suspicious questions? June 3, 2008 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Just thought I'd mention that I noticed a couple of questions in askme that all had to do with ferreting out techniques people use to get around spam filters and the like.

mind you, I'm not trying to cast aspersions on any of the people who asked those questions. It's entirely possible that every single one of them is legitimate. It simply occurred to me that perhaps the SEO and spam types have decided to ask metafilter how to get around their problems with innocent sounding questions. Am I just being paranoid?
posted by shmegegge to Etiquette/Policy at 10:45 AM (72 comments total)

A bit paranoid, I think. These questions are pretty much pre-school stuff for any SEO/spammer type.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:48 AM on June 3, 2008


I think they're all legit.

By the way, can you take a look at my website? Some of my patrons have been complaining that the site is difficult to navigate, particularly the "About Us" and "Mission Statement" sections. But what really gets my patrons is that some times the ad-links are not clickable, and the order page (we sell all kinds of great stuff!!!! It really works!!!) is buggy. Feedback would be appreciated!
posted by jabberjaw at 10:52 AM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


You're being paranoid. Which isn't so bad, though Metatalking your paranoia might be a little socially touchy insofar as it's a little hard to completely not cast aspersions when pointing at something as being potentially a ban-and-tar-and-feather offense. It's probably a good first step in general to drop us a line and see if we've noticed and looked into smelly stuff, just to avoid unnecessary public theater when the situation is ambiguous.

As mods we're pretty paranoid too by necessity, and don't mind being paranoid for you, so if something looks weird you can drop us a line and we'll take a close (or closer) look, to see if anything hinky is up.

There's no way to bulletproof the site against malicious jerkoffs posing innocent questions, but that's kind of the cost of doing business on AskMe. We catch what we can, though; there was a pretty Karnofskian puppetshow a couple days ago that stunk to high heaven but which I only nailed down for sure like three days after we heard about it from a few users.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:59 AM on June 3, 2008


Welcome to Unnecessary Public Theater!

Tonight's performance is a modern adaptation of the classic Merchant of Penise. Enjoy the show, and please remain seated until the house lights come up.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:11 AM on June 3, 2008


As mods we're pretty paranoid too by necessity, and don't mind being paranoid for you, so if something looks weird you can drop us a line and we'll take a close (or closer) look, to see if anything hinky is up.

Sweet! What the fuck is up with my neighbors? They're freaking me out, and I'm pretty sure they're up to something bad.

Also, I think something bad's going down at the Montessori over on Lyndale. Could you check 'er out?
posted by COBRA! at 11:12 AM on June 3, 2008


I'm sorry cortex, but that's just not good enough. I demand action.
posted by shmegegge at 11:13 AM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does Unnecessary Public Theatre always have a Karnoskian puppetshow before the main act?
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:16 AM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kirth Gerson beat me to it, but ...

Metatalk: Unnecessary public theater when the situation is ambiguous.
posted by lukemeister at 11:17 AM on June 3, 2008


I was a little "eh" about these but I there's always enough people chiming in in-thread to be like "you might be a spammer if...." that I'm not too worried. cortex is right, we're paranoid, and sometimes we're right too.

I demand action.

You will not be getting any. Action.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:22 AM on June 3, 2008 [4 favorites]


Forget about those!! What about the one where they're going to kidnap a baby? Oh, they SAY it's their baby, but you never can tell!!1
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:25 AM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


You will not be getting any. Action.

however, you will get served.
posted by heeeraldo at 11:25 AM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I demand action

for a good time call cortex's mom 503.555.1234
posted by dersins at 11:25 AM on June 3, 2008


No, that's her old number, you have to call her cellph—HEY WAIT A MINUTE
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:27 AM on June 3, 2008 [8 favorites]


I noticed a user this morning who seemed a bit suspicious, but there's not much to go on other than his username, unnecessary emoticons, and exactly three rapid-fire comments. Which is why I didn't make a post to MeTa. Or did I?

This thread does, a bit, remind me of my grandma, who spies on her new neighbors constantly. She thinks she's being sneaky, but it must be hilarious to see her peeking out the window all day long. They've been living there a month and they haven't bought any furniture yet!
posted by uncleozzy at 11:27 AM on June 3, 2008


Ha! You all thought I was trying to callout those three askme questions! Shows what you know! I actually posted this because I... was... trying to bring attention... to...

LOOK OVER THERE!
posted by shmegegge at 11:28 AM on June 3, 2008


I noticed a user this morning who seemed a bit suspicious, but there's not much to go on other than his username, unnecessary emoticons, and exactly three rapid-fire comments. Which is why I didn't make a post to MeTa. Or did I?

