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11 spam comments that look like drunk thesauruses
Nothing is certain but death, taxes, and spam comments on your blog
 
Be careful with those thesauruses, spam-bots.
Be careful with those thesauruses, spam-bots. Thinkstock

In general, spam comments are not designed to make you click on a link, but to have that link left sitting somewhere on your page. The idea is that in searches, Google will rank the spammer's site higher because there are a lot of pages out there linking in to it. The challenge for search engines and spam filters is to separate the genuine from the spammy, and the challenge for the spammers is to find a way to keep their comments from getting filtered or deleted. As filters evolve, so do the spammers. These days, in order to get through the filters, a comment should not only look plausible, but avoid repeating itself over a large swath of blog comment space.

One way to avoid repeating the same comment over and over without having to write thousands of different original comments is to replace the words in one comment with various synonyms. Recently, a spammer accidentally posted an entire spam template to Scott Hanselman's blog, where you can see how this synonym substitution works. For example, one comment template reads:

I {want to|wish to|desire to} {read|learn} {more|even more}
{things|issues} {approximately|about} it!

 

"Approximately" and "about" are indeed synonyms ("He is {approximately | about} six feet tall"), but not in this context. This is why so many of these template-generated comments look so odd. As many freshman writing seminar instructors can attest, automatic thesaurus substitution is a dangerous thing.

Here are 11 blog comments that clumsily give away their synonym strategy, from the collection of Stan Carey (#1 through #3), Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing (#4 through #6), and The Museum of Comment Spam (#7 through #11).

1. FULGUROUS ARTICLE, I SUPPOSE IT IS ONE OF THE PRIZEWINNING I'VE EVER SEEN.

"Fulgurous" is a rarely-used word to describe a flash of lightning, which is probably standing in for "brilliant" here. "Prizewinning" is a synonym for "best."

2. THIS WEB SITE IS MY BREATHING IN, REALLY SUPERB PATTERN AND PERFECT SUBJECT MATERIAL.

Some accidentally poetic etymological use here, with "breathing in" for "inspiration." "Pattern" is a synonym for "work" — when you're talking about weaving.

3. SPLENDID ONE, MAN!

"Splendid" can be a synonym for "nice," but it sure looks weird in this phrase. As Carey says, "it's a bit of an awkward register mix, like 'How do you do, dude.'"

4. THOUGH I DO NOT NECESSARILY CONCUR WITH THE IDEA IN TOTALITY, I REGARD YOUR POINT OF VIEW.

"Concur" for "agree"? "Regard" for "see"? Not just unusual, but totally pretentious.

5. I ACTUALLY LIKE WHAT YOU HAVE ACQUIRED HERE.

Another casual phrase, "I like what you've got here," rendered weirdly robotic with synonym substitution.

6. UNWELL UNQUESTIONABLY COME MORE FORMERLY AGAIN AS EXACTLY THE SAME NEARLY VERY OFTEN INSIDE CASE YOU SHIELD THIS HIKE.

A treasure trove! They must have begun with "I'll" but left out the apostrophe for "ill" which then passed through the thesaurus to become "unwell." A look at a bunch of similar posts with different substitutions suggests the source is something like "I'll definitely come once again for more if you keep this up." How does that work? Easy: Keep > protect > shield. Up > increase > hike.

7. NICE TASK.

Yes, a job is a task in some contexts. Not in this one.

8. I HAVE BEEN BROODING ABOUT IN CASE YOUR WEB HOST IS OK?

"Brooding" for "worrying," "in case" for "whether" — there is something so romantic about this comment, it almost earns its right to stay.

9. HELLO THERE, SIMPLY CHANGED INTO AWARE OF YOUR WEBLOG VIA GOOGLE, AND LOCATED THAT IT IS TRULY INFORMATIVE.

To become is to change into. To find is to locate. It all makes so much sense until you put it together in a sentence.

10. I'M TAKING A LOOK FORWARD ON YOUR SUBSEQUENT PUBLISH, I'LL TRY TO GET THE CLING OF IT!

Hang, cling. Cling, hang. I bet they have a version that tries to "get the dangle of it."

11. I'M GONNA WATCH OUT FOR BRUSSELS.

This mysterious sentence shows up frequently in comment spam, and it seems to replace "I'm gonna watch out for updates." How did brussels get in there? And is it the city or the sprouts? The only substitutions for "brussels" that I've seen in this comment are "diamonds," "gold," and "the city." Still a mystery, but an exciting international bank heist kind of mystery.

 

 
Arika Okrent is editor-at-large at TheWeek.com and a frequent contributor to Mental Floss. She is the author of In the Land of Invented Languages, a history of the attempt to build a better language. She holds a doctorate in linguistics and a first-level certification in Klingon.

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