My time is almost up here (I’m hoping to fit in one or two more pithy thoughts), but I’d like to discuss my main task this week: housekeeping.  Red asked me to fill in, in part, to help keep her comment queue clean.  Unlike my comments section over at nycweboy, Red is inundated with spam comments of all sorts (the fact that it’s a sign of popularity, of course makes me wildly jealous), and left unchecked, almost 100 messages can be lined up in a matter of hours.

What I noticed, in fact, was that since last year, things have gotten exponentially worse.  Dozens of comments show up afer only 3 or 4 hours, and because I don’t want to miss any real ones, I’ve been scanning through the material.  And it’s awful – there’s a repeating porn message I’ve been deleting all day that’s really just unbelievably nasty.  And that doesn’t mention the ones who try “Nice post!” and some sneaky link as a way in. And I’m not trying to goose Red’s readership by bringing this up (it’s not like I posted a gratuitous shot of Pam Anderson or anything), but I feel like someone needs to say something, and I haven’t seen a lot of people remark on this.

There’s been some effort to control spam messages on e-mail boxes (there kind of had to be, because people were getting furious, and businesses were struggling to keep firewalls operational), but I think the governemnt response was entirely backwards: rather than make the problem the spammers, it made the probem us, by making us sign on to “do not mail” lists of dubious usefulness. The problem isn’t the fact that we have e-mail addresses or websites; the problem is that all sorts of dubious enterprises – financial scams, porn sites, car salesmen and God knows what else – seem to think all’s fair in the pursuit of audience and sales.  It’s that behavior that’s the problem, and that’s the thing that needs to be addressed.

It’s easy to let this discussion get bogged down in the nature of our 1st Amendment and in looking like… I don’t know… some sort of fascist, maybe? … by complaining.  But I don’t know anyone – no one – who is a fan of this stuff.  Like “thank goodness I got another message from some bank scam trying to access my information” or “gee, I had no idea big blonde women were so versatile!”  No, mostly we know what this is – a nuisance and where we want it to go – away.  And the dirty secret is, no one’s doing a damn thing about it.


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