Today’s post is vaguely wine-related but is relevant for whoever uses the internet for posting and publishing. We’ve got used to e-mail spam and some pretty good anti-spam systems exist, that make dealing with spam less of a pain than it used to be. (Provided you remember to check your spam folder).
Spam, however, is becoming an increasing issue on websites. This modest blog, powered by WordPress, receives an average of 20 user comments per month. Last month, there have also been no fewer than 480 spam comments. That’s really annoying, though the Akismet system does a good job of filtering them out. (Interestingly my Polish blog, also hosted on WordPress.com, which sees 3 times the traffic of my English-language blog, only receives 20% of the spam).
Until recently spam on this blog was a repetitive series of Viagra, fake passports and “work from home and make $4,876 a month”. Recently, however, they have become more sophisticated. Some are random mixed quotations from some kind of novels, often including typos that likely are aimed at making them look more authentic; one automaton (the spambot) is trying to cheat another (the spam filter). It doesn’t really work. But spam robots are getting smarter. They now post comments on this blog that are wine-related, and actually make surprising sense. See these three examples:
I have good memories of Barral from my stay in Montpellier. I remember having a 1994 that had aged just great.
This was posted under my post about Mas Jullien from early 2009. It makes perfect sense to compare Mas Jullien to the wines of Léon Barral, another great Languedoc winemaker whose wines have a long track record for ageing well. And my original post was actually about ageing Languedoc wines.
thanks! True, it can’t be a real Barbaresco if it from near Boca, but stylistically it feels like a Barbaresco. It cletainry doesn’t taste on the Barolo end of Nebbiolo spectrum. Apart from the smell of roses!
Barolo does smell of roses, and Boca is another Nebbiolo-based from Piedmont that actually makes an interesting comparison to Barbaresco. This comment is somewhat vaguely connected to the topic, but otherwise makes perfect sense. If it weren’t for the typo and the user’s details, a certain Kazik identified with an absurd e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and a non-existent Facebook profile, you’d be hard-pressed to identify this as spam.
thanks for the shout out, Ace, and the kind words undeserved in my case. I ceintraly wouldn’t ever consider myself an “expert” per se. I’m just a lover. And as far as the English-language title goes, I’d have to point to Belfrage as the greatest living authority… I do think it’s important to make a distinction between expert and authority, for the one term denotes an encyclopedia knowledge of the subject, while the other denotes the ability to apply such knowledge… I’m honored that you thought of me, but ubi major, minor cessat…
‘Viviane’ makes another random typo in exactly the same word (‘certainly’), but otherwise she’s showing good knowledge of Italian wine by citing Nicholas Belfrage as one of the leading authors in the subject, and actually using a perfectly sensible Latin quotations… Dare I say this comment is smarter than many authentic ones.
But why exactly was it posted? This Facebook profile doesn’t sell Viagra or fake passports. So I think the only goal of generating such comments is disruption. It just makes the blogger’s life difficult (I still need to check the spam comment folder for that 1% of false positives that might turn out to be relevant comments by real users), and injects a bit of evil into the internet community. Why do people do it?