2015-07-21 Spam AI

Wow, I was involved in a conversation with a bot or a spam agent. I got a suspicious email the other day:

I was on the alexschroeder.ch website over the weekend doing some research on behalf of my son, and I noticed a broken link. Can you forward this email to the person who deals with the website?

I use your site a lot so hope this helps and also if you are open to resource suggestions please let me know as I have found a few that hellped me and I think they would help other people too.

Page with broken resource link: https://alexschroeder.ch/wiki?action=tag;id=Censorship and the site that is not working anymore is http://www.number-10.gov.uk/

I decided to check nevertheless and sure enough, there was a broken link. Still expecting shenanigans, my reply was curt.

Thanks. I’ll change that link to point to http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/main-topics/local-stories/mps-back-bid-to-outlaw-the-glorification-of-terrorism-1-2604480

And I got a reply back! But... w00t?

Happy to have helped as I know keeping control of all external links can be a tough job.

The resource I would like to show you could be a great addition to a resource suggestion page in your site as it is very different from any other data resource of its kind.

It helped my son with visualising data in a different way and I found it to be a real eye opener.

Have a look and let me know your thoughts, if you add it great and if not thank you for your time and the help your site has given us.



“truck locator”? “farm machinery locator”? You’ve got to be kidding me!

Update: The mysterious person found this page and sent me another email:

Alex, I am very much a real person with real feelings and was only helping you with a broken link, In which you were able to find and fix and then I suggested some resources my son wanted to share! I don’t understand why you would class that as spam or a bot and create a post on your site that has my personal details on it. I would really appreciate it if you can remove that as I don’t want to crazy emails from people that use your site.

I won’t be helping people on the net again as it’s not worth the hassle and people like you don’t appreciate the help.

OK, that sounds like a human. Could be a canned response, I guess. But I was intrigued. Bot or not? I was so convinced that this had been a bot sending me mail. Suddenly I felt like I had insulted a call center agent just doing their job. How does this work? Is this mysterious person working from home? I decided to write back.

This makes no sense. “truck locator”? “farm machinery locator”? You’ve got to be kidding me! Why did your son think such links would be of interest? Don’t worry about crazy emails. Your last name and your email address have been withheld.

And the mysterious person writes back again!

I have no idea why my 12 year old son even likes reading your site to be honest but he does and he had asked for me to email you and that’s what I have done. I just wanted you to know that I am a real person and not a spam bot. My friend is a moderator on Blaskhat world and he was the person who let me know about your post on your site. The whole internet thing is something I would like to get more into but it’s a scary place when things like this happen.

I can’t think of anything on my site appropriate for 12 year olds, but who knows. Perhaps he’s a D&D aficionado and reads my RPG posts. What about this “moderator on Blaskhat world”? Typing the name into Google, I get the following:


“BlackHatWorld is a fully moderated SEO Forum dedicated to dispersing Internet Marketing techniques.” Sounds like Spamdexing to me. So, Spam is correct, AI probably not. Or we’d be a lot close to the Singularity than I thought possible. Having just finished reading a book from Culture series by Ian Banks, I’m not so sure anymore. :)

Sadly, the exchange continued. The mysterious person said I should take all of this down, that I was insulting them, that I should remove the link to the Yorkshire Post, that I should remove the reference to Black Hat World, that they would hand this issue over to somebody else if I didn’t do that. Also: “If not he will contact you personally is that is what you would like?”



This mysterious person should be scared of their son, not the Internet. :D

– AlexDaniel 2015-07-29 14:56 UTC

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