What the spam is this? June 10, 2009 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Is this question/user serious?

Why do I feel like this user is trying to ask MeFi how to send all sorts of spam? Is this acceptable on MeFi?

I mean can someone actually poll MeFites THESE questions so they can become more effective spammers?

Not trying to be a pain or anything, but as soon as I read that question, I thought "Oh shit...the beginnings of a spammer". Looking at his profile and previous questions pretty much confirmed it, and made it obvious that he's using the hive mind to poll a large group of people.
posted by hal_c_on to Etiquette/Policy at 8:42 AM (66 comments total)

He wants to spam 650 people? What is your confirmation in his past history? That he asked about money-making, and provided three options, none of which is spamming? That he asked about viagra?
posted by smackfu at 8:46 AM on June 10, 2009


I don't get the impression that this guy is a spammer, no. His question history is chockablock with stuff that gives me more an impression of young-and-clueless than anything.

I can see the hinkiness factor on a couple of his ask topics, but people sometimes ask about stuff that seems hinky without being mercenary baddies or whatever, and there's not really anything in his history that suggests he's up to much of anything. That could change eventually, who knows what the guy's interests/motivations are, but there's really nothing actionable about "this guy may, in theory, at some point do something bad".

We keep an eye out for spam/skeeve pretty much constantly, and the real stuff generally stinks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:53 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read the question as "how do I send email to everyone in my address book" which could be spam or could be not-spam. And really if he were some sort of an effective scam artist the male enhancement question would have gone much differently than it did. The fact that that question wasn't a huge miserable disaster sort of makes me be all "yay" about how useful AskMe is relative to the rest of the seething qanda webworld.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:55 AM on June 10, 2009


Maybe the user wants to get rid of his military/hipster jacket? As long as he doesn't try to sell it to me, on MetaFilter, I'm OK with it. No herbal male enhancement supplements for me either, thx.
posted by not_on_display at 8:56 AM on June 10, 2009


It seems to me that the things that kinda clueless people are normally afraid to ask about (and would turn to Internet strangers to get answers for) are the things that spammers prey on- like, for example, male enhancement.
If you look at the order of the questions, I think it's pretty clear it's a real poster- the "grace period" question, the birth control question, and the 'male enhancement' question all follow in logical chronological order, for example.

It does kind of annoy me when people just ask questions and don't contribute to the site, but that's certainly not being a spammer.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:00 AM on June 10, 2009


To be fair, the stuff he sent me really did enhance my maleness. You probably noticed me answering many more questions in AskMe without any knowledge or context.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:04 AM on June 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


I thought spammer too, but I looked at his history and it's all... I don't know... I guess, whatever. Looks like someone's going to get pregnant while trying to make some money on the side fixing their credit score and maybe doing all this while wearing a military jacket. It came across as clueless kid more than malicious spammer. But... who knows. This is why I hide my email address in my profile.

If he ends up spamming MeFites, I'll stay tuned for the MeTa where we jab him with our pitchforks.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:05 AM on June 10, 2009


Quanda?
posted by adamdschneider at 9:06 AM on June 10, 2009


Sorry, qanda. Still don't understand.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:07 AM on June 10, 2009


I know I have managed to avoid asking direction for **MUCH** longer after use of this product.
posted by edgeways at 9:07 AM on June 10, 2009


His question history is chockablock with stuff that gives me more an impression of young-and-clueless than anything.

Funny story, my cousin who is about 19 or so emailed me a few months back and was basically all "hey, you make money on the internet, how do I do that?" When I answered it takes hours of hard work on something you're passionate about every day and years of dedication building a name for yourself online, he just replied with "huh, money doesn't come in right away? That won't work for me then, thanks." and that was that.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:08 AM on June 10, 2009 [36 favorites]


Your cousin thought you were a Nigerian Western Union scammer?
posted by jerseygirl at 9:10 AM on June 10, 2009


There are plenty of spamming solutions, and his rate of adding addresses is really slow for spamming. Consider the fact that spammers make their profits off of a very slim margin of the total messages sent. Unless this guy is hand-picking his targets, it sounds like a valid question on how to reach a growing group of connections.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:10 AM on June 10, 2009


A "seething qanda" is an easily disturbed marsupial of the wombat family. It's widely used as an epithet in parts of VT. Everyone knows this.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:10 AM on June 10, 2009


What program can I use to send more than 500 people for free?

