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July 19, 2011

Will Emus Do?
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 06:23 PM * 62 comments

A spammer came through at the end of June, dropping various automated comments, using the name “answers yahoo.”

And it came to pass that in the course of sending all that spam to the Land of Oblivion, the posts were deleted … but ghosts remained. Ghosts which remain at the end of the comment thread, until a new comment is posted, at which point the spam magically vanishes.

I’ve been trying to remove the spam, by the only means that works … posting an on-topic reply on the thread. This is a challenge, as some of the threads are four or more years old. Then I asked myself, “Why should I have all the fun?”

“Because it’s fun,” I replied. But I shushed that clear little voice.

Here’s how to play the game. Google on the two-word group “answers yahoo,” with the site set to “nielsenhayden.com” Find a spam comment. Post something on-topic, yet witty, to make the spam vanish! And resurrect a thread at the same time.

Last I looked there were around ninety of those phantom spams remaining, so there’s lots of room to play.

Comments on Will Emus Do?:
#1 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 06:48 PM:

I was wondering whether the heat had gotten to you up there in the wilderness today :-)

#3 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 07:28 PM:

Emus are always on topic, maybe?

#4 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 07:31 PM:

Hey, I did two of them but I'm sure you're all much more amusing than I am....

#5 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 07:34 PM:

On-topic is hard, Jim.

#6 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:04 PM:

"Sybil Ward is making faces among the local Zengs. They are asking for her sister."

#7 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:06 PM:

Whacking a few while I'm at the lab.

#8 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:07 PM:

Aha! I've been wondering why they vanish so fast when I mark them as spam.

#9 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:07 PM:

I zapped five; marginally on topic, but that's me. Was almost sidetracked by the oatmeal cookie recipe. Mmmmmmmm, oatmeal cookies.

Meanwhile, there is red sauce with meat that needs to be cooked. And it needs another ten cloves of garlic.

#10 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:09 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) wins the mystery prize!

#11 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:09 PM:

Leave some for everyone!

#12 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:28 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @7: Whacking a few while I'm at the lab.

Looking at the 'Previous Comments' list, I was wondering WTF was up with Benjamin Wolfe; happy to see this explanation, as opposed to 'soul possession'.

#13 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:29 PM:

Ok, I think whacking 22 of them is enough for the moment. Not a bad way to have a makinglight break.

#14 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:33 PM:

I would have hit a few more, but I was having a lot of trouble coming up with vaguely on-topic comments.

#15 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:38 PM:

Nah, not possessed, just needed a break from tweaking an experiment. Demonic possession really gets in the way of doing good science.

#16 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 09:00 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ #15 "Demonic possession really gets in the way of doing good science."

"Victor? What are you doing down there?"

#17 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 09:12 PM:

Benjamin 7: Whacking a few while I'm at the lab.

I hope no one walks in on you! That would be soooo embarrassing.

#18 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 09:14 PM:

Arrgh! Xopher, that's up there with my joke today about turning statistical tricks (using statistical bootstrapping to examine the significance of some data).

#19 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 09:57 PM:

Ah, so that's why the "New Comments" list exploded with old threads. Now using tinfoil hat to make popcorn. ;-)

#20 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 10:05 PM:

Demonic repossession is when a house is haunted because someone can't pay the mortgage.

#21 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 10:09 PM:

Hmm. Based on my initial attempt to find a piece of spam, you guys are exorcising it way faster than Google is tracking the changes.

#22 ::: Danika Zoe ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 12:24 AM:

That was fun! Back to work now, I guess. Ho hum.

#23 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 12:30 AM:

Possession is 9/10 of the soul.

#24 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 12:31 AM:

Jim Macdonald:

I must confess that I did not look that quote up; I remembered it from many years ago. I am a nerd.

#25 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 01:58 AM:

Darn, I've been looking through the old threads, but the others beat me to it.

I never thought I'd be disappointed not to see spam.

#26 ::: IreneD ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 01:58 AM:

Still some lingering here and there, enough for everybody.

#27 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 03:20 AM:

I got 13, which is lucky. Quasi-, mostly- arguably on-topic. Thanks, Jim: that was fun.

#28 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 09:50 AM:

May I propose a vote of thanks for 'answers yahoo'?

If it were not for this sneaky spammer, Jim would not have posted a post about the suitability of emus.

If Jim had not penned his words, I would not have used the excellent Google invention to search Making Light.

If it wasn't for the diligence and speed of the members of the Fluorosphere, I would not have ended up on page ten of Google's instantly returned results.

Without this unlikely chain of events, I would never have come across this delightful post on 'That Topic' and my day would have been much poorer for it.

#29 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 11:11 AM:

Top of post: [..] the posts were deleted … but ghosts remained. Ghosts which remain at the end of the comment thread, until a new comment is posted, at which point the spam magically vanishes. I’ve been trying to remove the spam, by the only means that works … posting an on-topic reply on the thread.

Maybe not as much fun, but couldn't you have posted a placeholder comment to make the ghost spam disappear, then deleted the placeholder comment?

#30 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 11:22 AM:

I suppose I could have, but it would have been less fun. Posting, then deleting, nearly a hundred posts. Tedium.

Besides, we have things in the archives that should be revived.

#31 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 11:42 AM:

Jim

Could my comment be released from durance vile? It is innocent I assure you.

Thanks!

#32 ::: Tangurena ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 12:16 PM:

Running the google search, I see the spam show up under a post number, but there is no post of that number. It is gone? Half gone? A ghost of Google? Am I to late to play? I want to be Spartacus!