I'm pretty sure I know who you're talking about, and I've gotten a couple mefimails about him already, and I've pretty much set a date on my calendar to watch him self-link—but yeah, until there's a problem, there isn't a problem. Whee!

posted by cortex (staff) at 11:30 AM on June 3, 2008


I've pretty much set a date on my calendar to watch him self-link

What sad, sad lives we lead.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:34 AM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Do we have no alternative but to go to the black hats and rent squadrons of Zombie computers to send out our cheery newsletters?

I don't care. I just want to rant at "opt-in" emailers. Please don't do that. No one ever really "opts in" for these things unless they're confused. Get a blog. If I'm sufficiently captivated by your message I'll visit your blog.

The above does not apply to moderated email listservs, which are inherently user-controlled and therefore not part of the "bulk email" problem.
posted by loquacious at 11:34 AM on June 3, 2008


for a good time call cortex's mom 503.555.1234

Hey, that's not his mom's phone number!
posted by loquacious at 11:37 AM on June 3, 2008


What sad, sad lives we lead.
posted by uncleozzy at 2:34 PM


At least cortex gets paid to do things like that, the rest of us...
posted by marxchivist at 11:38 AM on June 3, 2008


for a good time call cortex's mom 503.555.1234

$20 for the first minute, $20 each additional minute, same as in town.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:42 AM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know who else acted suspiciously?

WILLIAM SHATNER! I mean, come on, you call that acting?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:47 AM on June 3, 2008


for a good time call cortex's mom 503.555.1234

For a long time I've thought a really interesting project would be to bring a cellphone to one of those bathrooms with a lot of "for a good time" numbers on the walls and actually call each and every one of them. Performance art piece, or evidence at a criminal harassment trial, you decide.
posted by Forktine at 11:55 AM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Forktine, the thing to do would be to make the calls, and then write an update on the wall under the original note.

"NUMBER IS NOT CONNECTED"

"RESIDENT ACTUALLY NAMED 'GREG', DOES NOT KNOW A 'CANDY', MOVED IN IN LAST SIX MONTHS, DID NOT MEET PREVIOUS TENANT"

"IS IN FACT INTERESTED IN GOOD TIME, WILL UPDATE AGAIN SOON - LATE UPDATE, WAS ACTUALLY A MAN IN A DRESS, BUT VERY POLITE"
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:57 AM on June 3, 2008 [22 favorites]


This thread does, a bit, remind me of my grandma, who spies on her new neighbors constantly.

I have some very cool neighbors on one side of my house who share my love of bird watching. One day I had a spotting scope set up next to my house pointed at their trees, and I was sitting next to it with my camera and a 300mm lens. I was hoping to catch this particular male cardinal who had been hanging around. My neighbors were in and out of their back yard, and we passed a few greetings about how the hunting was going.

I didn't think much more of it till I noticed a car going kind of slow down our street watching me. I'm sure from their perspective, it must have seemed a bit strange, what with a guy armed with numerous surveillance devices sitting out in the open, make no effort to hide that he was spying on his neighbor's house.

My neighbors thought this was hysterically funny. Of course, they were quite drunk at the time.

I have some photos to prove it.
posted by quin at 12:03 PM on June 3, 2008


the thing to do would be to make the calls, and then write an update on the wall under the original note

Yes, this kind of thing happens very often. For example, someone might decide to write "Kevin Rules" on a bathroom wall. Someone else with more knowledge on the subject might cross out "Rules" and replace it with "Is Gay".

It's similar to Wikipedia, but with a stronger urine smell.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:04 PM on June 3, 2008 [9 favorites]


It's similar to Wikipedia, but with a stronger urine smell.

burnmp3s,
Can you take this thread to the Yellow, please?
posted by lukemeister at 12:07 PM on June 3, 2008


The best bathroom graffiti I ever saw is still "TOY STORY 2 WAS OKAY."
posted by danb at 12:07 PM on June 3, 2008 [6 favorites]


Pictures of your photos or it didn't happen, quin.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:08 PM on June 3, 2008


The most adorable graffiti I've seen is painted in huge letters on a bridge near my parents' house: Seriously I love Sara a lot.
posted by Pax at 12:10 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


when I was in school, someone made what can an only be called an herculean effort to write "Mike Mahan has gingivitis" all over every men's bathroom on campus. It didn't matter if it was a stall, urinal, mirror, empty wall over the towel dispenser... if you had a chance to stare at it during your time in the bathroom, chances are that right at eye level it said in tiny but completely legible script it said "Mike Mahan has gingivitis." I later found out it was some friend of mine who couldn't for the life of me recall why he started doing it, but the weird thing was that no one on campus had any idea who Mike Mahan was. When I found out my friend had been responsible I asked him who the fuck Mike Mahan was, and he said "Just some random dude. He graduated when I was a freshman." Now, at my graduation, I excused myself to go to a bathroom near the big ol' tent erected for the occasion, and I was very drunk. So when another guy came in, and I looked up at the wall in front of me and noticed a Mike Mahan graffito, I slurred out, "Hey! Did you know that Mike Mahan has gingivitis?!" thinking this was my last chance to make conversation out of this.

