High Quality Spam

By Chris Mooney | December 6, 2010 8:02 am

CreamOfSpamWe get spam comments on this blog. Lots of them.

Worse still, we have to wade through them all. For some reason, we’ve been totally stymied when it comes to finding a way to ensure that no real comments end up in our spam folder. As a result, I’m often in there, separating wheat from chaff.

(Wheat usually occurs about 1 out of 50 times, but we get so much spam–and so many comments–that that may be equivalent to 20 comments a day.)

So I’ve been neck deep in spam, and in the process, I’ve noticed something odd. Every once and a while, I come across spam comments that are funny, poetic…even kind of moving. I’m guessing they’re still robotically generated….but I almost kinda want to publish them.

And so, adopting a make-lemonade philosophy, I’m creating a kind of “greatest hits” list of spam lines. Here are some samples:

I don;t know how you find the time to write so well but here is a little something
100,000 sperm and you were the fastest?

Love is atemporary insanity curable by marriage. :)

I made my money by selling too soon.

You can make a saxophone into an electric organ; you can do everything with it.

I was only in one play at Steppenwolf, in the early days.

If god is watching us, the least we can do is be entertaining. :)

And finally, my all time fave:

I hear you. Everything sucks, and then you blog. The end.

What do you think? Is it possible that…not all spam is equal–nor completely evil?


Comments (11)

  1. William Furr

    Reminds me of an xkcd comic where one of the characters is devising a way to get spammers to make helpful constructive comments so he doesn’t even have to moderate them.


    Have you considered a registration system or a peer moderation system?

  2. Here’s my favorite:

    “I was suffering through your site and can see that you are offering Web Development services to your clients.”


  3. Chris Mooney

    Yes that is a good one. The accidental wit of spammers. Something gained in translation–or through misspelling.

    However, in some of the cases above, it seems the wit or humor is actually…deliberate, no?

  4. Due to some recent monkey business between AT&T, Yahoo!, and whatever BayesBot they started using, I had to switch off my spam filter for sidetracking too many valid emails.

    To make a long story short — I think you probably just need a vacation.

  5. John

    Several of these are quotations. While I don’t recognize all of them I get 5/7. For example the first three:


    I made my money by selling too soon. I never lost money by turning a profit.”
    – Bernard M. Baruch

    “Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.”
    – Ambrose Bierce


    Basically, you troll the web for a sentence which has passed the AI test and plop it in…

  6. Chris Mooney

    @4 well that explains it. at least the bot produces spam that’s mildly entertaining

  7. I think this sets up a sort of modern Turing test variant. Commenters are only allowed to speak if they can write something that exceeds the wit of a spambot.

  8. well, glad you’re getting something out of it.

  9. Chris Mooney

    @7 exceeds the wit of a spambot that apparently is able to freely wield ambrose bierce quotations and deliver them unattributed.

  10. the wit of a spambot that apparently is able to freely wield ambrose bierce quotations and deliver them unattributed.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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