“an even better blog”

Checking my blog comments, I found this in the spam file:

Quotation: I couldn’t have asked for an even better blog. You’re available to supply excellent advice, going directly to the point for simple understanding of your subscribers...

It clearly is spam, but I wondered how many people had received something similar and let it be published.

So I googled the phrase “I couldn’t have asked for an even better blog” and wasn’t really surprised when the search returned over a million hits.

I was fascinated how ‘variations on a theme’ were being automatically produced, and decided to look more closely at the next part of the comment. I chose two pages of the search results at random and divided the phrase into combinable segments, which gave me this:

spam comments variations tabular presentation

The enlarged version of that image shows nine combinable segments and the alternative texts that are being used. If my maths serves me right, these few options would result in around 75,000 possible phrases.

I have no doubt there are other alternatives being used that didn’t crop up on my two sample pages: ‘useful’ would be an acceptable alternative for ‘excellent’, while ‘visitors’ or ‘users’ would work well instead of ‘readers’ or ‘subscribers’…

Obviously, some of the phrases sound more natural to a native English speaker than others. But with so many non-natives on the web, and so many people writing in a hurry, it’s never surprising to see non-standard usage, and incorrect grammar doesn’t automatically imply that that the message is spam.

Nor does correct grammar and original phrasing guarantee that the message is genuine, of course.

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2 Responses to “an even better blog”

  1. The Root Of All Evil says:

    Interestingly. When reading up on the colour survey from xkcd, you can clearly see this spam at work

    clavis panax says:
    April 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Your website is very useful
    dr mustafa eraslan says:
    April 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks for the blog loaded with so many information.

    But for the starting blogger, it must be such a buzz to find out that someone REALLY appreciates you.

    • “Your website/blog/article is very interesting/useful/informative”

      Sometimes it’s tempting to believe the spam as it seems so genuinely appreciative, and, as dr eraslan says, it’s “such a buzz” to feel appreciated!

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