This one?

"Crazy way to travel, spreading a man's molecules all over the universe."
posted by googly at 9:16 AM on June 10, 2009


Seething Qanda WebWorld is a great game, although the seething could have been toned down a bit for the kid version. Still, they love the qandas and sharing them with the world, via the web.
posted by DU at 9:17 AM on June 10, 2009


Q&A. Sorry, I am incredibly acronym-using tool sometimes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:17 AM on June 10, 2009


Maybe I'm wrong, and I need to lower my threshold on "Hey, that ain't right!". Well off to city hall for my daily teabagging duties!
posted by hal_c_on at 9:18 AM on June 10, 2009


I am looking for making some favorites on the side
posted by Dumsnill at 9:23 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


No? Too easy? That won't work for me then.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:26 AM on June 10, 2009


> Not trying to be a pain or anything, but as soon as I read that question, I thought "Oh shit...the beginnings of a spammer".

Twice in the past three months I've had earnest clients ask me if there's any easier way they can handle their weekly and monthly email newsletters. In both cases their office worker has spent a couple hours a week sending their newsletters to hundreds or thousands of opted-in recipients in batches of 50 through Outlook Express. In one case they'd been doing this for years.

They had no idea what batch mailing tools or CRM tools were, and neither realized that they had batch mailing tools available for free through their hosting services.

So, no, the question doesn't sound hinky to me in the slightest.
posted by ardgedee at 9:30 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Funny story, my cousin who is about 19 or so emailed me a few months back and was basically all "hey, you make money on the internet, how do I do that?" When I answered it takes hours of hard work on something you're passionate about every day and years of dedication building a name for yourself online, he just replied with "huh, money doesn't come in right away? That won't work for me then, thanks." and that was that.
posted by mathowie at 9:08 AM on June 10


Coming Soon: Todd Haughey's meta-filter.com, brought to you by Sony and cheapPharmacy.ru!
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:30 AM on June 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


...office worker has spent a couple hours a week sending their newsletters to hundreds or thousands of opted-in recipients in batches of 50 through Outlook Express.

At a previous job, I had a marketing person come down and ask how to send mass email but hide the recipients from each other and make it look like it had been sent to "Valued Customer". This was through Exchange and there wasn't a really good way at the time (and knowing MS, likely still isn't).

Since I love re-inventing wheels, I looked into the SMTP RFC and coded up my own solution in Visual Basic (which was marginally less uncool then than it is now). However, when I realized that it worked and was unstoppable, I did something that technologists rarely do: thought about the ethical implications of putting this into the hands of Marketing.

When the marketer came back down to ask about it, I told her it was a technical impossibility.
posted by DU at 9:41 AM on June 10, 2009 [13 favorites]


Spammers start their careers young, before blowing out their knees and retiring on a golf course ten years later. It is the Way of the Spam.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:43 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


> It does kind of annoy me when people just ask questions and don't contribute to the site, but that's certainly not being a spammer.

I'll never understand this attitude. The site is for people to get answers to their questions. There are no requirements aside from the $5 and the waiting period; it's specifically so that people who need answers can get them. They have no obligation, legal or moral, to "contribute to the site" otherwise; they've paid their money. Where do people get off assuming they should go sweep the hallways and clean the dishes in penance for their daring to do what the site is set up for them to do?

Furthermore, the whole "you should contribute by answering other people's questions" thing is one of the tributaries that flows into the giant river of pulled-out-of-the-ass nonanswers in AskMe, which is a far bigger problem than people asking questions without answering them, even if for some bizarre reason you think that's a problem.
posted by languagehat at 10:13 AM on June 10, 2009 [15 favorites]


They have no obligation, legal or moral...they've paid their money.

Just like the Good Book says: It's easy for a rich man to get into heaven, if they pay $$$ for their sins.
posted by DU at 10:21 AM on June 10, 2009


languagehat, you have a point with the pulled-out-of-the-ass questions.
And to be honest, even questions from noncontributing members (I always thought the $5 was more as a rabblefilter than a major supporter of the site) can help other people with the same problem later.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:31 AM on June 10, 2009


"Just like the Good Book says: It's easy for a rich man to get into heaven, if they pay $$$ for their sins".
and pass through the eye of a needle. FTFY.
posted by Cranberry at 10:39 AM on June 10, 2009


Want to know the best method of birth control?
Want to learn how to fix your credit score?
Want to learn about the best male enhancement?
Want to make some extra money on the side?