The guy replied "What?"

"Mike Mahan. He apparently has gingivitis."

"Do I know you?"

"Oh, sorry, dude. I'm drunk. Forgot I shouldn't be making conversation at the john."

"But why are you talking about me? I don't have gingivitis."

"No fucking way."

"What?"

I didn't know what to say. How do you tell Prince Albert that he's a phone prank? How do you tell Napoleon he's a complex? I couldn't do it. I zipped up, washed, and ran the fuck out of there. Never saw him again.
posted by shmegegge at 12:19 PM on June 3, 2008 [15 favorites]


Mike Mahan has gingivitis

I believe you can also get athlete's foot showering at his place.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:31 PM on June 3, 2008


Would you say I have gingivitis?
...
Shmegegge, what is gingivitis?
posted by Pax at 12:42 PM on June 3, 2008


Why, Pax?
posted by shmegegge at 12:45 PM on June 3, 2008


Anal Cunt apparently has a song called "Mike Mahan has gingivitis".
posted by puke & cry at 12:47 PM on June 3, 2008


Maybe, but he sucks a mean cock.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:48 PM on June 3, 2008


Well, you told me I (and Mike Mahan) have gingivitis. And I just would like to know if you know what gingivitis is. I would not like to think that a person would tell someone we have gingivitis, and then find out that that person has *no idea* what it means to have gingivitis. (or who the hell Mike Mahan is).

Seriously, I love Schmegegge a lot.
posted by Pax at 12:50 PM on June 3, 2008


I didn't know what to say. How do you tell Prince Albert that he's a phone prank? How do you tell Napoleon he's a complex?

Great, now he's going to Google his name and his head'll really be fucked.
posted by loquacious at 12:58 PM on June 3, 2008


Three Amigos quotes in two separate metatalk threads? What's going on here today?

On another note, my favorite graffiti was on a hand blow dryer in a bathroom at Hurricane Ridge, by Seattle. Someone scratched in the words "Press button for Bush speech."
posted by inigo2 at 1:02 PM on June 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


Someone scratched in the words "Press button for Bush speech."

There need to be mass produced hand dryer button sized circular stickers for this.
posted by shmegegge at 1:03 PM on June 3, 2008


Three Amigos quotes in two separate metatalk threads? What's going on here today?

I don't know, but you killed my father, prepare to die.
posted by Pax at 1:06 PM on June 3, 2008


Anal Cunt apparently has a song called "Mike Mahan has gingivitis".

They've got a number of songs about Mike, who I believe used to be in the band. I saw Anal Cunt a few years back--2001 or 2002--upstairs at the Middle East in Cambridge. If you haven't been there, it's a reasonably small dive bar with a small stage up front.

As they take the stage, singer Seth Putnam--who is a big dude, and a Jew, if memory serves--is wearing a swastika armband and leading the crowd in a rousing "heil Hitler" chant. Of course, this being a grindcore show, there are two or three guys up front, whose combined weight almost certainly breaks the half-ton mark, saluting and chanting along in a very serious manner. Very serious.

As the show goes on, these gentlemen are moshing with increased intensity, putting in serious peril not only other concertgoers, but also the structural integrity of the building. Seth notices that these guys seem to be clearing a half-circle around the front of the stage and offers to kick one of them in the face.

"You want me to kick you in the face?"
"Yeah, sure!"
"No, seriously, I'm going to fucking kick you in the face."
"Haha, fuck yeah!"


You can see how this might end. Nose bloodied, and emboldened by cheap beer, the mosher gets into Seth's face--as much as he could, given the vertical offset afforded by the stage--and proceeds to hassle him. There is an exchange of words, perhaps a meeting of the minds, and, amazingly, Seth gives the fellow $10 for his troubles.

A few minutes later, Seth vomits onto the microphone while singing, picks up his bottle of Jack Daniel's, and keeps on going. That's what AC are all about.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:10 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mods: Being paranoid, so you don't have to.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:16 PM on June 3, 2008


I don't know, but you killed my father, prepare to die.

