The curious case of the generic complimentary comment. I hate SPAM!

I published this on my other blog yesterday. But it is related to programming in a way, so now it’s published here too.


Recently I received this comment to one of my posts:

Hello! I’ve been reading your site for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the great work!

So I thought to myself, “That’s odd“. Reading this new blog for a long time? Sure, the old one redirects here, but judging by the number of page views (on average at the old blog, around 70 per day, but up to a max of about 400, while the most ever here was 15 on one day), most of my old readers haven’t found this one, and my Google indexing is pretty much gone. (Which makes me sad, by the way.) Then I followed the link, and it led to a membership page of a site that contained another link advertising a website for painters. A painters’ website in Toronto, Canada! So I’m getting a shout out from Texas advertising a website in Canada? Those crazy Canaditexans…

So sure enough, a quick search for similar comments elsewhere turned up a blog with this:

Hey there! I’ve been following your blog for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the great job!

And this:

Hello! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!

And this:

Hi! I’ve been reading your website for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic work!

As a general rule, generic compliments in comments don’t come from readers actually reading the content and commenting, they are generated and bulk-submitted SPAM. They usually contain a single link to an ad as the commenter’s “website”. Since it’s only one link and SPAM filters like Akismet normally look for two or more, these are often not detected by SPAM filters, but any human reader/moderator/blogger can spot them. In this case, the comments were built programmatically from a template, by a despicable program (like this one) that posts comments in bulk to blogs. There are many other examples. I’m leaving the comment here for educational purposes, after removing the spammer’s URL and mailto link of course.

Two years ago Scott Hanselman wrote about such a template. This is clearly generated from that template, which the spammers are still using. Here is the relevant bit that generated all of those comments:

{Hola|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Greetings}! I’ve been {following|reading} your {site|web site|website|weblog|blog} for {a long time|a while|some time} now and finally got the {bravery|courage} to go ahead and give you a shout out from {New Caney|Kingwood|Huffman|Porter|Houston|Dallas|Austin|Lubbock|Humble|Atascocita} {Tx|Texas}! Just wanted to {tell you|mention|say} keep up the {fantastic|excellent|great|good} {job|work}!

The bottom line is this: Beware of generic compliments in comments. They are not what they seem. (I shouldn’t even have followed the link. Merely clicking may have generated revenue for somebody, via their affiliate program that pays according to the number of clicks. Also, such links may take you to porn or malware sites.) Fortunately the people who generate this kind of SPAM are idiots; were they not it might not be so easy to detect.

Then again, any generic comment that’s not related in any way whatsoever to your written content should be a huge red flag. A challenge for a good programmer would thus be to generate a comment that somehow relates to the article being commented on. (To be clear, I mean a purely intellectual challenge. Anybody who publishes or uses such a program deserves to be shot in the stomach, doused with petrol, set on fire and thrown off a cliff.) At the very least, it could quote a random paragraph of your content and then proceed to “comment” in a generic way on that content. (This would be fairly easy to do and would look more like a real comment, but might not be detected so easily fool bloggers desperate for comments.) Of course that would require actually reading your site or blog’s content, at least programatically, and would defeat the purpose and likely the profit of bulk SPAM comment publishing. (Assuming that there is a profit. Do people actually follow those SPAM comment links by clicking on the commenter’s name? Are there bloggers so desperate for comments that they appreciate generic compliments?)

Here’s the full SPAM template:

{
{I have|I've} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. {It's|It
is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content as
you did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a lot more}
useful than ever before.|
I {couldn't|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting. {Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
{I will|I'll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch}
your {rss|rss feed} as I {can not|can't} {in finding|find|to find} your {email|e-mail} subscription {link|hyperlink} or {newsletter|e-newsletter} service. Do {you have|you've} any?
{Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know} {so that|in order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe.
Thanks.|
{It is|It's} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make some plans for the future and {it is|it's} time to be happy.
{I have|I've} read this post and if I could I {want to|wish to|desire to} suggest you {few|some} interesting things or {advice|suggestions|tips}. {Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write next articles referring to this article. I {want to|wish to|desire to} read {more|even more} things about it!|
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I {want to|wish to|desire to} {read|learn} {more|even
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me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view},
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{blog|weblog|webpage|website|web site}, I have read all
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|
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{sister|younger sister} is analyzing {such|these|these kinds of} things, {so|thus|therefore} I am going to {tell|inform|let
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{Saved as a favorite|bookmarked!!}, {I really like|I
like|I love} {your blog|your site|your web site|your website}!
|
Way cool! Some {very|extremely} valid points! I
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|
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is a great} {blog|website|web site|site}. I stumbledupon it 😉 {I will|I am going
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Woah! I'm really {loving|enjoying|digging} the template/theme of this {site|website|blog}.
It's simple, yet effective. A lot of times it's {very
hard|very difficult|challenging|tough|difficult|hard} to
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{In addition|Additionally|Also}, the blog loads {very|extremely|super} {fast|quick} for me on {Safari|Internet explorer|Chrome|Opera|Firefox}.
{Superb|Exceptional|Outstanding|Excellent} Blog!
|
These are {really|actually|in fact|truly|genuinely} {great|enormous|impressive|wonderful|fantastic} ideas
in {regarding|concerning|about|on the topic of} blogging.
You have touched some {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious} {points|factors|things}
here. Any way keep up wrinting.|
{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone loves} what you guys
{are|are usually|tend to be} up too. {This sort
of|This type of|Such|This kind of} clever work and {exposure|coverage|reporting}!
 
