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There was a time when spam referred to Hormel's canned meat. Then junk email was honored with the moniker thanks to Monty Python. Today spam comprises the majority of the emails sent around the world. But spamming is no longer just confined to email.

Search engine spamming is another irritation that has gripped the Web for some time. It manifests itself in several variations like blog spamming and forum spamming but it's generally referred to Web sites that cobble together a lot of content taken from various places, lace it with a medley of popular keywords and let the search engines crawl and index them. The spam site operators make money by greeting visitors with ads and other pitches, giving little in return in terms of value and quality.

Comment spamming is another way shady sites can their word out. They typically unleash search robots on sites, looking for pages they can submit comments to. These could be blogs, forums, feedbacks, or submission forms. The Web Tools pages of this site, for examples, has such comment sections for users to leave feedback. Once discovered, the robots post messages peddling porn, medication, gambling, stocks, or whatever else the scammers are engaged in. Realizing that many site operators delete such entries eventually, the robots come back repeatedly to post more messages. They also use evasive tactics such as posting from various nodes, in case a site blocks access to one or two offending IP addresses. After receiving countless junk posts, I finally decided to incorporate a CAPTCHA system into the commenting page. The technique is not fool-proof and adds a small inconvenience for legitimate users, but it prevents most robots from posting comments as they are unable to decipher the encoded phrase necessary to make a successful entry.

Clearly spammers have some success with their tactics. They obviously play the numbers game. In other words they count on the fact that a small minority of people can be fooled by their junk messages and put money in their pockets. I wonder about the gullibility of some people that actually respond to them. If spam didn't produce any results, these guys wouldn't waste even a single second pumping out the garbage. As long as the cost of spamming remains low, and as long as a few naïve people are fooled, the abhorrent activity will continue. All site operators can do is to make their sites less palatable and less accessible to spammers and hope the miscreants will move on to easier targets.,,,,,

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