Literary and Poetry Spam - A New Kind of Spam

The Internet provides the most effective and affordable venue for marketers and advertisers to reach mass audiences with the click of a button. Not surprisingly, e-mail marketing is a lucrative business and continues to grow. But with the mushrooming of e-mail marketing comes the spam plaque. Leaving consumers with the constant ache of filtering out cheap enhancement products, Nigerian money offers, and… spam containing poetry and classic literature?

Spam containing poetry and excerpts of novel is on the rise, and may be the next harsh symptom of the spam plaque. One blogger and journalist from the New York Times Magazine reported finding an excerpt of a chapter from The Master Key by Wizard of Oz author L Frank Baum in an email that had “the big unit” as its subject line. (Not too hard to figure out what that email was offering.)

You might wonder why spammers will include classic literature and poems in their emails. The answer? Simple. To fool spam filters.

Spam Filters

The need for spam filters has gone up as the number of unwanted pitches the average e-mail user receives increases every year. Fortunately, with more unwanted pitches came better spam filters. In fact, the best of filters can detect 99% of junk mail.

The filters work by searching emails for words frequently used by spammers and words often used by you, your friends, and colleagues. The emails containing words favored by spammers often get x-ed. Spurring, spammers to come up with newer ways to pass filters.

For a while spammers tried breaking up offensive words with the use of periods to produce subject lines like e.hance your pr.formance. Not knowing that this made it easier for the filters to spot the unsolicited offer.

When spammers clued in, they started adding rare words in emails to try fool the filters. They slowly progressed to embedding a few sentences from poems and classical literature like Shakespeare.

But, still some filters recognize that not a lot of people write emails using Shakespearian style language. Causing spammers to drop the ‘to be or not to be?’ line and to burrow text from the works of famous authors like Charles Dickens and George Bernard Shaw.

Literary Spam Inspires Poetry

On the flip-side, the inclusion of literary works to trick spam filters have inspired some email users to create poetry from the spam cluttering their inboxes. Similarly, a large number of email users have found literary value behind the slim-your-waist and enhancements ads, that they have composed poems from the subject lines; whereas others have created verses and lyrics by connecting rare words and sentence fragments that appear in spam.

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