I know websites that don’t rely on paywalls need to raise money somehow, but I know I’m not the only person who is thoroughly sick of the auto play video ads with audio that have started infesting many big media sites of late.
You know the ones I mean. They’re the ads that suddenly erupt in the middle of the screen as you scroll through the article. Until a couple of days ago you could click on the [x] in the corner of the ad so you could shut them up before the audio started playing, but now that option has gone away. It’s as if the people running the ad server noticed that everyone was closing them the instant they appeared, so took that option away.
If, as many people do, you’re listening to music while surfing the web, these things are intensely annoying. Your only option seems to be to close the browser tab without reading the rest of the article. Which is precisely what I’ve been doing.
I’ve seen them so far on The Guardian, The Independent and Forbes, so it’s not confined to bottom-feeding clickbait sites who are cynically concerned with selling eyeballs and nothing else.
Charlie Stross once said that all advertising devolves to the state of spam. Which would imply that, much like your typical make-money-fast or fake Viagra seller, these people know they’re ruining your UX, and just don’t care. Or maybe it really is just a case of sufficiently advanced stupidity being indistiguishable from malice.
What’s a more pertinant question is whether the management of The Guardian or The Independent care.
Found in the spam filter:
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There is a sometimes a surreal beauty in machine-generated gibberish
I wonder what the internet would have looked like had micropayments for content been the default model rather than advertising? Had that happened, then I bet spam would have been far less of a problem.
Because of the amount of bandwidth comment spammers have been eating, I have turned off comments on older posts. Hopefully this shouldn’t have much effect on the quality of blog conversations, because most of you only comment on recent posts anyway.
Moments after I mentioned on Twitter that I was seeing very little spam in my inbox compared to a couple of years ago, my inbox started getting flooded with “Undeliverable mail” return messages because some *&$% spammer has been spoofing one of my addresses. Suffice to say that if you get spam from Russian ladies using the address email@example.com, it’s not from me, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
If the best software engineers working for my ISP cannot prevent my email inbox from overflowing with “male enhancement” spam, what do you think are the chances of David Cameron’s porn filters working the way we’ve all been told they will work?
If you run a blog, one of the maintenance chores is dealing with comment spam. They’re usually easy to recongise; either banal “This is a really informative post” or surreal bot-generated gibberish. This was a typical one from a few months back:
“What i do not realize is in reality how you’re no longer really much more well-preferred than you may be now. You are very intelligent. You understand therefore considerably when it comes to this topic, produced me personally consider it from numerous various angles. Its like women and men aren’t interested unless it��s something to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your personal stuffs great. Always take care of it up!”
This one, though, looked superficially convincing.
When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment.
Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
Now I do have the subscribe-to-comments plugin installed, and it’s not inconceiveable that something might have gone wrong with it. But it smelled a bit fishy, not least because I didn’t recognise the name.
First clue (which ought to have been obvious from the fact that the comment was held in the moderation queue in the first place) was that nobody using that email address had ever left a comment on this site. The second clue was that it was left against a several months old post that had no comments.
Once I looked at the subscribe-to-comments database, there was no sign of that address. So I concluded it was spam, and shot it.
Hats off, by the way, to Askimet, which traps hundreds of spam comments a week, leaving just two or three in an average week that need to be moderated manually. No way could I have open comments on this blog without it; it’s an absolutely critical part of the WordPress ecosystem.
You know those so-called “splogs” or spam blogs that have sprung up like Kudzu all over the web? They’re made up entirely of contact scraped from other sides and served up slathered in advertising. They pollute search engine results by using all kinds of dirty tricks to game search engine algorithms to make them appear above the legitimate sites they steal content from. They’re purely parasitical, bilking money from Google Adsense without creating anything of value, and stealing traffic as well as content from real sites.
Well, it turns out Tory minister Grant Shapps is behind many Splogs.
Yes, a government minister is a spammer and snake-oil “Internet Marketing Guru”, using the false name of “Michael Green”.
If you run a business under a false name, the default assumption has to be that you’re doing something dodgy, doesn’t it?
Two things immediately come to mind. Firstly, the whole thing is a perfect metaphor for the moral bankrupcy of the Conservative party. Secondly, it shows the establishment’s double standards when it comes to intellectual property. We have a government prepared to extradite Richard O’Dwyer to the US to face a lengthy prison term for copyright violation “because downloading a movie without paying is just like stealing a car”. Then we have a minister whose whole business is founded on theft of other people’s intellectual property. Seems that different standards apply if it’s the “little people” doing the stealing rather than being stolen from.