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I hate spammers, and I’m 100% certain other people do too. Everyone at some point in time has had some type of experience with spammers. But you almost have to admire these individuals, almost. The techniques used are as varied as the outlets in which they are unleashed. During my thirteen years of internet exposure, I’ve had the displeasure of running into six types of spammers. The first of which I call the Sniper Spammer.
1. Sniper Spammer
A military sniper is one who remains in the shadows, lying in wait until the prime target comes by. Pretty intimidating, but the spammer in this category is anything but. This spammer lies in wait until the “next big thing” comes by. For instance, even before Apple announced the release of the iPad, hundreds if not thousands of spammers were out proclaiming “You could win an iPad!”.
These spammers can be found just about everywhere. I’ve seen them in ads, Facebook, Twitter and even blogs. Luckily once these spammers give away their position, it’s not hard to figure out what they are, pathetic. This next spammer actually has somewhat of a spine, or lack of brains, depending on how you look at him. I give you, the Suicide Spammer.
2. Suicide Spammer
The Suicide Spammer was actually my very first encounter with spam. I was thirteen, in my first chat room and this private message popped up, “Hey you seem like a really cool guy. I’m gonna give you a secret link to the lowest electronics available online!”. I thought, “Hey cool!” Ah to be young and ignorant. Before I could even click the link a moderator booted this guest for the reason, “No Spammers or Bots Allowed!”
Even after the encounter I still saw on several occasions spammers joining chat rooms or forums that had explicit warnings about spam getting removed as soon as a comment was posted. It’s because of this I call this type “Suicide Spammers”. They know full well, even before completing the registration form, they will be removed shortly. Very few people who see the spammy comment would click on the link included with serious interest.
So why even bother? I’d venture to say whatever it is being ‘presented’ is worth the risk to the spammer. The next spammer takes things a little slow and attempts to pull ‘friends’ in. This one is called, the Sociable Spammer.
3. Sociable Spammer
The Sociable Spammer is pretty closely related to the sleeping spammer (listed last). These individuals often are new to social networking sites. These spammers actually take the time to read the rules and regulations while abiding by them for a period of time.
Then when a sort of “level of trust” is established the spamming begins, in my experience after a month or so. I don’t mean like a flood of links or content, I mean messages/posts like, “Hey Guys, I just wanted to let you all know my company is having a contest. Whoever is the 500th person at our site to fill out a survey gets his/her name placed in a raffle for a chance to win a 2011 Camaro! The contest is only up for a short amount of time so go now! Thanks guys!”
This is usually followed up by a warning or automatic ban. The spammer then moves on to the next forum to begin again. I’ve only seen this type three times, Xanga (remember that?!), MSN Chat Room, and Facebook. These three were memorable enough for a mention here. Speaking of Xanga, this next spammer is infamous for ruining perfectly good blogs with spam. I present to you, the Splogging Spammer.
4. Splogging Spammer
Splogging is a term I recently heard about in March of 2009. Perfect! I thought, this is exactly what I’ve been coming across on WordPress and what my wife dealt with on Xanga at one point (she still uses her account from 5 years ago) last year. These spammers can be more sophisticated, but seldom are. Typically a splogger will comment like, “Hey nice post check this site out if you want some cool stuff!” or a variation thereof.
On my personal blog I write about my current weight loss goals and exercise methods, so naturally I looked on WordPress to see if I could find any. The first three I found were literally written, “WEIGHT LOSS WEIGHT LOSS WEIGHT LOSS WEIGHT LOSS WEIGHT LOSS WEIGHT LOSS WEIGHT LOSS WEIGHT LOSS WEIGHT LOSS”, an entire page dedicated to that! I did manage to find one that seemed okay, however further reading revealed it was for moms who had just given birth and were losing pregnancy weight.
Being a man, clearly this was not for me. Back to splogging, rarely have I seen a well written post of these types. If I have, they fooled me. Usually the splogs will consist of post after post after post of the same product with little variation in the wording. Our next spammer, the Synthetic Spammer doesn’t have a mind of its own and in my opinion is a dying breed.
5. Synthetic Spammer
Probably the most utilized method in the early beginning, synthetic spamming is essentially a program that scans for sites to submit information to. However, with functions such as ‘Captcha’ it is becoming increasing difficult for these programs to work efficiently. Unfortunately once the registration is completed the program can run the way it is meant to. The most recent social outlet I’ve seen to be infected with these spammers is Twitter.
Automated tweeting can be great for those with multiple accounts and a busy schedule, but with the advancement in technology comes the abuse of that technology. Thankfully our last spammer is a little slow to start as this type is, the ‘Sleeping Spammer’.
6. Sleeping Spammer
The Sleeping Spammer is the newest one I’ve come across, seeing my first one in December of last year. Around that time I had a “person” start following me, so with every notification I checked out the profile. 200 following – 120 followers – 0 tweets. I had a gut feeling something wasn’t right, but I was curious to see what would happen. Close to the end of January I decided to check back on this account (since I didn’t follow back) to discover the stats were now, 2500 following – 1300 followers – 1000 tweets.
Stunned I began to read the tweets, “By MaryK Products now #lipbalm#makeup#lipgloss#..etc” Now seeing as how tweets can be automated, and there is a way to automatically follow people, I’m making the assumption this spammer set up his/her account to begin to tweet spam once a certain amount of followers was reached to ensure that when the spam began it would hit the most people in the shortest amount of time before the account was abandoned or suspended. Its for this reason I call this spammer a sleeper.
Some may read this and think, “Hey! I have a blog for my business! I post on my stuff on twitter and facebook! I’m not a spammer!” To those I say, “If you abide by all rules and regulations set forth by the forums/chat-rooms you are not a spammer. If you have a blog that doesn’t go overboard on self-promotion and post senseless comments on other blogs you are not a spammer.” What it boils down to is ethics and more importantly common sense.
Let’s be honest, a spammer is a spammer. Regardless of technique or medium used the end result is the same. Luckily with so many new methods of catching spammers such as ‘Captcha’ and even moderator approval for blogs and forums, its getting harder for spammers to infiltrate. But rest assured, as soon as a spammer is blocked he/she will find a way around it. If you have a story about a spammer listed here, or maybe one that isn’t I’d love to hear about it. Thanks for reading.
I’ve complied a list useful articles that provide information on avoiding spamming techniques:
- Do’s & Don’ts of Social Media Marketing
- Finding Success in Social Media
- How to Monetize Social Media: The Right Way
- Twitter’s Real Time Spam Problem
- Google Warns About Social Media “Schemes” in SEO Guide
If you have a story about a spammer listed here, or maybe one that isn’t I’d love to hear about it. Thanks for reading.
Joshua Titsworth is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Chemidex. Josh maintains the SEO and SMM in addition to assisting with the PPC and Google Analytics reporting. While off the clock he volunteers as a SEO consult to his church in Olathe, KS, as well as to other non-profits in the area. When M.I.A. online he can be found roaming golf courses in search of his shanked golf balls. You can touch base with Josh on his twitter account @joshuatitsworth.