This guy's posting history looks like my spam folder. His desire to email 650 people at once just makes the necessary link. I can see why the alarm bells are going off. And the hipster jacket - the image is just too rich.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:55 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


The fun we could have just looking at people's AskMe histories and inventing a story that ties them together.
posted by smackfu at 10:57 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


du, i did that for a while for a medical association using outlook and excel. it's called a mail merge. might clog up yr server, though.
posted by lester at 11:04 AM on June 10, 2009


"I'll never understand this attitude. The site is for people to get answers to their questions. There are no requirements aside from the $5 and the waiting period; it's specifically so that people who need answers can get them. They have no obligation, legal or moral, to "contribute to the site" otherwise; they've paid their money. Where do people get off assuming they should go sweep the hallways and clean the dishes in penance for their daring to do what the site is set up for them to do?

Furthermore, the whole "you should contribute by answering other people's questions" thing is one of the tributaries that flows into the giant river of pulled-out-of-the-ass nonanswers in AskMe, which is a far bigger problem than people asking questions without answering them, even if for some bizarre reason you think that's a problem.
"

It's easy to understand the attitude if you conceptualize AskMe as a community, and see folks who just ask as receiving the benefit of the community without working in it—it's a classic free rider problem. If you extrapolate that behavior, then there are thousands of questions and no answers, something that no one wants.

I can agree that this isn't likely, but I'll also note that I make more of an effort when I see a contact's question pop up on the green (or someone who's answered my questions) than I do when it's a stranger, and I don't think this is totally unfathomable.
posted by klangklangston at 11:06 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


However, when I realized that it worked and was unstoppable, I did something that technologists rarely do: thought about the ethical implications of putting this into the hands of Marketing.

Oh, Marketing would just think of a way to fuck it up anyway.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:20 AM on June 10, 2009


500 in the To: field
500 in the CC: field
500 in the BCC: field.

$20 SAIT.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:20 AM on June 10, 2009


smackfu: Paranoid cheapskate involved in tax schemes and manipulating the stock market. But has good taste in beer.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:21 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fun we could have just looking at people's AskMe histories and inventing a story that ties them together.

You could probably write a pretty decent biography of me based on my AskMe questions and answers alone.
posted by desjardins at 11:23 AM on June 10, 2009


And that's the thing, klangklangston: The great thing about Metafilter is the community. When people sign up and just ask questions, I get the feeling they don't really care about the rest of us and we're being used.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:27 AM on June 10, 2009


Then I saw the qanda, creeping through the green,
Cutting through the tangle with jessamyn its queen
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:27 AM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


"the rest of the seething qanda webworld" (jessamyn)

I definitely read "qanda" as being pronounced kwanda. Which is kind of an excellent word.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:29 AM on June 10, 2009


Is this user serious?

Well, sure. Everyone's serious sometimes.
posted by liketitanic at 11:49 AM on June 10, 2009


I definitely read "qanda" as being pronounced kwanda. Which is kind of an excellent word.

It took me a quick second to think over whether she meant something along the lines of Kwanza. Then I thought maybe she's using some other chic Swahili word. Cuz she's all Bohemian and stuff.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:51 AM on June 10, 2009


Seething Quanda Webworld
good death metal band name?
posted by Night_owl at 11:59 AM on June 10, 2009


Bohemians would use one of those chic Czech words. I like "Pivo" myself.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:59 AM on June 10, 2009


And that's the thing, klangklangston: The great thing about Metafilter is the community. When people sign up and just ask questions, I get the feeling they don't really care about the rest of us and we're being used.

what is this car

i need 2 know
posted by odinsdream at 12:05 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


smackfu: Paranoid cheapskate involved in tax schemes and manipulating the stock market. But has good taste in beer.

Thanks. Now I'm depressed at how accurate that is.
posted by smackfu at 12:20 PM on June 10, 2009


out of curiosity, have there been spammy answers getting deleted in this guy's threads on a pretty regular basis? as in, he asks the question, and then another user chimes in to go "oh well you should go to freeviagra.ru for the solution to your problems!" and then a mod deletes that?

because i'm really finding it hard to believe that someone could innocently start an account that exists only to ask about male enhancement, debt consolidation, credit ratings and other spammy topics without being some kind of account designed to open up opportunities for other users to make spammy links.
posted by shmegegge at 12:30 PM on June 10, 2009


the paranoid implication there being "other users that are also run by this guy and/or his associates."
posted by shmegegge at 12:30 PM on June 10, 2009


out of curiosity, have there been spammy answers getting deleted in this guy's threads on a pretty regular basis?

