Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 20 April 2013

I love blogpost comment spam - this is from very poor article-spinning algorithms

It's often very, very easy to spot a spam comment - and it's made an awful lot more easy when spammers try and throw several comments at once. Admittedly any one of these by itself would ring spam warning bells (some spam comments are better formatted and aren't as immediately obvious) but taken together I find them rather delightful.

Someone somewhere has written a basic sentence and then its text has been modified (probably automatically) by swapping words around to create an almost-infinite number of versions - this is 'article spinning' though it goes under different names too.

It's been used as a quick way of creating "fresh" website content to get round Google's disdain for obviously duplicated websites, although I think Google has toughened up on this. Far be it from me to imply that all badly written incomprehensible articles on the web are spun articles but if they're selling something I think that increases the likelihood.

Article spinning makes me think of  a combination of linguistics and cryptography (how easy is it to take these sentences and back-translate to work out the original text), and to a lesser extent, genetics (substitutions / mutations).

Here's my latest crop of spam comments.

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2. ShowGarden offers the utter Alimony unit for our home and commercial customers. With upkeep packages starting from as particle as e30 you can obtain that professional manicured garden in behalf of less than you think. We take it 100% bloke reparation is a minimum.

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4. ShowGarden offers the unabridged Sustentation enclose for our household and commercial customers. With sustentation packages starting from as petite as e30 you can force that prompt manicured garden with a view less than you think. We believe 100% chap fulfilment is a minimum.

5. ShowGarden offers the unabated Persistence case for our house-broken and commercial customers. With upkeep packages starting from as little as e30 you can have that professional manicured garden in place of less than you think. We credit 100% customer satisfaction is a minimum.

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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).