This is an amazing time in the technological world.  For the first time in presidential elections, the internet allows you to fact-check almost as soon as the words are out of the candidate’s mouth.  No more can politicians say something really dumb and then try and deny it was ever said (since the mp3, YouTube clip, and numerous Twitters have spread it across the web).  Public records are not only available to the public, they are finally accessible!

And, like with everything else that hits a massive surge, we have moronic advertisers who try and cash in on it.  That in itself isn’t so bad (hey, it’s capitalism!).  What’s bad is the fact that they try and do it with automated scripts.

Just a few years ago, the public was all in a tizzy because of browser cookies; little files that save on your computer that track where you’ve been.  The fear was that if sites know where you have been, you’ll have no privacy.  This was by design, as cookies help your browser remember your passwords, form data, and personal settings.  However it also meant that anyone with advertising related cookies could also track what you were looking at the post and target you for specific email and banner based advertising.  If you went to a lot of gaming sites, you’d start to get gaming e-mails.  If you went to a lot of porn sites, well, you know.

In the end, people gave up on the fight against cookies when they realized how much easier they made web browsing.  Fast forward to today, and we have Twitter.

Twitter is a service that allows people to sort of just shout out into the internet whatever happens to be on their mind at the time.  You can follow just a few select people, or you can view the entire worldwide queue as it updates (sort of like the “Party Line” of the 80’s, where everyone is all talking into a phone at once).  It’s a fun little service that can be relatively harmless, so long as you don’t start broadcasting really personal info.  However, somewhere, some marketing exec had the idea that they could get free market research by simply filtering through the Twitter queue and looking for specific keywords.

Makes sense, in theory: You want to know what people are saying about the new Toyota Prius, so you search for the word Prius.  That in by itself is actually really smart; you’re not bugging me with a survey, and you’re likely to get more accurate information!

Then someone in advertising got ahold of the idea and gave it to their evil half-brother in the spam industry.  Suddenly you have these scripts scouring EVERYTHING on the web and linking your Twitters, blogs, MySpace, Facebook, forum posts to whatever crap they are trying to sell.

Anyone who can read knows that these links are automatically generated and have nothing to do with the subject matter at hand.  Schmidty gave me a perfect example when he looked up his own daughter’s name.  Not a single one of those “reviews” has anything to do with the actual product!  Stolen Droids’ own spam queue is perpetually filled with horribly coded comments from bots who try and pass themselves off as interested readers (if I approve the comment, they link back to their host site to provide potential traffic).

Some of these are pretty well worded:

“Hey, I found your post when I searched for {whatever}.  I’ll look around the rest of your site, but it looks really interesting.”

Those I have to actually follow the link back to what they list as their homepage before determining if they are legit or not.  Others are a little more obvious:

“I loved your post on %subjectname% here on %blogname%!  Can you tell me more?  Come visit my site %authorname% and we can talk about it!”

What, is the web suddenly a Windows environment editor?  

Currently, SD seems to be permanently linked to a site is about “Adult Party Games” simply because of our post about Never Winter Nights.  Simply by having the word “game” in the title, it somehow qualified to be added to their list of “friends”.  

So, in an attempt to hit as many lists as I can think of (in an effort to both annoy spammer scripts and maybe generate hits) I’ll be filling my tags for this post to see what we get!

  • zohner

    I’m love your post about %subjectname%. Come visit %blogname% for we can discuss it more.

    Actually I’ve been having issues with spambots on my personal site. I installed the Sabre plugin to see if that helps to thwart them. We may need something like that here.

  • Alexander


    That’s a lot of tags. The irony… Neverwinter Nights isn’t in that list. Everything else is, but not NWN. :p

  • That post still pulls around 30-50 hits a day, so I’m not really worried about it. 😉

  • Update: 7 Spam comments from all the tags!