Don't think so, we'd be on the lookout for that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:31 PM on June 10, 2009


Yeah, that guy would have been banned and called a douche on twitter long ago if there was even a hint of that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:35 PM on June 10, 2009


damn, and here I was trying to be all matlock and shit.
posted by shmegegge at 12:37 PM on June 10, 2009


To be fair, the stuff he sent me really did enhance my maleness. You probably noticed me answering many more questions in AskMe without any knowledge or context.

Same here. But I was the one answering questions without using my hands to type.
posted by tommasz at 1:13 PM on June 10, 2009


Ew.
posted by jerseygirl at 1:17 PM on June 10, 2009


I would like you to keep your newsletter very very far away from me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:21 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


what is this car

i need 2 know
posted by odinsdream at 12:05 PM on June 10


cheers mate now what is this car

okay now what is this car

thank you what is this car

"why are you asking what all these cars are?"

we play a game on another forum where we guess cars

"doesn't this kind of defeat the purpose?"

no i like to know what the car is
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:38 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I needed an answer to this very question myself at one point. I was promoting for a party and had thousands of people I wanted to send emails to. It's not hard to get to that many legitimately if you're collecting email addresses from people regularly.
posted by empath at 2:20 PM on June 10, 2009


So a the answer to your qanda storage problems is a qandarie?
posted by ooga_booga at 4:04 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


damn, and here I was trying to be all matlock and shit.

Oh, you totally were, you just weren't accounting for the fact that we have the whole DVD box set at the office.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:53 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Neat. I just got the Murder She Wrote box set. Want trade when we're finished?
posted by item at 5:55 PM on June 10, 2009


Optimus Chyme: "Coming Soon: Todd Haughey's meta-filter.com, brought to you by Sony and cheapPharmacy.ru!"

They even have a professional Formica background!
posted by Rhaomi at 8:10 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


languagehat writes "They have no obligation, legal or moral, to 'contribute to the site' otherwise; they've paid their money. Where do people get off assuming they should go sweep the hallways and clean the dishes in penance for their daring to do what the site is set up for them to do?"

I don't really have a problem with people just asking questions in AskMe. I wish they'd toss an occasional comment on the front page just to show a pulse but, meh, what are you going to do? What drives me crazy are the users who have dozens of questions and _no_ comments. Cripes kick back a status update every once and a while to provide some feedback on whether the answers were useful. Make some clarifications. Mark a best answer. Hit the favourite button. Fill in your country field. Make a tiny effort to not be 100% leech.
posted by Mitheral at 8:21 PM on June 10, 2009


I needed an answer to this very question myself at one point. I was promoting for a party and had thousands of people I wanted to send emails to. It's not hard to get to that many legitimately if you're collecting email addresses from people regularly.

This was my assumption in answering the question. I have a hard time imagining a serious spammer messing with a paltry 650-email list, much less only adding 10-20 addresses per month. Plus, my suggestion (a Mailman list on shared hosting) would allow users to manage their own subscriptions, so it's pretty much impossible to use it for spam effectively.
posted by musicinmybrain at 10:31 PM on June 10, 2009


Then I saw the qanda, creeping through the green,
Cutting through the tangle with jessamyn its queen

posted by never used baby shoes at 11:27 AM on June 10 [5 favorites +] [!]
posted by dirty lies at 6:20 PM on June 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Very cool, dirty lies. Exactly what I pictured a qanda to look like - how did you know?

get out of my head!
posted by never used baby shoes at 6:31 PM on June 11, 2009


Everyone knows how a qanda looks like. That's where chicken mcnuggets get their flavor from.

And since someone asked, yes, that is a banhammer.
posted by dirty lies at 6:52 PM on June 11, 2009


"hey, you make money on the internet, how do I do that?"

Chad Howie, Day Shift Manager.
posted by zippy at 1:02 AM on June 12, 2009


Meta-Filter: Larger particle impurities are gradually retained in a labyrinth structure as they pass along the filter wall.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:34 AM on June 12, 2009


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