Tuesday, February 08, 2005

the register interviews the link spammer

Friends using Movable Type alerted me to The Register's interview with a link spammer, along with the usual curses and threats of violence. Apart from the (now very occasional) erasing of a stray comment spam in the livejournal communities I moderate, this problem seems to have been solved by the developers at the sites I use, so perhaps I lack the deep-seated sense of grievance to respond appropriately, but I came out of the article not so much annoyed at the link spammer (who, let's face it, is no more evil than arms dealers or traffickers and all the other people who will tell you that they're just meeting a business need and it's nothing personal) but actually (as often happens) quite annoyed with The Register.

Something about the tone of the article bothered me, made me feel snarling. But what? Consider this paragraph:
So Sam, like other link spammers, uses the thousands of 'open proxies' on the net. These are machines which, by accident (read: clueless sysadmins) or design (read: clueless managers) are set up so that anyone, anywhere, can access another website through them. Usually intended for internal use, so a company only needs one machine facing the net, they're actually hard to lock down completely.
So while admitting that it's actually "quite hard" to keep your machines secure, The Register nevertheless calls the people maintaining machines that are vulnerable "clueless", and while they don't come out and say "well, they're asking for it", the implication is there ... and as the story continues, the interviewer seems almost beside himself with excitement over this turd who is devoting his life to further destroying the internet's already dicey signal to noise ratio, all in the name of directing more people into the his gaping pornogamblingpillhole.

It seems weird that someone doing something so dull and destructive should end up invested with hacker glamour; but perhaps it isn't actually about what he's doing. While quick to insist he's not breaking the law, a quick glance returns the moral equivalent of using other peoples' back-gardens, car-parks and school-yards for reselling prostitutes, slots and pills. Even though the laws aren't written yet it's obvious he's breaking them. And he's unrepentant.

So maybe it's just the natural grudging respect we feel for the unrepentant sinner; the person who actually does what we occasionally think about. Like spraying anonymous pornographic links over someone's comment boxes, cramming swear-words into an online form or emailing cocks to someone else's circulation list. There's a sort of goggle-eyed admiration at work here; not only is he doing it, but he's making it pay, giving it the undeniable legitimacy of commercial success.

So there you have it; the geeks coyly eyeing up the naughty boys with sneaking admiration, while all the time, saying "well I could, if I wanted to ..."

Although of course, they never would at The Register. They're above all that.


Clickbank Mall said...

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Blog news.

Google has created a "no follow" tag that blogger.com is using that will stop comment spammers links to get indexed in to Google search engine, Thus should help stop some comment spam from happening.

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Jeremy Dennis said...

Comment spam about comment spam! So meta!