Tag Archives: lol_spam

LOL_Spam: Now on Facebook & Buzz!

lol_spamFor the past year and a half I’ve been posting funny spam quotes at @LOL_Spam on Twitter. A couple of weeks ago, I finally set up a website as a central profile and hooked it into Facebook and Buzz.

So now you can follow daily humor pulled from real spam in three ways:

For now, the older quotes (before November 2010) are only on Twitter, but eventually I plan on importing them to LOLspam.net. I figure WordPress 3.1’s built-in support for asides would make it an ideal platform to create a searchable archive and still tie into the same networks.

What the Heck is a “Pilule?”

Spammers have been using misspellings, synonyms and malapropisms for years now. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of Viagra/Cialis/etc. spam using the word “pilule” instead of “pill.” At first they’d just find misspellings for the drug name, but I guess some filters are blocking or scoring on “pill,” so they’ve substituted words for that…including the hilariously ironic “soft” as an abbreviation for “soft tabs.” (Comments on this post are going to give Akismet a workout, aren’t they?)

Anyway, I found it odd that so many different spams would use the same obfuscation, particularly since it looked like it was just adding letters. So I looked it up.

It turns out that pilule is a real word. According to Merriam-Webster, it entered the English language from French around 1543. Sadly, it doesn’t refer to a cute magical creature, but to a small pill — which means that (wonder of wonders) the spammers are actually using it correctly!

One question remained: was it simply an obscure word, or an archaic one? I did a search on Google Books and came up with mostly medical texts dating from the 19th century. Just about every match in the first 15 pages was either:

  • An English-language medical text published between 1830 and 1930.
  • French.

The few cases where I thought I’d found a more recent reference turned out to be reprints of older material.

So it looks like the word died out (in English, anyway) during the 20th century until spammers exhumed its corpse and pressed it into service.

Side Note: Twitterspam

On Friday, I posted the discovery to Twitter on @lol_spam, then retweeted it on KelsonV. Within 15 minutes, lol_spam picked up 45 new followers and KelsonV picked up 40. They were all obviously bots:

  • From the time that the second post was made, each of them followed both accounts, making it obvious they were automatically following based on a keyword search.
  • They all used the same scheme for the user name (first name + first 2 or 3 letters of last name + short number).
  • Many of them shared name components, as if a random generator were taking a list of first names and a list of last names and mixing them together.
  • None of them had posted a single tweet. I suspect that if I’d been foolish enough to follow any of them back, they would have started spamming me with links via direct message. (I caught a subtle one last week: someone had posted a series of inane tweets for the first couple of weeks, then switched to all tooth-whitening links.)
  • Several profile photos appeared on more than one account.
  • Many of them were following upwards of 1,000 users. (After the first few, I stopped looking at the numbers.)
  • All of them claimed to be women. (A majority? That I could believe. But every single one of them?)

I will give them credit for using ordinary-looking snapshots of women with a wide variety of appearances, rather than going for the lingerie, downblouse, outright nude (the spam filters are going to be busy, aren’t they?) and other sexy (or “sexy”) poses that usually show up on these. They actually looked like photos real people might use on their profiles.

Nice try, spambots.

@LOL_Spam: Sometimes You’ve Gotta Laugh

lol_spamSometimes you’ve just got to laugh, you know?

I remember getting my first piece of spam in college, in the days before anyone bothered with filters because spam was so rare, and thinking, “this could get bad.” Talk about the understatement of the decade! Since the mid-1990s, recipients and sysadmins have come up with more and more elaborate ways to block the annoyance, and the spammers have developed ever more convoluted ways to get around our filters.

And sometimes, those convolutions are frakking hilarious.

Weird word substitutions, funny misspellings (deliberate and otherwise), utter nonsense, creative euphemisms and more lurk in the world’s junk mail folders. Half of the spam category on this blog isn’t serious commentary — it’s examples of clueless or unintentionally funny quotes from actual spam.

All-New Spams Just For You!

These are all quotes (mostly subjects) from spam I’ve seen:

  • Pirate spam: first ten picks of the day in the marrrrrket
  • Ghost spam: Reeeeeeegaiiin your yooooouth with Humaaaaaaan Grooooowth Hoormooooooone!
  • Crazy spam: I’m looking for a good trans_universal transportation unit.
  • Recipe spam: The Zucchini Loaf recipe is not for me
  • Auto-spam: Sincerely, Random Name
  • Euphemism spam: Make your love torpedo drive all the way to her tanker.
  • Word Salad spam: Dear me, that evil car sensibly stung out of this suspicious slot tipps.
  • Not-What-They-Meant spam: The way to her heart is through her wrist
  • Random Star Trek spam: trill boxing
  • Book Quote spam: Mazrim Taim was one of those, raising an army and ravaging Saldaea before he was taken. [Believe it or not, this is not the only The Wheel of Time spam I’ve seen!]

A few weeks ago I realized most of these were really short, and I’d been posting them to Twitter. Why not set up a dedicated account for spam humor? So I set up @lol_spam and started posting the funnier subjects I came across, usually with a comment.

I was definitely inspired by the webcomic Spamusement, but I can’t draw worth beans. A line of snarky commentary? That I can do! And I was almost certainly influenced by artist Linzie Hunter’s Spam one-liner postcards, though I’d somehow forgotten about them until someone posted a link to the set yesterday.

How I Got 6 Followers on Twitter! (And You Can Too!)

Where am I getting the spam quotes?

  • Spam sent to me (most of it in the discards, fortunately).
  • Spam sent to the postmaster/admin accounts where I work.
  • Spam sent to our spamtraps.

I see a lot of spam, and I don’t want to simply flood people’s Twitter streams with, well, more of it, so I’m using FutureTweets to spread things out to a more manageable 1 or 2 posts per day. At the moment I’m almost 3 weeks ahead.

I’m also keeping an eye on a twitter search for “spam subject” and retweeting the funniest ones.

Bringing the Funny

So if you use Twitter, take a look at @lol_spam. Who knows? You just might laugh!

Launching LOL Spam

lol_spam

  • Does anyone actually start off email to friends with “Dear Friend”? #
  • All right! I always wanted one of those! “Delivery Status Notification 81% 0FF.” (spam subject) Who can resist at that discount? #
  • “Get rid of pests for good!” – if only it would work on the spammers themselves. #
  • That’s it! Time to find another surgeon! “The way to her heart is through her wrist.” (spam subject) #
  • Usually it’s the divorced parents using the kids against each other, not the other way around: “Use Mother Nature to beat Father Time” #

After posting these today, I’ve decided to set up a Twitter account dedicated to posting funny spam subjects & commentary. I plan to keep the traffic low – 1 or 2 posts a day. Please check out @lol_spam!