Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Feed on Greed

You haven’t bought a lottery ticket in at least five years. You’re intelligent and capable of weighing the odds and when the small print at the bottom of the ticket says, “odds of winning 1 in 75 million,” you figure you’d be better off walking the golf course holding up a five iron to attract lightning twice in a row. So, why is it that some twit floods the world’s email inboxes with notices that the recipient has won and all they need to do is click on the link and give the info requested so that the check can be sent? Do a lot of folks do this?

Is it even slightly plausible that out of nearly 300 million Americans you, and you alone, have been chosen by the widow of the deposed minister of finance of Nigeria, Liberia or Lower Slobovia to help recover the hundreds of millions he salted away in tax-exempt accounts prior to his death? Do people really respond to these scams? Or, is it merely that the first iterations of the spam somehow entered a cyber-nursery where they were nurtured and cross-pollinated so that they have taken on a life of their own forever to repeat in a new and slightly modified format until the end of time?

If you don’t have a Pen-Pal account, never sold a thing on E-bay, and have no money in City Bank, why would you click on a link to update your account information? Does anyone respond to these “phishing” ploys?

When you get a message that informs you, “here is the information you requested,” but you’ve never heard of the sender and it’s addressed to someone that only has one or two letters in common with your email address, do you eagerly click on the link to check it out? And, what benefit does the idiot who sent this crap derive from his malice?

I know, we all know, that these spams, scams, worms, and Trojan horses are a cost of living in the digital age. But, increasingly they seem like the graffiti which festooned the New York City subway cars a few years back before Rudy Giuliani came along. It isn’t “art” or “self-expression” and it isn’t really going to get some “genius” programmer identified so that Bill Gates can offer him a million dollar a year programming job. They should not be tolerated and the dim-witted perpetrators should be uncovered and suffer the penalties that can be properly imposed by an intolerant society. Personally I think flailing is pretty good, although the old business with tying the limbs to four wild horses has a certain attraction.

What causes this tirade against the obvious? It’s the blogging life and my part of it. I blog to be read. It’s that simple. There is a choice in how the blog is set up regarding the posting of reader comments. I choose to allow folks with something to say about my musings to offer their opinion. There aren’t many takers and thought could be someone’s way of telling me that there aren’t many readers. That’s fine. I still like the idea of allowing comment.

Recently, I’ve been getting comments on some posts. Great, I thought until I read them. It seems that the creativity of the spammer, scammer and adolescent programming misfits extends to automatic blog commenting. Commenters note that they love the blog and, by the way, they have bargains on insurance, a great page on multi-level-marketing opportunities, an outlet for deep discount sex aids, and the lowest prices on imported illegal pharmaceuticals. Sorry, but that’s not the political dialog that I wanted this site to generate.

There’s a solution however. It’s a minor inconvenience, but it appears to be necessary if I want to keep the comments option open. Should you wish to comment, you’ll be asked before posting to use a simple word verification window. The blog server will present a distorted word graphic and you will be required to type in the letters displayed. Supposedly this confounds automated comment posting software and should minimize the amount of trash generated in the comments section. Let’s give it a try.

Now, I’ve got to go get my credit card and bank account numbers because I need to help out a surviving nephew of the Defense Minister of Kuala Lumpur who needs assistance in getting his money freed up. I’m going to get a pretty good commission out of this…


Billy Beck said...

Great blog!

Listen, I'm going to start a company that will render comment-spammers down to a specially designed slide-lube for Colt 1911 actions. So, just shoot me your banking numbers, and I can get you in on the ground floor of this very going concern.

"It's the only way to be sure."

Anonymous said...

The cost of sending out the spam is near zero. And there was news, couple months ago, that some poor woman who was bookkeeper for a factory got sucked in by one of these things and sent a million dollars of her employers' money off to Nigeria. So, all it takes is one...