Nylon Stockings and Denier Spam

By Maeve Maddox

Puzzled by a spate of strange comments being posted on my teaching blog lately, I looked to Google search for an explanation.

The comments range from vacuous puffs written in a strange kind of English,

I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or blog posts on this kind of area. Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site. Reading this info So i am happy to convey that I’ve an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered just what I needed. I most certainly will make certain to don’t forget this website and give it a glance regularly.

to utter gibberish:

l watches, and he led free on some chair asks umbrella that he knocked well longer flat as his credit. By on it had tightly see with it appeared smaller jerry of ourselves! His samay or watches. Polar felt accountable heart, at monitor came the better around the watches or jake matter. Weight would’ve that he safely. I nodded crossing then silvery, which grotesquely had then of the organic hour.

In searching the web, I hoped to find out what benefit anyone could derive from posting this kind of drivel in a comment section. I never did discover a satisfactory explanation, but I have learned a new expression: denier spam.

As I grew up in an age when nylon stockings were a staple of every woman’s wardrobe, the only association the word denier had for me was:

denier: a unit of fineness for silk, rayon, or nylon yarn equal to the fineness of a yarn weighing 0.05 gram for each 450 meters of length or one gram for each 9000 meters b : the fineness of a silk, rayon, or nylon yarn or fabric.

Could “denier spam” be an especially fine variety of spam?

I kept looking until the penny finally dropped. The word I was seeing wasn’t denier [dən-yā], as in 20-denier nylon, it was denier [dĭ-nī’ər], as in “one who denies.”

Doh!

Apparently denier spam is the sort that comes from one-issue readers who use a blog’s comment section to soapbox lengthy denials of global warming, the geological age of the earth, the perils of permitting people to carry concealed weapons, etc.

It’s a relief to have learned the correct pronunciation and meaning of denier spam, but I’m still at a loss to understand the purpose of what I’ve come to call empty puff spam and gibberish spam.

What’s the benefit to those who place it?

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


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19 Responses to “Nylon Stockings and Denier Spam”

  • Mark Nichol

    Maeve:

    The first comment you reproduced is like many I’ve received. I assume these come from site visitors for whom English is new and unfamiliar terrain, akin to the “please to helping me wondrously English written” type of comments — only, in the type you provided, the correspondent is simply sharing the sheer joy of learning something about a new language. On the other hand, the generic language is odd. Are there any links in the messages?

    I ask that because the message may be, like the second example you provide, what I call link spam, in which the sender embeds linked keywords into randomly worded text. The iterations of watch are likely links to sites where you will be estatic to find unbelievable deals on faux-designer wristwatches.

  • Karla

    They’re testing to see if they can exploit your site.

  • David

    Further to Mark’s comments – they don’t need to embed links within their comment text if your blog is set up to automatically add a link out to the website they enter in your comment form. If you’re not using a “nofollow” tag on your external links then you could be helping to improve their search rankings. By making their comment seem almost genuine many people leave them on their posts with their username acting as a link out to their site.

  • Maeve

    Mark,
    I think that both types, the empty praise and the gibberish are intended as Karla says to find a way to exploit the site. No, there are no links, so I still wonder exactly how this works.

    I have made a habit of automatically deleting remarks that make no specific reference to the post they are supposed to be commenting on. Lately I’ve noticed some that contain the title of the post, but they are still obviously some sort of phishing missive.

  • Deborah H

    Yes. What Karla said.

  • Cindy Cotter

    I copied the first line of text from the first comment you quoted and googled it. I got over a million hits. The few I checked were all comments on blogs, sent by different people, but in each case the name of the sender was clickable and brought the reader to a site selling something — in each case something different.

    So, I figure the comments are posted by a spam bot which can’t tell that your blog is configured in such a way that the name of the poster isn’t clickable.

    There are a couple of advantages for the person doing the spamming. First, if you designed the site on behalf of a client, then you maybe making money based on the number of pageviews. Second, there’s always the chance some of that redirected traffic will actually result in a sale.

  • Steve Hall

    Cindy and others have the right of it. Chances are, the poster’s name at the top of those comments is a link to something you’d probably rather not have linked on your blog.

    (Clicking my name will take you to my own blog, and is not a spam site of any sort, I promise.)

  • Steve Hall

    Ahhh…following up. You’ve disabled linkable commenter names, so you aren’t seeing the clickable links in your spammers’ names.

  • Sandra Fikes

    My personal explanation for this kind of comment is that it is a fishing expedition.

    The comment is posted to your site by a bot, that then rescans the page for the same words that are in the comment. If the bot finds the comment was automatically approved then the bot collects information on where it posted the comment so that the bot’s owner can either post SPAM comments or, I’m guessing here, sell the information to someone that does.

    So, even though the comment does not have any links, (not even the name in some comments I have got before) it has a specific series of words that the bot is looking for when it goes back over the page to see if it can post the comments that do have links.

    I’m not any sort of SEO or SPAM expert, though, that is just my speculation from years of fighting that kind of comment.

  • Deborah H

    My favorite spams are the ones that argue or disagree with something I’ve written, except they’re posted to the calendar on my website.

    “I think you are a brilliant writer, but you couldn’t be more wrong on this topic.” Yeah, well. Take it up with the Pope.

  • randy

    yep, plain old SEO spambot trying to spread links for google juice. any open commenting system fills up, and it is quite effective. note super-spam-laden terms (weight, watches, credit, silver etc.)

  • Lucas

    The spammers are building backlinks to their websites to increase their rankings in search engine results. It’s one of the unfortunate side effects of Google’s implementation of its ranking algorithm, which places heavy emphasis on backlinks as “testimonials” of quality.

  • GregS

    Be careful about the use of the word “denier” in the last instance. It is an offensive term that equates an unpopular opinion with Holocaust Denial.

    The proper word for disagreement with the consensus is “dissent” not “denial”.

  • Stephanie

    Yup. It’s for the linkage. Askimet seems to be really good at catching those comments and throwing them in the spam folder.

  • Eric

    I don’t know much about exploiting sites as spoken about here, but I have seen this kind of English before. I teach English writing in China, and the students very often will write an assigned essay in Chinese, then paste it into a Google translator, or any number of others, and translate it to English. Unedited the result most often looks like this “strange” English. Maybe the comment is from a non-English speaker, or poor English speaker, and via translating software.

  • Maeve

    Stephanie,
    I have Askimet, but these are getting through.

    And I just noticed that the widget that shows recent comments has been hacked.

    Durnit. Why can’t people just play nice?

  • Matt

    Have you ever heard of xrumer (or scrapebox)? I’d put my money on both these types of comment spam being the result of their incompetent use. They are programs designed to spam, with the purpose of spreading links, however they can hiccup on some sites with unusually formatted comment forms (which results in no link being left behind with the spam).

    Sometimes these programs are also used with the sole purpose of spamming a competitor with garbage to lower the quality of their comment areas and forums (another possible reason why there were no links included with the spam).

  • Julie Achterhoff

    Thank goodness I’m not the only one getting this crazy stuff! I get hundreds of these, moreso lately. Askimet isn’t doing much good either. One thing I’ve noticed is these comments are almost always on the most prominent posts on my blog. It’s really getting out of hand.

  • peter

    thanks for this good post. I’ll come back soon 🙂

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