Annals of spam

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This morning I got e-mail from someone (whose name I didn't recognize) telling me that my site (Arnold Zwicky's Blog) was included in a list of recommended linguablogs and providing a link to the location of the list. The correspondent described this location as their site, but in fact it's a commercial site, and the correspondent's name seems to be nowhere on it. (Nor could I find any information on the web about who the correspondent was.)

I hypothesized that this was a type of spam I hadn't seen before, designed to attract people to the commercial site, so I'm concealing as much about this list as possible, but mischief has already been done: at least one linguablogger, pleased at having their blog listed, passed the link on, and some readers of that blog have followed it up. In addition, links have appeared on other sites that are not specifically concerned with language; these might well have been seeded by people from the commercial site. In any case, there's now an opportunity for rapid spread, and I don't see what can be done to stop it.

The scheme is pretty clever, since the list has descriptions for each of the linguablogs on it and so looks genuinely useful. Either these were prepared by someone from the commercial site, which would have taken some real work, or the list was lifted from another source (not familiar to me).

For obvious reasons, I'm not opening this posting to comments.

[Addendum: Mark Paris reports a similar scheme involving a list of recommended blogs in another scientific field, complete with capsule descriptions of the blogs. Apparently the technique is becoming popular.]

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