Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam

I was surprised a few years back when James, a friend of mine, introduced me to what looked like "Spam sushi"  - nori seaweed paper rolled around sushi-vinegared rice and a big long hunk of spam. I made the normal protests ("I'm too hip and cool for this Spam business ") and then shut the <blank> up and tried it. It....was.....AMAZING. I couldn't believe it.

The official Hawaiian dish is called Spam musubi and you can find a recipe here, but you should really follow the traditional sushi rice recipe here instead of what you see on the Hormel site. Brings out the flavor of the pork product.

I mention these culinary forays only because that's the last truly wonderful experience I've had with anything called spam.  (Everyone remember - the meat is capitalized to Spam, the annoying email is spam). Except for some of the accidentally humorous ones, it's been all Internet scams and cleaning out my inbox since then, and now of course the term has prevailed into another arena: blogging. At least Hormel is being a good sport about it.

Matt Hicks of eWeek just wrote a story about's dealings with comment spam, where you hear me and Josh Ledgard and Robert Hensing hold forth on the comment spam issue. Basically what comment spam is - besides the single-attempt hi-jinks of someone who is harassing the blogger for fun - is a calculated, automated  attempt to raise the spammer's Web site Google ratings by having point to them. Since Microsoft bloggers are an independent lot, and point only to who they want to, the spammers decide to post a comment which points back to their Web site. Or hundreds of them.

 If that hundred comments are live and Google crawls again - well, suddenly their site gets the same search ranking as though a blogger pointed to them on purpose. It's evil - steals mojo and makes highly annoying Web sites more popular.

This perhaps suggests that search engine technology should take a  giant leap forward and start "anti-referrals" to certain Web sites. Akin to virus software's quarantine systems or the matter around black holes, coment spammer sites should be lumped together within the secret workings of the internal algorithms. Any clicking on rankings created by comment spam should steer the user to their nearest competitor or some user experience so heinous the user never tries to go to that Web site again (certain William Shatner songfests come to mind). Or perhaps clicking on the spammer's link will just send large angry mutant gophers to the user's house to teach him/her a lesson by thwacking him with a large roll of Spam musubi. The gophers need the work.

Dang, but that's a waste of good Spam though.

Live it vivid!



Comments (17)

  1. Charles Chen says:

    I would figure that the solution is simple Captcha (Completely Automated Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart) images would do the trick (you know those images with text and all sorts of weird patterns that make the text hard for a computer to recognize, but simple for a human to read).

    There was even an MSDN article on how to do this in .Net (

    Simple enough. Would pretty much defeat the automated posts.

    But then again, it IS coming from China, the world’s capitol of cheap labor….

  2. Betsy says:

    This is good feedback. I’m curious; what would you suggest we do that would still allow folks who are blind (and for that matter with other accessibility issues) to comment on our posts?

  3. Charles Chen says:

    Simple, do the same thing using Audio.

    Dynamically generate a file that will say the following:

    "What is the fifth word in the following sentence: gerbils atomicity french klingon font taiwan".

    User types "font" and gets in. They would have to be REALLY determined to write/obtain a speech parser. Even then, they would need logic to determine which word is the correct one (thus the first part of that question, which picks an ordinal position in the set).

  4. Betsy says:

    What about the elderly user who can’t see very well or hear very well?

    (If you think I’m using you as a guinea pig, I am. ๐Ÿ™‚ You can always stop of course. But these are the sorts of things we debate internally a lot)


  5. Charles Chen says:

    Granted, I don’t know anything off the top of my head that does what I mentioned (audio CAPTCHA), but I’m sure it can be done ๐Ÿ˜€ !
    <br>I’ve seen a couple sites that use Flash with speech synthesizers…so I say it should be possible with a bit of research.

  6. Charles Chen says:

    If you are elderly and you can’t see or hear very well, what is the chance that you would have walked over to a computer, fired up a browser, navigated to <a target="_new" href=""></a&gt;, read a long post, scrolled to the bottom of the page, overcome your severe arthritis, and typed a message?
    <br>Okay, I guess it’s not *impossible*. But chances are, if the user could navigate to the site using audio or visual cues, they will be able to handle one form of verification or the other. If there are other browsers out there (Braille?!?!), then there would have to be some other solution which I could only come up with if knew the alternative (are there alternatives to visual/audio browsers?)

  7. Charles Chen says:

    Okay, reading the rest of the document I linked, it shows that MS Windows already installs with a text to speech engine (scroll 3/4 ways down)

    So there ๐Ÿ˜‰

    The solution is right under your nose…now if Scott (or whoever manages .Text nowadays) would take some time to implement it, I think it would act (at the least) as a deterrence to the spammers.

  8. Betsy says:

    Ok, now for the hard question: what do you think of Spam musubi?

  9. Stumbled in here rather by accident, but anyhow, Charles: What about a blind guy who is more or less able to read and understand English, but his orthografic knowledges are rather poor? Go confront him with "What’s the third word of the following words: airplane piggyback orthografic fourier appropriate"! And what do you expect how a British would type "airplane"? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Betsy, I’ll try your recipe. If my stomach’s going to let my face go blue screen, I’d expect an appropriate compensation ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Kind regards from gray and windy Berlin, Germany,


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