How much more stupid can E-Mail spam get?

My spam filters are cool. Really cool. They catch about 90% of the spam without me ever seeing any of the crap at all. Such mails go straight to the Deleted Mails folder. The few spam mails that still get through are so easy to discover that I just look for a split-second at the subject of the mail, before I hit the Delete key.

Every now and then, just out of curiosity, I have a look at the garbage that invades my mailbox (and also the blog comments, by the way) relentlessly, every hour of the day, every day of the year. And I wonder – how much more stupid can E-Mail spam get? I mean, if someone sends me this…

From: “Laurel”
To: <mark@zanzig.net>
Subject: Dark Hfaired HOTGLIRLS Smucks & Gqets Mcuffdived
Date: Tuesday, 27/02/2007 09:05

You brain shall be your servant instead of your master, You will rule it instead of allowing it to rule you.

Blond TTEENS Toeen Sihows Bqusty Bdoobs Pcosing
http://some.spamdomain.tld/d1/p3/8/6/

Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.

…then I am seriously worried about his or her state of brain. Apparently they are aware of this, because they clearly write: “You brain [I guess they mean Your brain] shall be your servant instead of your master”. Yes, you are so right. It is my servant, and it serves me perfectly by saying: “Mark, this is just spam. They don’t mean you personally. They can’t even write correct English.” Shouldn’t it read: “Blond Teen Shows Busty Boobs Posing”? That is how many mistakes in one sentence? Six! And if you count the duplicate word (“TTEENS”) it’s seven! That is seven mistakes in a sentence of seven words. Wow – an average of one mistake per word! I wonder who on earth clicks on such links? Certainly it must be only the most stupid persons who do. I don’t.

The second current fad that often passes my filter are the image-only spam mails, like this one from abcpill.com:

Spammy Ad for Abcpill.com

You probably have seen this as well. Now, I have seen the development of image ads. First, the spammers realized that it was useless to send text mails as these were caught by the filters – as a reaction some of the spammers decided to go for the grammatically incorrect way / see above. The other group went down the “image only” path. They just put the text into an image and easily passed the filters. But the filters got better and better and started to OCR the images. So they added those colored pixels to the image to disturb the OCR filters. A few weeks later even this was caught by the scanners, and now they come animated. Unfortunately, even I have a hard time reading the message now. No wonder the OCRs are getting confused.

Then again, the spammers forget one clear point – usability. Even for them the law of usability is as valid as for any other web-based business: if it is not easy-to-use, forget about it. Yes, I can hardly read the message, but more important: they present a link to me (bold, blue, underlined – that must be a link) but it doesn’t work. I can’t click it! For 99.99% of all other links in my browser this works, with these guys it doesn’t! So they have to tell me the truth: “Do not click, type in your browser www.abcpill.com”. C’mon – this breaks the user interface: I have to open a new browser window (I am in my mail program, you know), type in the address, and see what comes up? They must be kidding.

So I wanted to know how well they are actually doing, traffic-wise. I had a brief look at their Alexa ranking. Woo-hoo, their traffic rank is 4,804,046 (3 mos. average) as of today – which is nothing compared to my site (460,126). Agreed, the spam wave has done its magic, and they see a one-week average of 1,101,492 – but still I doubt that many people actually click the spam mail. Err, yes, they may click, but that -as we now know- doesn’t work, so – anyway, you get the idea. Just imagine zillions of men sitting in front of their email, clicking that ad and turning away, saying “heck, that link doesn’t work”! :-)

The main question to me is – if spam is not working at all, why do spammers actually keep spamming? Why do they clog up the entire Internet with their useless, unwanted, unneeded, and grammatically incorrect ads?

One Response to “How much more stupid can E-Mail spam get?”

  1. Chris says:

    I know how you feel, but the sad fact is that only ONE person for every million spam e-mails sent out has to buy the product being spamvertised for it to be PROFITABLE.