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August 21, 2012 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Getting spam through the contact form on my site - a lot of it seems to be text from posts on a public forum - what's the point of that?

So we have a website that just started getting 50-60 emails via the contact form that include only text - no links. Some of the emails have text from comments from this site: There are no 5-digit numbers or anything like that in them.

The form only goes to our CMS and adds a row to the database with the info. It's not a comment that gets posted to the site or anything like that.

I've installed a spam filter that seems to be working so that's not my question. My question is what is this about? How is this helpful to the spammers if there are no links or anything like that in the text? The emails and IP addresses are different. Are they just hoping for someone here to reply to one of them so they'll know they are on to something? Am I about to receive a million dollars from a Nigerian prince?
posted by dawkins_7 to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Some people think the point of this is to poison Bayesian filters.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:46 AM on August 21, 2012

Just to go into a bit more detail: by flooding the filter with lots of "normal" traffic, that gets marked as spam, the filter will start producing a lot of false positives, marking legitimate messages as spam.

This angers the human, who deactivates the filter, thus allowing spam through thereafter. That's the theory.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:09 AM on August 21, 2012

I don't even think it goes that far. I think the poisoning is intended only to cause normal email to go to the Spam/Junk folder, causing the receiver to have to look at the spam folder rather than blindly emptying it, which means they see the existence of other spam messages and possibly opening them to ensure they aren't good emails.
posted by rhizome at 11:53 AM on August 21, 2012

Response by poster: But even if I looked at the spam messages, what's the point if there isn't a link in them? Is it that they would do this for a while until I took off the spam filter and then hit me with the links?
posted by dawkins_7 at 12:53 PM on August 21, 2012

Best answer: They work to support other spam email that does have links. The sole purpose of the Bayesian poison is to mess with your spam filter.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:06 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's a trick that some spam uses: you get a bunch of junk at the top intended as Bayesian filter poison, then a couple hundred blank lines, and then at the very bottom there are a few lines of HTML which are the real spam. If you were to look at such a thing using a tool which interpreted it as HTML, all the junk would be missing and the only thing you'd see is the spam.

Are you sure your spams don't have payload a long way down at the bottom?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:30 PM on August 21, 2012

I get these as well and believe that most of them are the same automated spam crap that attacks your comment forms.

I was receiving tons of spam comment submissions with spam links in the "website" field, keywords in the "name" field, and scraped content in the "comment" field. I removed the "website" form field in my Wordpress sites, and the same spam still gets submitted, sans the "website" field, so it seems that some of the scripts used to spam our blogs will submit the forms regardless of whether all fields are present, resulting in comments (or in your case emails) with nothing but a bunch of garbage or scraped content.

I don't get as much of it from my email form, but I use a non-standard captcha with that.
posted by Th!nk at 10:52 PM on August 21, 2012

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