Thursday, January 25, 2007

Karma Zabitch

Last year was a snowy winter with miserable traffic on the roads, but I didn't care because I had an honest-to-God telecommuting job editing essays on my laptop at home and then e-mailing them to some guy in New York. I never met my boss in person, but when he hired me he explained (over the phone) that his plan was to eventually compile the essays into a sort of online encyclopedia, with each entry having a different address, and then make money off of advertising.

None of this really made sense to me, but then I have no idea how one goes about making money from online advertising anyway. (Don’t you freeloaders ever click on a mothafizzuckin’ blog ad, for Chrissakes?) My paychecks cleared the bank, and that was good enough for me.

The essays were written in India, in a language almost but not quite English. Some of them would have inspired any high-school ignoramus facing an essay test: three or four hundred words containing no information whatsoever. (My favorite was the piece on Chicago real estate, with the opening sentence “Chicago real estate is land and buildings in Chicago.” I changed “is” to “consists of.”) Others were semi-educational: that job is where I first heard of the diet drug known as hoodia. All were boring (except the unintentionally hilarious ones), but I did eight hours’ worth of work in less than three, spent the rest of the day reading books, and kept that job until I landed my current gig writing for a newspaper.

Then I started this blog here. Spambots discovered it two weeks later. At first the bots tried to disguise their spam as legitimate comments: “Nice site! Interesting topic! I find more information here” and here turned out to be a site where you could buy cheap Viagra without a prescription. Delete comment.

Then the bots started dumping comments into archived threads, and didn’t even try to disguise themselves. I get an e-mail alert whenever someone makes a comment here, and every day I find one or two comments in a months-old thread, saying nothing but Buy Cialis Buy Levitra Buy Viagra. Delete, delete, delete.

The bots switched to ploys for sympathy. “Hi don’t delete this please I need money.” Delete. They moved closer in time to the present, dumping links not only in archived comment threads but into comments on the main page, sometimes even the most recent post. Delete, delete, frak off, delete. The hard-core porn links started arriving: Asian three-way Lolita bestiality. Delete, you sick perverts.

The most recent bot attack was three posts in a row, each a list of multiple links. Not porn links, this time. No prescription-drug offers. Nuh-uh. With a sick sense of recognition I saw
Buy Chicago real estate
lose weight with hoodia
cruise vacations in Alaska
buy discount wedding dresses

and thirty more titles, and while I don’t dare click on a spambot link for fear of coming down with the computer-virus equivalent of AIDS I had a sudden insight into the nature of my last employer:

I USED TO BE AN EDITOR FOR A SPAM COMPANY. I probably edited (and wrote headlines for) some of the very essays whose links plague my comment threads.

Oh, hell.

(P.S. With January nearly over I have yet to receive an income-tax form from the guy. Want to bet I never will?)

17 Comments:

Anonymous smartass sob said...

"Karma Zabitch"

(sigh) Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer. Do you mean to say that what goes around comes around? You have my sincerest sympathies. (smirk, smirk) ;-)

6:33 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Oh! Speaking of advertising, how's the Google ads thing going? Have you made enough to buy that cup of coffee yet? Just wondering.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Actually, Smartass, I could afford a small bag of quality free-trade whole-bean at this point, except the bots don't send a check until you have a full hundred dollars' worth of ad revenue. At the rate I'm going, that'll be another--long, long time.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Brad Warbiany said...

LOL... That's hilarious!

Oh, if you were to get off Blogger and into a blog software like Wordpress, cleaning up spam gets easier. There are a few built-in spam filters that do a pretty good job. At The Liberty Papers, we also use a plugin that closes comments on posts over 21 days old, or we'd be getting absolutely swamped.

Speaking of coffee, if I were to become a successful enough blogger to buy enough coffee to make me be like Tweak from South Park, I'd be satisfied :-)

7:39 PM  
Anonymous a moose said...

I USED TO BE AN EDITOR FOR A SPAM COMPANY. I probably edited (and wrote headlines for) some of the very essays whose links plague my comment threads.


Oh, hell.


See, the Googlebots know this, and started subjecting you to your own private hell. Therefore, you get the religious ads, etc.

However, me being the helpful guy that I am, I just got H&R Block, and since I'm covert surfing on the company computer, I went ahead and clicked through for you. I think about 25 times. Hopefully that's a refill if you bring your own cup?

4:35 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Jennifer,
Thank you for putting a smile on my face. The cold gray winter fog had me feeling a bit down.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

You're quite welcome, NoStar. I wish I could say I made that story up, hoping to get a laugh out of people, but the sad fact is this story is 100% true.

At some point in the future I'll probably apply for another job. What the devil do I put on my resume? Right now it says "edited articles for online encyclopedia," and when I wrote the resume I thought that was the truth. Somehow I suspect "edited articles for a spammer who never even sent me a W-2 form" won't look as impressive.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous A moose said...

Somehow I suspect "edited articles for a spammer who never even sent me a W-2 form" won't look as impressive.

Aw, he's got five more days...

You still have the phone number? Could be an interesting phone call. Tape it, post it on You Tube or something.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Jennifer,
If you tell the truth, you just might impress them with your honesty and journalistic integrity. Also when they ask you about it, you'll have a very winning and funny story to tell.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

Right now it says "edited articles for online encyclopedia," and when I wrote the resume I thought that was the truth. Somehow I suspect "edited articles for a spammer who never even sent me a W-2 form" won't look as impressive.

Well, you not only thought you were editing an on-line encyclopedia, you manifestly were! It just happens to be an on-line encyclopedia of SPAM-body text, but still...

If someone actually asks for details, you can provide them - along with the humorous story, should the circumstances feel "right". I suspect most people won't even ask.

Of course, that's probably one of the first jobs to fall off the bottom of your resume, once you start filling up the page. :)

2:23 PM  
Blogger rhhardin said...

I work for a big official company and haven't gotten a W-2 form yet.

Unless it's been mixed in with the pages of tabloid drugstore and big box ads that arrives every day and I threw it out. I have no idea how much mail I might lose that way, by failing to check every page of circulars for folded-in mail.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Speaking of resume items that have probably fallen off the page, my favorite would have to be Mussolini Impersonator.

You won my heart with that one.

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over from (insert title here)... I think kharma is why they invented alcohol.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous mediageek said...

Jennifer, if it's true you've written spam, then there's a better than average chance that I've muttered untoward things about you, your family, your friends, your pets, the nation in which you reside.

I'm sorry.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I didn't write spam, Mediageek; I merely edited it.

That distinction won't be enough to prevent my going to hell, though.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

That distinction won't be enough to prevent my going to hell, though.

I don't know about all that. I know that I cannot be alone when I get some kind of spam email for barnyard babes, penis elargement, make millions in real estate paper, etc, and I say "How disgusting, I want to beat those morons with electrical cable.....but the editing ::sigh:: now THAT'S a work of art..."

Really, I do. There must be others.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous mediageek said...

Moose-

LOL!

10:14 AM  

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