Subversion at the spam factory?

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So this is new, at least for me — the latest batch of a few thousand spam comments (adding to the pile of 5,095,703 caught so far) pretends to come from people using negatively-evaluated pseudonyms in Spanish, like caca, ladrones, or indecentes:

Or mierda, corruptos, etc.:

Does this refer to a Hispanic inversion-of-lexical-values subculture, like English sick for "really good"? Or is some underpaid nickname-inventor on the spam-factory assembly line engaging in a little cross-linguistic sabotage? Inquiring minds want to know.

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14 Comments »

  1. Sili said,

    April 28, 2013 @ 8:59 am

    "Help! I'm kept prisoner in a spam factory."

  2. MattF said,

    April 28, 2013 @ 9:26 am

    There's the possibility of spambot warfare– the 'red' team trying to seed the Bayesian filters with negative text that correlates to the 'blue' team. Anything that increases the likelihood of 'getting through', I guess.

  3. Eric P Smith said,

    April 28, 2013 @ 10:39 am

    Why can the designers of English spam factories not employ people who are reasonably conversant with English? "I used to be very pleased to find this wonderful website" carries the strong implicature "But now I am not”; plainly the spammer meant "I was very pleased to find this wonderful website". And "this wonderful learn": maybe there ain't no noun that can't be verbed, but "learn" is a verb that can't be nouned. Who(m) are they trying to fool?

  4. Bruce said,

    April 28, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

    I assume it's to get attention. Any sort of attention, whether good or bad, to attract eyeballs and clicks ..

  5. Andy Averill said,

    April 28, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

    @Eric P Smith, good observation, I suspect that "I used to be very pleased" is a machine translation from the imperfect in whatever was the original language of the spam.

  6. david said,

    April 28, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

    Perhaps it is someone that wants to add insult to injury and hasn't considered that this website will recognize non-english. The best advice remains "Don't feed the trolls".

  7. Sili said,

    April 28, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

    Why can the designers of English spam factories not employ people who are reasonably conversant with English?

    Not that this idea is original to me, but a hypothesis could be that people who're incapable of spotting bad English are more likely to click on spam links and buy the associated products.

    That sounds horribly snobbish of me, now that I've typed it out …

  8. Eric said,

    April 28, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

    I honestly just figured it was a supply/demand issue. Many spammers are not native English speakers, and it wouldn't significantly enough increase their bottom line to justify the investment of hiring an additional employee just to proofread.

  9. Mr Punch said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 8:04 am

    I shouldn't think that spamming is, in general, very remunerative. As good command of written English has some value in the global marketplace, those who possess it may find better-paid work. But that leaves the question of why more unemployed English majors don't turn to spamming.

  10. Zubon said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 8:07 am

    The quality of English in the comments does not matter to the spammer becaues the comments are not meant to be read. The point is to get more links to the site in circulation, and even those links are to subvert algorithms rather than for humans to see and read and click. Better English might reduce the number of comments filtered, but the strategy is generally to go for higher volume and hope to hit soft targets that are not actively paying attention to their comments. As previous LL posts have indicated, the comments are generated by a template or algorithm so that they are not identical, and if 1 million of your 30 billion potential comments are grammatically infelicitous, oh well.

    There are real comments with worse English, so the spammers have a low bar to clear in terms of "possibly real, maybe I should not delete."

  11. Peter Taylor said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

    The only inversion of that nature which I've come across in Spanish is de puta madre. Puto (m) / puta (f) is a somewhat informal term for a prostitute, and used indiscriminantly as an adjective is pejorative (e.g. el puto coche no arranca would be an adequate translation for the fucking car won't start). But de puta madre (which could be glossed as of the whore-mother) is high praise.

  12. Christopher Cieri said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

    @Sili: Your quip reminded me of the Prairie Home Companion, Guy Noir skit (http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs/20000304/guy_noir.html) in which Irish sweatshop workers wove SOS messages into the cable knit sweaters they were making.

  13. H said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 9:21 am

    http://thepenguinblog.typepad.com/the_penguin_blog/2009/10/a-morning-in-the-woods-diary-of-an-editor.html

    Angsty spam!

    "You have never really understood my existence."

    No. Sorry. There, there. It's all right. We do… Er, what is the point of your existence

  14. rpsms said,

    April 30, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

    perhaps these are user names that haven't been taken already (assuming some form of registration enforcement) and are perhaps a subset of the list: they are the ones least chosen by real people.

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