Index of category spam
OPML list of documents in this directory:
- Search engine optimism and "IFOLLOW"
- It's been a couple of years now since the introduction of the nofollow attribute. As I expected, comment and referrer spam remain scourges. It's not clear to me that nofollow has really done anybody any good. However, I've seen a couple of things of interest related to it recently. [2143 words...] (7 February 2008)
- Project Wonderful as an economy
- If you've been following my adventures trying to advertise my Web comic, you'll have heard about my misadventures with Google, and more recently the collapse of my Project Wonderful ad box bids. My thinking is that this may be a structural problem with Project Wonderful - it's set up in such a way that when someone like me starts lowering bids, that causes other people's income to drop and then they lower bids too and the whole thing can spiral out of control, leading to ridiculously low bids and a non-awesome situation all around. One thing that would help would be if the highest bidder paid their actual bid instead of "just enough to beat the second-highest bidder"; that way half as many people (i.e. only the top bidder instead of the top two bidders) would be in a position to affect the amount of income seen by the seller, and so there'd be a lower multiplication factor and more chances to end the chain reaction. [2927 words...] (19 March 2007)
- On Google and honest auctions
- Filing this under "spam" because it's about advertising, though it's not really about spam. Slashdot is reporting on an apparent ruckus having to do with Google running its own ads on AdWords and whether that is or isn't in some way unethical or dishonest. Google issued a Web log posting defending itself, but as usual, most people and especially Slashdot are missing the interesting part of the story. My opinion is that it's okay for Google to bid in its own auction, but that it's not an honest auction in the first place and that's a bigger story. [1385 words...] (8 December 2006)
- Google "hacker" honeypots explained
- Slashdot did it again: they're reporting on an alleged Google-related security issue by linking to a Web site so uninformative, it requires multiple careful readings to figure out just what the Hell they're blathering about; and once figured out, the issue turns out to be much less exciting than it sounds. Bonus points for abusing the word "hackers" to mean not even regular script kiddies, but some pathogenic life-form even more unsophisticated. Here's my take on what the actual issue is. [983 words...] (4 August 2005)
- Google 302 exploit explained
- This article about a search engine vulnerability appeared on Slashdot, but it's so poorly written that I had to read it three times to figure out just what they're worried about. Here's my take on what it actually means. [824 words...] (15 March 2005)
- Thoughts on "nofollow"
- Thoughts on Google's "nofollow" anti-spam REL= attribute. (19 January 2005)
- What's really wrong with attention bonds?
- Slashdot has an article about "attention bonds", which are one incarnation of the old "spammers have to put up money to get you to read their email" anti-spam idea. Various people in the Slashdot discussion have posted clueless objections that are already addressed by the system's FAQ or should have obvious solutions for anyone who thinks about them. For instance, "This is the death of mailing lists!" has the answer: never pay an attention bond on a mailing list message. If someone doesn't whitelist the list when they subscribe, then they're stupid, your filter deletes the demand, and it's their problem. But here are my own thoughts on some problems that are not already solved and cannot be so easily solved. There's some overlap among them, and they aren't really in an order despite being numbered. Just some problems that come to mind on thinking about this system. [1870 words...] (25 July 2004)
- Another thing wrong with attention bonds
- See my previous posting. Here's another problem: malware. Viruses will be written to make your computer post bonds you didn't intend to post, to random people or to the virus author. Either the bond-posting process can be made difficult enough that you'll find it really annoying to use legitimately, or it can be made easy enough that viruses can get you in trouble; most likely both. The proposal that bonds are to be paid from a pre-paid account (so you can't post bonds for more money than you're willing to risk) only limits the potential damage per victim without hurting the scammer who has lots of victims. A thief who can steal $10 each from a hundred thousand people won't shed too many tears about being unable to steal more than $10 per victim. Providing any way to roll back a collected bond that was posted falsely, would defeat the purpose of the bond system. (25 July 2004)
- Spammers say: vote Conservative!
- I have three pro-Conservative spam messages in my box today; those are, of course, just the ones that got through the filter. It's hard to say how many others might have existed on the input side. I've also seen several copies of the same message posted on various Usenet newsgroups. I am sure that the official Conservative campaign had nothing to do with these messages, and I'm aware that they could even have been sent by someone who supported some other party and was trying to smear the Conservatives. I haven't received any spam supporting any other Canadian political group in this election, though. If the Conservative campaign were really smart, this would be a great opportunity for them to score some points by denouncing spam - in some medium other than the Net, of course. (27 June 2004)
- ISP licensing lives again under guise of anti-spam
- Here linked is Bill S-2, a Senate Bill against spam. That's a laudable goal, of course, but some of the exact provisions are worrisome. It establishes an organization that all commercial ISPs are required to belong to, which sounds a lot like licensing of ISPs; the organization is defined to have powers and duties beyond spam-blocking, such as "regulating the ethical behaviour of its members"; it requires all ISPs to install spam filters, and pornography filtering is defined as one possible function of a spam filter; it requires the creation of a national no-spam list, which is a problem because of the next point: it defines as "spam" all unsolicited mail where there isn't a pre-existing relationship, so if someone reads my resume online and writes to offer me a job, then that is spam for legal purposes; and the no-spam list is not to be published, which makes it likely that everyone will have to tell the Government who they are sending messages to in order to do the database lookups (that isn't technically unavoidable, but I wonder about the real implementations). You might want to read my comments on ISP licensing; eventually some commentary on S-2 will end up on that page. [ISP licensing lives again under guise of anti-spam] (6 February 2004)
- Marketing is out of control
- I was just over at the local clearance outlet, looking for cheap miscellaneous stuff, and I noticed that they had a shelf full of high-school science textbooks. I flipped one open to see what the current lies-to-children flavour of the month is, and found a full-page ad for chewing gum, right there in the middle of the textbook. It didn't even have the "advertisement" small print notice that ads have in comic books. Seeing it gave me a small but possibly important insight on the spam wars: we say email spam is out of control, but that's not actually the problem. Marketing of all kinds is out of control. (22 May 2003)
- Anti-spam law slips by me
- Sorry, folks, this one escaped my notice when it went through Parliament, probably because except for the discussion of Senate amendments, the debate in the Commons was back in 2001 before I was reading Hansard regularly. It seems that Bill C-23, on competition and competition tribunals, makes it illegal for companies to send you a notice saying you've won a prize, if you haven't. Penalties on summary conviction up to $200,000 and a year in prison; on indictment, fine at the discretion of the court and up to five years imprisonment. Electronic mail is specifically mentioned in the bill. The link above is to the discussion of the new offence in the legislative summary of Bill C-23. See also Bill C-23 itself and this globetechnology article about it. [Anti-spam law slips by me] (17 July 2002)
- Is spam obscene?
- Well, of course it is. But more specifically, I wonder if someone could prosecute those "herbal viagra" and "increase your penis" spammers under Paragraph 163.(2)(d) of the Criminal Code of Canada, which I happened to notice just now while reviewing one of my earlier postings. It probably wouldn't be a good idea, if nothing else because I don't approve of said Paragraph and would hate to legitimize it by demanding its enforcement... but the wording of 163.(2)(d) sure sounds tempting, because its description of prohibited material lines up pretty well with some of the most obnoxious stuff spammers send me. I wonder if the RCMP know about this. [Is spam obscene?] (17 June 2002)
Copyright © 2008 Matthew Skala
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