Category Archives: writing

How to Write a Good Spam Comment

Dear spam commenter,

I see you’re having some trouble coming up with spam comments that won’t be immediately trashed. You are probably wondering why: aren’t people interested in Louis Vuitton bags? Don’t they want their websites optimized for search engines? Don’t they need a loan? Fortunately for you, I am here to help you achieve excellence in the art of spam commenting, so that you may reach a higher percentage of blogs and finally manage to sell some rip-off bags. You’re welcome.

The first thing you should know is comments normally don’t have a title, especially not in bold. So, when I see something like: “<strong>Google…</strong>” at the beginning, I (and pretty much everyone else) get suspicious. You see, Google doesn’t leave comments, because Google is not a person. You can tell because it doesn’t have a surname: people have surnames. This may seem surprising to you, but is common knowledge among the folks that have a website.

Louis Vuitton portemonnee

Louis Vuitton portemonnee. Just gotta have it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another tell is your lack of spelling skills. You’d think that a company with the ability to spam thousands, if not millions of blogs, would have enough money for a spell-checker, mainly because those come for free. However, most of your messages display an appalling lack of knowledge of the English language. A well-written spam message would have much greater odds of being accepted.

Then there is punctuation. Or, more exactly, there is a lack of it. Here are some tips for your next batch of spam goodness:

  1. First letters in a paragraph have to be capitalized.
  2. long paragraphs which have no punctuation but seem to go on for long like this one are hard to read and barely make any sense especially if they have strings of seemingly pointless data and stuff nobody cares about I really don’t see the point on these comments please stop
  3. A string of never-ending commas doesn’t qualify as punctuation.

Oh, and “definately” is not a word.

The way I see it, good spamming has to look like an actual comment, so that the owner of the blog is fooled into publishing it. In this respect, I have seen some moderately clever attempts. For example:

“This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post. Also, I have shared your website in my social networks!”

Apart from the obvious lack of writing skill, your comment sounds unnatural and way to unspecific. Here’s a better take on the same idea:

“This was awesome! I just shared it on Facebook. My wife’s gonna love it.”

See? It sounds much more natural. One may actually believe it was written by a real person: the mention to the wife, for example, adds depth and realism.

A typical spam mail from summer 2011. A click ...

A typical spam mail from summer 2011. A click on the image in the mail would lead to an unsafe website or invoke the download of a computer virus. The image as such is harmless. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another way to get the blogger to think this is a real comment is to criticize. Criticizing, though, is quite a difficult enterprise if you don’t know what the post is about. So I have to give it to you for trying with things like:

“I’ll complain which you have copied materials from an additional source…”

The problem, again, is it sounds quite unnatural. Not only that: when you start your message with “payday loans” you kind of lose your credibility. A better take on the same would be:

“This is just a shameless rip-off from Wikipedia.”

See what I did? A lot of blog posts are actually shameless rip-offs from Wikipedia, so this is more than plausible. The word “shameless” suggests anger, which in turn suggests the presence of someone being angry, instead of some bot. With this you could go wrong in many places, but you can ensure a higher percentage of bloggers will actually publish your comment (certainly higher than whatever ridiculous percentage you’re getting now).

In my humble opinion (this is dedicated to Tongue Sandwich) the trick for getting your spam published is to say something absolutely generic that sounds tailored to that post in particular. A little like cold reading. One possibility would be to spam the whole “humor” section with something like:

“This was hilarious! I was laughing out loud from the first paragraph to the last.”

You can hardly go wrong with this one, except for those posts that only contain a picture. For the philosophy section, something like this would be applicable to 90% of the blogs:

“The fact that this is in the philosophy section is an insult to the name of philosophy.”

I’m sure you get the gist. Anyway, you probably are too busy spamming to take the time to create good comments, so I’ve decided to help you out and do your work for you. Yes, I’m that nice. Here’s a selection of possibilities, which I encourage you to copy and use at your discretion. I am sure my readers will contribute with more.

“That was bloody brilliant. Could you point me some further reading?” (Asking questions signals an engagement with the article)

“I hear ya bro.” (I’ve somehow always wanted to reply with this comment to long, wordy posts on Wittgenstein).

“This post reeks of dissatisfaction. It seeps through your words and impregnates your whole writing style like a slimy, unhappy tar. You could definitely use some Louis Vuitton bags.”

“Some piece of advice for you: never give up, stay positive, believe in yourself.” (Given the number of times I’ve seen this written by non-spammers, I would have no problem believing this came from a real person. You may look like an idiot, but a non-spamming one).

And the one that I really, truly wish you wrote:

“Hi, this is a spam message. I have no talents or skills and I am forced to make a living by selling SEO tools. So please download my plug-in so I can install a Trojan horse in your PC and steal all of your credit card passwords. Thanks.”

By the way, if you haven’t yet, check out this “spam poem” by Chasing Wild Geese.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Some Thoughts About Aging

When I was younger every time I started writing I had the feeling I was doing something transcendental, as if I was tapping into the great truths of the universe which would somehow be revealed through my fingers. When I was younger thinking itself was a mystical experience, fueled by an unconscious belief that there was something to learn, that life was about learning and that this learning would have a reward in the shape of meaning. When I was younger I believed there were great truths about life to be discovered by thinking hard enough about them, truths that would elevate my soul and that of anyone who heard them.

When I was younger, in a nutshell, I used to believe someday it would all make sense. I just had to think hard enough about it.

Where did it all go?

I still write. I haven’t stopped writing since I was a teenager and I have certainly never stopped thinking. But my thinking has become colder and so has my writing. There is no hope for transcendence anymore. There is hope for originality, for clarity. There is the hope of being published or being recognized. But there is no more faith in, well, I don’t know what it was I had faith in. It was a feeling that rang similar to being in love.  This blind expectation that, once you get the object of your desire, the hand of God will touch you and everything will be illuminated.

