By Vladimir Brezina
As surely as a flame attracts moths, a comment box attracts spam—with pretty much the same results. WordPress has an excellent spam filter that kills most spam outright. But occasionally it presents a particularly delectable piece of spam, under quarantine, for our enjoyment.
These spam comments, which the filter has quarantined but not killed outright presumably because it’s not quite sure whether they are spam or not, have a distinctive tone. They are, indeed, like real comments—but from some kind of mad dream.
Here’s a great specimen:
I want to express thanks to this writer for bailing me out of such a scenario. Right after looking through the search engines and obtaining advice which are not pleasant, I was thinking my life was done. Living minus the solutions to the problems you have solved through your main article content is a critical case, as well as ones that might have adversely affected my entire career if I had not come across your website. Your good training and kindness in maneuvering the whole lot was valuable. I am not sure what I would have done if I had not come across such a stuff like this. It’s possible to at this time look ahead to my future. Thanks very much for this reliable and results-oriented guide. I won’t hesitate to endorse your blog post to anyone who should have tips about this topic.
This is clearly spam in its all-purpose vagueness. But beyond that, one does wonder. Was it written by a human using an English As She Is Spoke-like phrasebook? Or by a computer emulating a psychiatric patient? Or a computer simply doing its best to sound human but using machine translation, multiple rounds of which can convert “I regret I have but one life to give for my country” into “Unfortunately, I live in China”? Or perhaps by a Surrealist poet or an online conceptual performance artist?
In any case, strangeness, novelty, and unpredictability are the keys to getting past Bayesian spam filters. And, by being strange enough to provoke these thoughts in me, this piece of spam has made it—albeit disarmed of its payload of dangerous links—all the way to you, the reader of this blog, after all!