Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam

I have about 75 more pages to write in the current monstrosity, so I'm hoping to really bust myself and finish it this weekend. I didn't add new pages yesterday in part because it was a busy day and in part because there was something in the last bit I wrote that I was unhappy with, and I took some time to untangle the problem, which may require some backtracking, but I think I like the solution. We'll see when I actually write it. I now think I know just about everything else that will happen in this book and how it will happen, so theoretically it should be easy from here. "Easy" in a relative sense because it's never truly easy.

In other news, I've learned that I'm getting a larger-than-expected royalty check. It's not as huge as the one I got from Japan in December, but it's a couple hundred more dollars than I anticipated. When I finish this book, I will not only finally get around to buying that new computer I need, but I may finally get a Blu-Ray player, using the "bonus" amount in the royalty check for something fun. I figure that's the wave of the future and if I'm ever going to upgrade I should probably do so before I buy more non-Blu-Ray DVDs, and I do have an HDTV, so I might as well get HD for something. I'll have to figure out exactly what functionality I want, as I'd like to be prepared for what I might want in the near future. For instance, you can get them with wireless networking built in for Internet streaming. I don't currently get Netflix and I don't currently have WiFi at home, but it is something I might consider for the future, and maybe the wireless streaming would allow me to use the computer as a media server for any programming obtained over the Internet (hulu, network web sites, etc.). I'll have to do some research and talk to my techie friends. This isn't a rush, just something I'll start thinking about, probably after I finish the next book. It falls after the new computer (but I guess if I'm going to use the computer for video stuff, it may factor into which computer I get) and after the new dishwasher on the priority list.

I don't know if it's just me, but the spammers have really hit full-force this week, and it's an odd kind of spamming. I haven't had a lot of spam comments on my blog, but this week my Blogger site has gone nuts with it. In the past, the few spam comments I've received have been really obvious, where the comment was pure spam. Then it started being the weird, vague comments that went something like, "This is a very interesting topic, and you've covered it well. I like what you said," but then that would be followed by a string of links to online pharmacies, places to buy counterfeit designer clothes or sites where you could meet hot women. This week's spam comments, though, were pretty specific, actually commenting on the subject matter of the blog posts. Why were they spam? Well, the user name was "Generic (drug name)" and the link in the user name led to an online pharmacy (no, I didn't click on it, but it showed up when I hovered over it). And the posts being commented on were years old.

I did pause for thought before deleting all these comments. Is posting something relevant but with a commercial link in the user name that different from what I do when I post comments on other blogs and use my name and link to my web site? I don't comment unless it's something I would have said even if no one knew I was an author (unless it's specifically about writing or publishing, of course), but I do hope that if people are interested in what I have to say, they'll follow the link and maybe try my books. But I decided that there was a difference -- I'm using my real name, not a business name. I'm generally commenting on topics that are at least marginally related, like books, science fiction and fantasy or writing. And since I'm pretty certain there's no legal generic version of the drug being advertised, these links are a scam that I don't want to expose my readers to.

I've heard that most of those "make money at home on the Internet" ads are about this kind of thing, paying people to go around the Internet and post spam comments, and the spammers are using real people to get past the various technologies designed to weed out automated spammers. Maybe whatever person who'd fallen for this work-at-home scheme really was reading my blog and commenting appropriately. But in last night's wave of spam posts coming from that name, we were back to the generic "this is an interesting post and I like what you've said" comments, so either there's more than one person posting under the name or the person got bored with reading posts and making relevant comments and just went to pasting in the generic comments.

In general, I go with the "my blog, my rules" philosophy, so comments are allowed at my pleasure. I generally don't censor, but if there's the slightest whiff of spam, it's toast. If you can prove that your given name is "Generic" and your last name is the name of a popular drug marketed to men, then I may let it slide, but your user name shouldn't link to an online pharmacy.

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