The spammers are getting smarter, and in a very interesting (and possibly scary) way.
Consider the comment I just received on an three-month old post:
Very good post, thanks a lot.
Posted by dido on Jan 4th, 2010 at 8:18 am.
What's so bad about that? Is it even spam? I suspect so, and here's why:
- It's an old post.
- It's not actually a comment on the original post, but a reply to another comment.
- The text could apply to anything.
- It contains a link to a suspicious URL. (When you submit a comment on this site, you have the option of providing the URL for your homepage. When the comment is submitted, your name becomes a link to that URL. In the comment above, the name 'dido' is actually a link to www . india . com.)
None of these are conclusive, of course. But when I put them all together, I end up reluctantly convinced that it's spam designed to make www . india . com look more popular than it actually is.
But look it! It's spam that actually adds value to my site... sort of. False value, and value for me only, but value nonetheless. In particular, this sort of spam makes it looks like my site is more active than it actually is. Instead of parasitically exploiting my site/server/readers/etc. for its own purposes, this spam offers a deal. "Hey," it says. "Let me use your site to pump up my Google ranking and I'll give your site the appearance of activity. Deal?"
This is disconcerting. Things used to be clear-cut: spam is a bother and a nuisance and something to be completely eliminated. But what happens if spam morphs into something attractive, something that actually benefits me (albeit in a fraudulent way)? What happens, that is, when spam becomes I want?