Keep up the {superb|terrific|very good|great|good|awesome|fantastic|excellent|amazing|wonderful} works guys I've {incorporated||added|included} you guys to {|my|our||my personal|my own} blogroll.|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Hey}! Someone in my {Myspace|Facebook} group shared this {site|website} with us so I came to {give it a look|look it over|take a look|check it out}. I'm definitely {enjoying|loving} the information.
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{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone loves} what you guys {are|are usually|tend to be} up too. {This sort of|This type of|Such|This kind of} clever work and {exposure|coverage|reporting}! Keep up the {superb|terrific|very good|great|good|awesome|fantastic|excellent|amazing|wonderful} works guys I've {incorporated|added|included} you guys to
{|my|our|my personal|my own} blogroll.|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Hey} would you mind {stating|sharing} which blog platform you're {working with|using}? I'm {looking|planning|going} to start my own blog {in the near future|soon} but I'm having a {tough|difficult|hard} time {making a decision|selecting|choosing|deciding} between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your {design and style|design|layout} seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something {completely
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{Howdy|Hi there|Hi|Hey there|Hello|Hey} would you mind letting
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price? {Thanks a lot|Kudos|Cheers|Thank you|Many thanks|Thanks}, I
appreciate it!|
{I love|I really like|I like|Everyone loves} it {when people|when individuals|when folks|whenever people} {come together|get
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it}!|
Thank you for the {auspicious|good} writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
Look advanced to {far|more} added agreeable from you! {By the way|However}, how {can|could} we communicate?
|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hello|Hey} just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
 
The {text|words} in your {content|post|article} seem to be running off
the screen in {Ie|Internet explorer|Chrome|Firefox|Safari|Opera}.
I'm not sure if this is a {format|formatting} issue or something to do with {web browser|internet browser|browser} compatibility but I {thought|figured} I'd
post to let you know. The {style and design|design
and style|layout|design} look great though! Hope you get the {problem|issue} {solved|resolved|fixed} soon.
 
{Kudos|Cheers|Many thanks|Thanks}|
This is a topic {that is|that's|which is} {close to|near to} my heart... {Cheers|Many thanks|Best wishes|Take care|Thank you}! {Where|Exactly where} are your contact details though?|
It's very {easy|simple|trouble-free|straightforward|effortless}
to find out any {topic|matter} on {net|web} as compared to {books|textbooks}, as I found this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} at this {website|web site|site|web
page}.|
Does your {site|website|blog} have a contact page?
I'm having {a tough time|problems|trouble} locating it but, I'd
like to {send|shoot} you an {e-mail|email}. I've got some {creative ideas|recommendations|suggestions|ideas} for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great {site|website|blog} and I look forward to seeing it {develop|improve|expand|grow} over time.|
{Hola|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Greetings}! I've been {following|reading} your {site|web site|website|weblog|blog} for {a long time|a while|some time} now and finally got the {bravery|courage} to go ahead and give you
a shout out from  {New Caney|Kingwood|Huffman|Porter|Houston|Dallas|Austin|Lubbock|Humble|Atascocita} {Tx|Texas}!
Just wanted to {tell you|mention|say} keep up the {fantastic|excellent|great|good}
{job|work}!|
Greetings from {Idaho|Carolina|Ohio|Colorado|Florida|Los angeles|California}!
 