Have I become a cynic? It could be. I certainly hope not, but it is a definite possibility. I am not unhappy and I am perfectly capable of enjoying a sunset or a piece of music. I just don’t believe it brings me closer to the light anymore. Maybe because I have stopped believing in “the light,” whatever it was I meant by that.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s hormonal. Those intense feelings of my twenties have all but evaporated and been substituted by something much more calculating. I actually feel quite embarrassed every time I read some of the stuff I used to write, with all those feelings and great lessons about existence and how the next truth would be revealed to all those unsuspecting readers. Now I see it and it feels naive and, honestly, quite cheap. But at the same time I feel jealous. I wish I could conjure up that youthful enthusiasm again. I wish I could believe that everything will make sense. I wish I could believe life happens for a reason and that I just haven’t figured it out yet. I wish.

It is hard to place the moment in which I stopped being a child and became an adult. I would estimate it was around my 26th birthday, but I could be wrong. I am still unclear about whether being an adult is worth it. Yes, you know more about life. Though that’s not necessarily a gift. Yes, you know how to put your problems in perspective, but that’s because you’ve finally known real pain and you know what you should really be scared of. Yes, you now have this smug perspective that makes everything you did when you were 20 feel downright pathetic. In fact, what you have is a sad smile.

And yet, it all feels so empty.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The New Generation of Pragmatic Dreamers

When I was 10 I dreamt of many things. One of them was coming up with the unified theory of particle physics, something which unfortunately hasn’t happened. Another one was to become a great writer. As time went by I pretty much gave up on the first dream, but not on the second. I continued to write frequently during my teenage years and into my adulthood. My dream involved a lot of transcendent chats about the meaning of life with other literates, artists and scientist, while drinking a cafe latte in a bohemian bar. My imagined way to success started with being published by some fringe weekly magazine, which would in turn enable me to get my book out there thanks to some independent editor, which would end up with my work becoming a best-seller thanks to word of mouth.

Writer's Stop

Writer’s Stop (Photo credit: Stephh922)

With much sadness, I have to say that romantic idea of success is all but dead. It turns out that publishing companies don’t do promotion anymore. At least, not of books they’re not confident will sell. Of course, the only ones they’re confident will sell don’t actually need promotion, which leaves aspiring writers in a pretty undesirable position. How to get a publishing deal, then? And, most importantly, how to get a publishing deal where your book gets some air time and doesn’t end up in a ditch? The solution, as I’m certain every single aspiring writer out there is aware of, is the Internet. Start a blog, build an audience, promote your own work. If your idea is to be self-published, that’s mandatory. But it will also greatly enhance your chances of getting published by a major editor: if your blog is already successful, you’ve done the promotion for them, so there’s no risk involved. Of course, if you’re an aspiring writer and you have a blog you’re probably aware writing is not what matters, at least not what matters most. I am sure you’re tired of reading junk with thousands of likes on Facebook, because there are all kinds of people: those who appreciate a well-written, articulate message and those who appreciate all kinds of other stuff that’s neither well-written nor articulate. And, unfortunately for you, their clicks count as much as everyone else’s.

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

So every aspiring writer out there ends up facing the fact that they need to start caring about likes, shares and comments. They need be good at socializing. You can’t be a great, isolated and successful writer. Because, no matter how good your stuff is, nobody will read it unless you promote it. And the only way to promote it is through interaction. This has turned most aspiring writers into unwilling PR machines. We have a twitter account, a Facebook page; we check our Klout score every week; we read other blogs compulsively looking for things to say, for cross-links to build. The Internet has turned us dreamers, who thought our art alone could save us, into pragmatists, who build a brand just like any other company does.

Image representing Klout as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

I personally find this sad. I am aware we live in a world where public relations are a necessary evil, but I spent my whole life hoping I wouldn’t actually have to bother with that. I was wrong. Still, I continue to dream, though in a slightly different way. I dream that tomorrow I will wake up and find 100 new followers on twitter. I dream my Facebook page will suddenly get a thousand likes out of the blue. I dream my blog will have so many comments I won’t be able to answer most of them. As much as it pains to admit it, I have become one more of the new generation. I am one of the many, not one of the few. I am a pragmatic dreamer.

Enhanced by Zemanta

David Yerle Writes about Writing

WritingsDavid Yerle writes about writing. Not about writing in general or about how people should write, but about his own personal experience and what has worked for him. He is positive other people will have other methods which are just as good or probably better.

David Yerle would like to point out that he is not a native English speaker, but a Spanish one. This of course draws from his English writing, but he chooses to persevere in this language because he feels his potential audience is larger and because English is an extremely appropriate language to express thoughts. English, he adds, is also flexible and fun.

What David Yerle means by “fun” involves several aspects. You can make up a word and, as long as it’s obvious enough that you’ve done it on purpose, you will get away with it. You can use a proper name as a verb; you can make a verb into a noun or an adjective or what have you; you can play around and people will like you more for it.

But David Yerle digresses, since this piece was supposed to be about his writing. His findings can be summarized in one word: revise.

David Yerle has found out that the quality of the first draft is mainly irrelevant. What really matters is where you set the bar for “good enough.” That is, if you are committed to never release something that’s just fine, you never will. You will revise and revise and revise and correct like a madman and rethink and rewrite and you will only stop when the whole thing does not make you blush.

This probably works for David Yerle because he’s not a talented writer but he’s a pretty good reader. Other, really talented people may just come up with works of art on their first try. David Yerle is not that lucky, but he knows what he likes to see on paper. And he tweaks his own work until he sees it.

David Yerle hopes this may help some other aspiring writers out there.

David Yerle whistles.