Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What Are Spammers Thinking? 

Yes, I've been remiss about posting here recently, but I will skip the usual excuses this time. My ideal of course is to post something every day, as all good bloggers should, something short and pithy at least, but this would entail a controlled, harmonious existence in which interruptions and distractions are minimized, in which the appearance of balance and fortitude are in fact the situation. I like to imagine this might be true for me, someday, and I solemnly note the many other bloggers who seem to manage their output more consistently than I've been able to. I can only plead that the website itself takes priority; this blog is a lagniappe, for the 7 people who read it.

Today's pithy comment is about spammers. I mentioned a while back, facetiously, about going through the day's 10,000 spam. It was an exaggeration then; it isn't now. As domain administrator I still try to skim all the emails addressed *@locusmag.com, in hopes of catching the occasional misspelled or invalidly addressed (locusonline@locusmag.com; locsu@locusmag.com, etc.) email for something worth catching, but I'm on the verge of sending it all automatically to the bit bucket. My title query is to wonder what spammers are thinking when they send thousands of spam a day to obviously nonsensical email addresses -- moody@locusmag.com, fuller@locusmag.com, AmbroseXTishahick@locusmag.com, to pick 3 from the spam folder at random. Who do they think would ever see these emails? The number of spam received at legitimate addresses -- online, locus, mark, and a couple others @locusmag.com -- is a small proportion of the total.

UPDATE to reply to commentator Rick -- Hi Rick, but this is Mark, not Charles. See upper right corner. Charles does the magazine, I do the website, and this blog. Thanks for reading!
Have you considered applying for a Gmail for your Domain account for locusmag.com?

I use it for one of my sites and the spam has dropped very significantly -- Google hardly lets any spam through.
Hi Charles, you have 8 readers now. I started following this blog last month.

REgarding the spam, on the end-user side, I get six or seven consecutive spams, supposedly from different "people," all pumping the same pink sheet stock using a graphic instead of text.

He won't buy the stock if Melinda sends the email, but maybe he will if the email is from Carlo, or Martin, or Stephanie. Sheesh.

Furthermore, if you ever pull a chart on any of these things, it's obvious they recycle the same message over and over. The charts don't lie, these are obvious pump and dump vehicles.
Quite simply, spammers are not thinking at all because they lack the fundamental capabilities of human decency. They are driven by the pursuit of the dollar and will do whatever it takes to get it - even if that something is generating millions of random, near-valid and valid-sounding email addresses. It's an incredibly small effort for them with their spammer software tools, but it is enormously troublesome for the poor individuals who receive it. It's not personal, you see. It's an automated process. A successful hit rate of less than 1 percent turns out to be very profitable for them.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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