A puzzle: Why are so many fake LiveJournal blogs written by 29-year-olds?

NPR's All Tech Considered blog notices a huge spike of LiveJournal users who claim to be 29 years old. They conclude (almost certainly correctly) that these are all fake journals created by spam bots. But why 29 years old?

One possible answer.

Comments (32)
  1. Sinan Unur says:

    The link says “Page not found”.

    [Fixed (once I figured out which link you were talking about), thanks. -Raymond]
  2. John says:

    Your url is messed up.

    This is just some text to get around the minimum character count filter; please ignore it.

  3. Eff Five says:

    Really? The beginning of the DOS date/time era.

  4. Mark says:

    Also, the server seems to have changed coast (3 hours out).

  5. Josh says:

    It’s not spam bots at all.  Obviously, there are a large number of older women finally taking up this blogging fad, but they don’t want to admit their true age.

    Why has no one thought of this explanation?

  6. Joel says:

    An I’m sure their birth date is January 1st (isn’t it the default date)… ;)

  7. The raw data also shows a huge spike at age 8 and 9 (or year 2000/2001) and a small but statistically significant spike at 108/109 (year 1900/1901.)


  8. stegosauras says:

    @Josh: 29 is "older women"? Wow, you and Octavian.

    But it seems to me that the lovely young Russian women who write to my spam filter are mostly a bit younger than that, generally 26.

  9. anonymous says:

    Does not have to be spam bot.  Possibly this is the least-effort fake date to enter with the drop down UI for that site.  I bet these 29-year old’s birthday is january 1st.

  10. Sinan Unur says:

    Sorry about the imprecise reference to the link. I guess my brain was caught in the "it is obvious, he knows I am talking about ‘One Possible Answer’" trap.

    Anyway, this was just priceless. Thank you.

  11. Rikard says:

    @stegosauras: Read before you post.

  12. htd says:

    ‘all tech considered’ seems to be as dumb as NPR’s ‘future trends’, I cant stand listening to a guy who doesnt know what tech is talking about ‘future trends’

  13. Max says:


    Wow.  There are a lot of 8 years olds on livejournal:

    age 7 2508

    age 8 1239858

    age 9 665600

    age 10 1195

    That is quite the spike.

  14. Johnny Krebo says:

    When I was under 18, I used 1980 as my birthday, simply because its a round number and I knew it was over 18. That’s just what I’m going to guess.

  15. DriverDude says:

    "Wow.  There are a lot of 8 years olds on livejournal:"

    Wow, all the Millennium babies are on Livejournal!

  16. Cooney says:

    But why 29 years old?

    The simple approach is to ask "What happened 29 years ago?" That was 1980, so it could be a default value in a common webform; I would imagine that you could use this sort of info to fingerprint the software being used, but it’s just down to the debugging techniques you advocate.

  17. Chris L says:

    The 8-year-olds were born after the September 11 attacks, when half the country thought the world was about to end and stayed indoors all day.

  18. Chris L says:

    Actually, my comment makes no sense.

  19. Ross Bemrose says:

    Makes me wonder if people thought my LiveJournal was a spam blog last year.

  20. Dean Harding says:

    My birthday *is* in 1980, does that mean I’m a spambot?

  21. eupator says:

    Actually, a far more likely explanation is either a default value in the birth year select box at some point in the past, or an arbitrarily chosen birth year assigned to accounts created before LJ started asking for it.

  22. freaky_thoughts says:

    I think this is psycological thing that, all those claiming 29 ones are above 30. 29 would be the least lie about their age….lol

  23. Mark says:

    anonymous: we just have to wait until January 1st to find out…

  24. Josh says:

    @stegosauras: I wasn’t saying 29 is older woman.  There is a running joke (with some basis in reality) that women who are in denial about their age will always lie and say they are 29, because they can’t be old if they’re still in their twenties.  Oftentimes this can continue until the woman is in her forties or even fifties.  Of course, at that point they’ll simply start saying they just turned 39.

  25. DWalker says:

    All of the spam from "beautiful Russian women" that I received two months ago (several spams each day, for several weeks) were from 26-year olds.

    They wanted to marry me.  But, I have zero interest in 26-year old Russian women.  

    I thought it was funny that they all had different names, but they were all 26 years old.  I figured that was an age that (many) people would find attractive.

  26. DWalker says:

    Related item:  Why are the best soccer players born in the first few months of the year?

    Hint:  There is a logical answer.

  27. Cooney says:

    Related item:  Why are the best soccer players born in the first few months of the year?

    This one’s easy: when you’re underage, soccer competition is stratified by birth date, so people born in january-march come just under the cap, so they’re more developed and, as star players, get more attention from the coach.

  28. LiveJournal does seem to have gotten itself way too many spambots these days (as evidenced by http://www.livejournal.com/stats/latest.bml).

    Interestingly enough, most of the spam posts seem to be the same format, so maybe it’s just a particular bot type that likes the year 1980.

  29. DWalker says:

    Right, Cooney; kids born in Jan-March are significantly "older" than kids of the same age who were born later in the year.

  30. Cooney says:

    Yes, Dwalker, they are. When you’re 8-10, those few months are a significant bump, and getting a boost from that lets you get better coaching, which increases the bump.

    Got a better idea?

  31. ton says:

    "December 31, 1969

    January 1, 1970 The value -1 or 0 as  

                           a time_t.

    All of these special values have one thing in common: If you see them, it’s probably a bug. Typically they will arise when somebody fails to do proper error checking and ends up treating an error code as if it were a valid return value. (The special values 0, -1, and 0xFFFFFFFF are often used as error codes.)"

    Yep, I’ve been to several sites where it would say the timestamp of a video is " added 39 years ago". I knew it was a bug but wasn’t quite sure how their crappy code was failing. It makes much more sense now.

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