Eh, your father killed my father first. Plus, he had six fingers on his right hand -- freak.
posted by inigo2 at 1:16 PM on June 3, 2008


for a good time call cortex's mom 503.555.1234

Last time I was over there it was waaay too crowded. Total sausage fest. Serious hairy-bobbing-man-ass everywhere.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:27 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Plus, he had six fingers on his right hand -- freak.

Here's something funny and totally true (I swear on the soul of my father). My real father was born with six fingers on each hand. And six toes on each foot.

No more movie quotes now, I mean it!
posted by Pax at 1:36 PM on June 3, 2008


Anybody want a peanut?
posted by loquacious at 1:38 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I played a gig opening for AC once in some dump somewhere in Massachusetts. I was filling in on bass in some sort of hardcore band whose songs where all more or less identical, and blessedly short, but the only important thing was you had to remember when to do the big slide on bass before the mosh part on the one song or the guitarist would get pissed, and the drummer would get badly confused for the remaining, like, 18 seconds of the song, but my god you can play a lot of seriously inappropriate drums in 18 seconds. Anyway you'd think something like that would stick with you a little more, but somehow my memory of the occasion is well on the blurry side of not-very-clear-at-all.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:41 PM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


That was awesome, loquacious.
posted by nevercalm at 1:45 PM on June 3, 2008


Is this racist?
posted by kittyprecious at 1:50 PM on June 3, 2008


Here's something funny and totally true (I swear on the soul of my father). My real father was born with six fingers on each hand. And six toes on each foot.

Well now I feel bad about using the word "freak". I didn't mean it, I'm sorry.

posted by inigo2 at 1:51 PM on June 3, 2008


No, it's funny. They cut them off shortly after birth. Just funny given the PB discussion. No offense taken at all.
posted by Pax at 1:53 PM on June 3, 2008


Freak.
posted by Pax at 1:54 PM on June 3, 2008


Please keep in mind that "only 555-0100 through 555-0199 are specifically reserved for fictional use."

That's my mother's phone number.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 1:55 PM on June 3, 2008


Speaking of freaks, this is an underrated movie.
posted by inigo2 at 1:56 PM on June 3, 2008


no, that movie's rated quite accurately.
posted by shmegegge at 1:58 PM on June 3, 2008


Yeah that movie is pretty terrible, actually.
posted by puke & cry at 2:02 PM on June 3, 2008


You people are crazy. It's got Brooke Shields AND Mr. T!
posted by inigo2 at 2:05 PM on June 3, 2008


mean cock

* cries *
posted by baby_jessamyn at 2:23 PM on June 3, 2008


Please keep in mind that "only 555-0100 through 555-0199 are specifically reserved for fictional use."

I think Metafilter doesn't need to make Mom jokes about adopted kids. Let's not stoop that low.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:30 PM on June 3, 2008


wow, so here's me never having noticed the kind of creepy baby_jessamyn account before.
posted by shmegegge at 2:31 PM on June 3, 2008


HATE IS THE ONLY ENEMY + kentucky
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 2:39 PM on June 3, 2008


"wow, so here's me never having noticed the kind of creepy baby_jessamyn account before."

With an average of 2 comments a year, for the past 7 years, its no wonder.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 2:44 PM on June 3, 2008


Must be a take on the "makes baby Jesus cry" meme.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:47 PM on June 3, 2008


That's an adorable baby banhammer, baby jess.
posted by ormondsacker at 3:47 PM on June 3, 2008


They've been living there a month and they haven't bought any furniture yet!

OMG, terrorists!!! Or worse -- poor people.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 3:50 PM on June 3, 2008


That's an adorable baby banhammer, baby jess.

I have it on good authority that Greg Nog drew that. FROM MEMORY.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:52 PM on June 3, 2008


Yep, all she does is cry.
posted by MythMaker at 3:59 PM on June 3, 2008


My office phone number is 867-5555 — it's usually assumed to be fake without a disclaimer stating otherwise. We own '5309' as well, but it's currently disconnected because of the hassle.
posted by blasdelf at 11:19 PM on June 3, 2008


You should totally route 5309 to a voicemail box that says "Thank you for calling. Unfortunately Jenny was in a terrible accident recently, and will not ever be ah-ah-ah-ahnswering phones e-e-e-ever again *sob*sob*sob*", and then don't let it record messages.

That would be awesome.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:59 AM on June 4, 2008




I should add that I'm pleased as punch that New Hampshire's Jenny is among the best (603-867-5309)
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:57 AM on June 4, 2008


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