriage and you realize the comment is attached to a post about your cat being chased by a dog and try as you might you can’t find any subconscious, reading-between-the-lines, advice you have inadvertently given anywhere that might help repair someone’s marriage.
The cleverer spam posts are ones that ask a plausible looking question to try to get you to respond, they might ask for your help with something or raise a technical question about the website. This taps into the psychology that if you want to get someone on side ask them a favour, this appeals to a person’s ego by acknowledging their expertise in something.
Whilst I find the uncovering of these ‘potential fan’ comments as ‘spam’ invariably disappointing, I can’t help but admire the tactics that have gone into these and I almost want to accept the comments in recognition of their attempts at clever game play.
The final category of spam is undoubtedly the most insidious and most likely to work (on me anyway). It’s put together well, it includes references in the comment to the actual post and on first glance appears genuine. What really hooks you into these kind of posts, though, are the insults. Again, it’s clever psychology of combining compliments with comedowns to shake the insecurity of the author and elicit a desire to engage.
Here’s an example:
Everything published made a great deal of sense.
But, consider this, what if you composed a catchier plst title?
I am not saying your content isn’t solid, however suppose you added something that grabbed a person’s attention? I mean L’escalade part 2 | Fear of the reaper is
a little boring. You could glance at Yahoo’s front page and note how they creae post headlines to get viewers to click.
You might add a video or a pic or two to grab people interested about everything’ve written. In my
opinion, it would bring your posts a little bit more interesting.
It starts off well, first sentence is a solid ego boost (everything made sense) and then it comes with a confidence wobble (suggesting room for improvement), followed by a quick blow to the head (your title is boring), what looks like a hand being offered to pick you up (maybe look at Yahoo or try this) followed by a knockout punch (your post is currently boring).
I’m going to be honest this spam really bothers me. And even though I know it’s spam and not actually targeting me personally, most notably because I already have pictures and things on my website so the advice doesn’t match my content, nonetheless I can’t help but feel offended to be told my blog is boring and it puts me in defensive mode. I want to approve it so I can comment and point out the error of the spammers ways, but I know this would just be playing into their hands and giving their weblinks (yup those miracle weight loss pills again!) the prominence they are seeking.
Of course I’m secretly hoping this post will invite some dedicated spam comments telling me how great/boring I am and how this information is exactly the information they were looking for on this subject (albeit without enough pictures). I shall wrangle my hands in glee at the irony and do my level best not to engage with the spam further than that.