I'm {bored to tears|bored to death|bored} at work so I decided to {check out|browse} your {site|website|blog} on my iphone during lunch break. I {enjoy|really like|love} the {knowledge|info|information} you {present|provide} here and can't wait to
take a look when I get home. I'm {shocked|amazed|surprised} at how {quick|fast} your blog loaded on my {mobile|cell phone|phone} .. I'm not even
using WIFI, just 3G .. {Anyhow|Anyways}, {awesome|amazing|very good|superb|good|wonderful|fantastic|excellent|great} {site|blog}!
|
Its {like you|such as you} {read|learn} my {mind|thoughts}!
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{like you|such as you} wrote the {book|e-book|guide|ebook|e book} in it or something.
{I think|I feel|I believe} {that you|that you simply|that you just} {could|can} do with
{some|a few} {%|p.c.|percent} to {force|pressure|drive|power} the message {house|home} {a bit|a little bit}, {however|but} {other than|instead of} that, {this is|that is} {great|wonderful|fantastic|magnificent|excellent} blog. {A great|An excellent|A fantastic} read. {I'll|I will} {definitely|certainly} be back.|
I visited {multiple|many|several|various} {websites|sites|web sites|web pages|blogs} {but|except|however} the audio {quality|feature} for audio songs {current|present|existing} at this {website|web site|site|web page} is {really|actually|in fact|truly|genuinely} {marvelous|wonderful|excellent|fabulous|superb}.|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hi|Hello}, i read your blog {occasionally|from time to time} and i own a similar one and i was just {wondering|curious} if you get a lot of spam {comments|responses|feedback|remarks}? If so how do you {prevent|reduce|stop|protect against} it, any plugin or anything you can {advise|suggest|recommend}? I get so much lately it's driving me {mad|insane|crazy} so any {assistance|help|support} is very much appreciated.|
Greetings! {Very helpful|Very useful} advice {within this|in this particular} {article|post}! {It is the|It's the} little changes {that make|which will make|that produce|that will make} {the biggest|the largest|the greatest|the most important|the most significant} changes. {Thanks a lot|Thanks|Many thanks} for sharing!|
{I really|I truly|I seriously|I absolutely} love {your blog|your site|your website}.. {Very nice|Excellent|Pleasant|Great} colors & theme. Did you {create|develop|make|build} {this website|this site|this web site|this amazing site} yourself? Please reply back as I'm {looking to|trying to|planning to|wanting to|hoping to|attempting to} create {my own|my very own|my own personal} {blog|website|site} and {would like to|want to|would love to} {know|learn|find out} where you got this from or {what the|exactly what the|just what the} theme {is called|is named}. {Thanks|Many thanks|Thank you|Cheers|Appreciate it|Kudos}!|
{Hi there|Hello there|Howdy}! This {post|article|blog post} {couldn't|could not} be written {any better|much better}! {Reading through|Looking at|Going through|Looking through} this {post|article} reminds me of my previous roommate! He {always|constantly|continually} kept {talking about|preaching about} this. {I will|I'll|I am going to|I most certainly will} {forward|send} {this article|this information|this post} to him. {Pretty sure|Fairly certain} {he will|he'll|he's going to} {have a good|have a very good|have a great} read. {Thank you for|Thanks for|Many thanks for|I appreciate you for} sharing!|
{Wow|Whoa|Incredible|Amazing}! This blog looks {exactly|just} like my old one! It's on a {completely|entirely|totally} different {topic|subject} but it has pretty much the same {layout|page layout} and design. {Excellent|Wonderful|Great|Outstanding|Superb} choice of colors!|
{There is|There's} {definately|certainly} {a lot to|a great deal to} {know about|learn about|find out about} this {subject|topic|issue}. {I like|I love|I really like} {all the|all of the} points {you made|you've made|you have made}.|
{You made|You've made|You have made} some {decent|good|really good} points there. I {looked|checked} {on the internet|on the web|on the net} {for more info|for more information|to find out more|to learn more|for additional information} about the issue and found {most individuals|most people} will go along with your views on {this website|this site|this web site}.|
{Hi|Hello|Hi there|What's up}, I {log on to|check|read} your {new stuff|blogs|blog} {regularly|like every week|daily|on a regular basis}. Your {story-telling|writing|humoristic} style is {awesome|witty}, keep {doing what you're doing|up the good work|it up}!|
I {simply|just} {could not|couldn't} {leave|depart|go away} your {site|web site|website} {prior to|before} suggesting that I {really|extremely|actually} {enjoyed|loved} {the standard|the usual} {information|info} {a person|an individual} {supply|provide} {for your|on your|in your|to your} {visitors|guests}? Is {going to|gonna} be {back|again} {frequently|regularly|incessantly|steadily|ceaselessly|often|continuously} {in order to|to} {check up on|check out|inspect|investigate cross-check} new posts|
{I wanted|I needed|I want to|I need to} to thank you for this {great|excellent|fantastic|wonderful|good|very good} read!! I {definitely|certainly|absolutely} {enjoyed|loved} every {little bit of|bit of} it. {I have|I've got|I have got} you {bookmarked|book marked|book-marked|saved as a favorite} {to check out|to look at} new {stuff you|things you} post�\
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About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
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