Periphery Demographic

Judging by the comment moderation queue, this blog is wildly popular among a certain niche audience.

Namely, spambots. Although I can't help but wonder why spammers are so incompetent. Of course spammers have no reason to put any effort into the marginal comment or email. The reason spam exists is precisely because in a magical land of near-zero marginal cost (like the internet), the unscrupulous can afford to send sales pitches to a million people even if only fifteen bite. But that doesn't mean spammers couldn't put a little fixed-cost effort into improving their algorithm for generating those millions of spams. At least conventional advertising is occasionally entertaining; in contrast, most of the spam I see is just noise, to the extent that it once gave me an idea (which I would not implement; it's not my style) for a Reddit novelty account: "CompetentSpammer" would write eloquent, insightful comments that ever-so-subtly worked in references to charm bracelets and sketchy pharmaceuticals.

I know, it sounds as if I'm complaining, but I'm not: we are all grateful that spam is so easily distinguished from actual content; I was only wondering.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, some commentary on spam comments submitted to this blog is below the break—

Would-be commenter "charms" writes on "Summing the Multinomial Coefficients":

I adore thomas family funeral home! I got my initial couple as soon as i was initially 10 yrs old, the sunlight yellow quite short old classic.Now i'm 15 yrs old nowadays and also, since after that, I have got as well received your ebony quite short old classic, your bleak quite short old classic, [...]

And it goes on like that for another ninety words. One wonders: is anyone really going to buy shoes or whatever based on a blog comment like that? Maybe, maybe fifteen out of a million ... which I guess was the point. But again, one imagines that there would be a payoff to spammers for being more discriminating—I guess some them are. I got a few attempted comments referring to Zack Snyder, so someone's at least paying attention to the URL.

I even got one attempted comment that sort-of looks on topic, maybe, if you don't look too closely? "Alexey" writes on "Interpolating Between Vectorized Green's Theorems":

Great! I see how to finish it off now, and I see why given the dftierenfial equation and being told to look at F and f you would see that relation, but just introducing F in the first place well, I guess I just have to accept this proof is awesome. =DYou asked for topic areas: Have you ever seen Euler's proof that the number of partitions of a number into odd numbers equals that of a number into distinct numbers? That is a good one. Other than that, some Galois theory would be nice?

The comment throws around a lot of math terminology, but if it has any non-coincidental relationship to my post, I don't see it. And the URL supplied just goes to a near-empty Facebook profile. What's even the motive here? Maybe I'm wrong to think of this as "spam", when it could be a genuine math enthusiast who's confused, or bad at commmunicating in English? Who can say but that, in the end, what we really hate are low-quality comments, and we don't care whether or not they're trying to sell us something? (See also xkcd #810.)

One thought on “Periphery Demographic

  1. I am glad that spam is so easily distinguishable. Two ideas come to mind: On the one hand, the actual absence of apparent effort put in making the spam realistically deceiving may conceal a very interesting fact. Namely, empirically spammers might have figured out that fooling someone who is not absolutely lacking in all sorts of coherent thinking saves *a lot of time*. How so? Well, say they deceived a moderately clever person... then they'd have to actually deal with him/her, and keep up a difficult show to maintain.

    The other thing that comes to mind is... that the same principle may apply to the world's religions. To the initiated, they are not worthy challenges... their epistemic grounding is just so awfully problematic that they can't even be moderately deceived. Again, this might have instrumental value from the point of view of the survival of the meme. Also, thank God we don't have realistically-looking religions!

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