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