#33 ::: Tangurena is Spartacus ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 01:18 PM:

Ah, never mind. I actually found one.

#34 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 02:09 PM:

Braxis, there is something weird in the database. I released your post.

Your earlier comment shows up in the back-end lists of approved comments for this thread. It falls between "#27 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 03:20 AM:" and "#28 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 11:11 AM:"

But it doesn't appear to the world.

I don't know what's up with that.

#35 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 02:10 PM:

And ... my posting a comment here made it appear! Hurrah!

#36 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 02:33 PM:

#4 Tom Whitmore - "more emusing", Shirley?

#37 ::: Stepehn Frug ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 03:50 PM:

#28: I'm probably being thick as molasses here, and I admit to not having read the whole thread, but what in the world *was* the actual "that topic" that everyone was playing with? It's hard to recreate the context from three and a half years ago.

While I'm asking about things which apparently ought to be obvious, I googled the quote from #6 and all that came up was this post. So maybe someone could explain that too.

#38 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 03:56 PM:

Stepehn Frug (37): "That topic" was (ROT13'd) nobegvba, a nasty argument about which was beginning to break out in another thread.

#39 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 04:00 PM:

Stephen, #37: "That topic" is the surgical termination of a pregnancy. By consensus, it is not directly addressed here because it tends to create more anger than anyone is comfortable with, as well as drawing the attention of trolls. Think of it as our equivalent of He Who Must Not Be Named.

#40 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 04:00 PM:

Stepehn Frug @37: insert the vowels into brtn: a-o--io-, and you will discover a Word of Power capable of making lots of people lose their ability to engage in polite social discourse.

And I told you not to call me that, Mycroft W!

#41 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 04:07 PM:

#37 ::: Stepehn Frug

About that topic, the least said the better.

As to the quote, it's from a short story by Eric Frank Russell ("Top Secret") involving a super-secure communication system that, unfortunately, created garbles. The phrase "Will emus do?" when transmitted and received, became "Will amuse you."

#42 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 05:14 PM:

Thanks Jim - freedom is sweet.

In case it's another quiet day at work tomorrow, does anyone have more Greatest Hits of the Flourosphere suggestions?

Let's raid that back catalogue, people!

#43 ::: t ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 07:40 PM:

Braxis @42 -- that's like asking me to name my favorite book! There's humor, seriousness, and just plain weird: there's treasure everywhere. And just looking at what people are bringing up through James' little exercise (particularly if a thread gets more than one comment currently) is likely to be fun.

Anyroad, it's all about the conversation. You want warnings? James Earl Ray and Robert Fletcher. You want emergency preparedness? We got it here from James MacDonald. I mean, I could go on, but let me stop with saying: there's very little here that's not potentially interesting.

Do you write poetry?

#44 ::: Stepehn Frug ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 08:22 PM:

Mary/Lee/Tom/James, thanks!

(Funny how, when reading disemvowelled text, it seems less natural to put a vowel *before* the remaining consonants than between or after them.)

#45 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 09:35 PM:

My comment at 43 truncated my name to a single initial -- yes, it was me.

#46 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 07:11 AM:

James @35: Obviously Braxis' comment was antispam!

--Dave, bloody vikings

#47 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 10:08 AM:

In the vocal sphere, one might get argumentative about baritones, and that came to mind first, before, um, controversial surgical procedures.

Coming back to this planet now.

#48 ::: ACW ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 01:22 PM:

I poked at four of the Google hits randomly, and in all four cases ambitious early-bird fluorospherians had gotten there first. Are we done?

#49 ::: Joseph M. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 02:02 PM:

Braxis @42: I enjoy "Blog". Also, all cooking posts--look for the Gingered Shrimp and Pygmy Mammoth Salad if food interests you.

#50 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 02:33 PM:

Mary Aileen @38: Ah, you gave me an excuse to post a bumper sticker that make me snark the other day:

If your against brtn,
then don't have one.

#51 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 02:33 PM:

Gah! "made"

#52 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 02:36 PM:

James D. Macdonald @41: About that topic, the least said the better.

Oops. You are invited to disemvowel my @50, if that would be appropriate.

#53 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 02:56 PM:

Bitte, mich nicht ködern

Fvzvyneyl:

Vs lbh bccbfr fynirel,
Qba'g bja bar

#54 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 04:27 PM:

And that, dear friends, is why we do not discuss that topic here.

#55 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 04:43 PM:

At this moment there exists exactly one more example of the "answers yahoo" spam at Making Light.

#56 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 06:30 PM:

Someone must have beat me to it, or it's hiding in Teh Google-fu....

#57 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 06:39 PM:

It's still there.

#58 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 07:48 PM:

But tis gone now. Thanks to everyone who played.

The nswrs yh spammer's taint is gone.

#59 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2011, 02:45 AM:

Tom @43 Prose defeats me most days. My forays into poetry are few and far between.

Joseph @49 thanks for the link.

Perhaps an 'Entertain Me!' random post link could be added to the front page?

#60 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2011, 02:13 PM:

I have answered
the yahoos
that were in
the archives

... nah, just ain't working, and you'd gotten them all before I read the thread. But Yahoo! They're gone.

#61 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2011, 07:07 PM:

James D. Macdonald @54: I most humbly beg the pardon of the Fluorosphere.

#62 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2011, 12:51 PM:

>> Without this unlikely chain of events, I would never have come across this delightful post on 'That Topic' and my day would have been much poorer for it.

Having just gotten to the bit about the bread mix in "Rule 34", I got a shiver when I read comment #58 in that thread. It's really true! Everything is connected!

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

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