Spam

Keith Thompson wrote to the weblog a few days ago to say this:

I was just doing a little ego-surfing, and I ran across your weblog entry here [reporting the contemporary variant on Pastor Niemöller’s remarks, that “When they come for the Muslims, I will speak up, even though I am not a Muslim / When they come for the spammers, I will speak up and say: ‘Hey, you missed that one over there!'”]. FYI, FWIW, this was one of mine. It was part of a discussion triggered by a drive-by spam / troll in rec.arts.sf.fandom. (It got me three rasff awards — I can explain if you’re curious.) The article is here. (I’m not demanding credit or anything like that, and I don’t mind being quoted; I’m just letting you know where it came from.)

Well, credit where it is due, and thanks, Keith, for being in touch. Now, during the long dark, silent night of the weblog, there has, amidst the usual dross, been a small amount of rather good spam coming my way.Eric Chevrier, for example, was positively bilingual as he solicited my custom:

As a personnal fitness trainer recognized by the American Weightlifting Association with “Best Technique” and champion in North America , I am providing a personnilized training service that will enable you to reach your goals in fitness and physical performance. En tant qu’entraineur reconnu “Meilleure Technique” par l’American Weightlifting Association et champion de l’Amérique du Nord en haltérophilie, je vous offre un service d’encadrement personnalisé vous permettant d’atteindre vos buts de santé et de performance physique.

Hélas! I think I am on the wrong continent to benefit from his personnilized training service. No matter, for meanwhile, our friends in West Africa are getting bolder, and are now impersonating members of the Congolese elite as well as those of Sierra Leone and Nigeria, in their ongoing attempts to extract money from that medium-sized segment of the population which combines high levels of both credulousness and greed:

DEAR SIR, I do recognize the surprise this urgent and highly confidential letter bring to you more especially as it comes from a stranger. I am MR BANZAL KABILA from the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO,the special adviser to the President Laurent Kabila…

But my favourite recent piece of spammail began in unbeatable fashion:

Dear Sirs: We know your esteemed company in beach towels from Internet, and pleased to introduce us as a leading producer of high quality 100% cotton velour printed towels in China, we sincerely hope to establish a long-term business relationship with your esteemed company in this field…

Did anyone else get this one? It baffles and delights.

Nick wrote [12.5.2002]: Nice to see the weblog back; I was worried you were working too hard! Check out www.thespamletters.com – especially recommended is “My Buddy Kutty”. This is the work of a loon who painstakingly replies to spammers, even the most inappropriate and/or inept.

Richard wrote [12.5.2002]: Regarding spammers, can I recommend the wonderful www.spamcop.net. Use it, and stop spammers. Even better, give money to spamcop, they do great work. Basically it’s an automatic complaint form that’s sent to the spammers’ internet service provider. Since ISPs usually don’t like spammers they kick them off the service (if there are enough complaints). But spammers are usually cunning enough to hide (“obsfucate”) the ISP they use – spamcop deciphers it and send the complaint to the right ISP.

Nick wrote [13.5.2002]: I have to agree with Richard: I’m using the Spamcop mail-sanitising service myself — it’s cheap, dead good, and I warmly recommend it.

If you don’t want to go that far, and you’re using an email client it supports, there’s a neat plug-in you can get instead called Spam Deputy, which enables one-click spam tracking and reporting via Spamcop. Click the miscreant missive in your inbox, click the Spam Deputy button, and automated complaints are sent to everyone who helped the spam get to you.

While I’m in this helpful mood, I’ll mention that it’s likely to be worth flushing your machine out with Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware from time to time, just to remove any miscellaneous commercial rubbish that’s gunging it up in an underhanded way. And the Zone Alarm firewall seems to work very well indeed. These last two are completely free.

Richard wrote [13.5.2002]: Two others I’d suggest: Cookie Crusher allows you to control the cookies being placed on your computer; and Pop-Up Stopper, which halts those annoying “pop up” ads that you get pestered with these days (even the Guardian and NY Times, grrr). Also free. Don’t leave home-page without them.

Tom wrote [15.5.2002]: And on the subject of avoiding irritating ads and things, I’m going to bang on about OmniWeb being an immensely fine browser, not least because it has some simple heuristics to allow you to avoid downloading all of those big flashing banner ads. It doesn’t stop popups yet, but they frequently come as just little empty windows, which is somehow less irritating. Must go – a pint of Dublin’s finest apparently awaits me at Father Flanagan’s.

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