Spam with Typos: Why Do They All Have Spelling Errors?

A friend asked me: I don't get it. Why do spammers have such a hard time spelling things properly? I get mail trying to sell me "viagggra", increase my "brest" size, or save me money accessing "pr0n" sites or buying "seks toys". Even more puzzling, there are plenty of spam messages where it takes me a few minutes to even figure out what the subject actually is, with subjects like "sa vem oneyo n vviiiaaagra" or similar. What's the story? Why can't these people use a spell checking program??

I have often wondered this myself, with spam messages like "YOU JUST WONT A GREENCARD" (don't they mean "won"?), "Morgage ref id last opportunity" (don't they mean "mortgage")? and, my favorite "earn a college degre instantly" (they presumably mean "degree", but if they can't spell the word degree, how can I have confidence in the legitimacy of what they're offering??)

But anyone who has spent more than about five minutes looking at the problem and attempted solutions to spam knows why there are such rampant misspellings: to try and sidestep spam filters. In additional to individual spam filtering systems, there are now many Internet Service Providers who filter your email before it even gets to your mailbox, weeding out the most idiotic and easily recognized of this junk.

Of course, if you are a physician and have patients who are concerned about that Merck Vioxx prescription you wrote for them two years ago, it is theoretically possible that their message won't make it to you. If you're a mortgage broker, well, news of your competitors offerings might be something you do want to receive. But overall, most people don't want this junk, so the people clogging up the Internet with the billions of spam messages sent daily continue to try and sidestep these filtering mechanisms, and the misspellings, typos, and oddly presented words (like "0ffer" with a leading zero rather than "offer" with a letter o) presumably offer some minimal ability to do just that.

The irony of all this, in my opinion, is that the more spammers try to do overt and stupid tricks to try and sidestep the filters, the less effective their messages are. They might measure 1 sale in 250,000 messages a success, but better targeting, legitimate offers, well-written ad copy and genuine opt-in distribution lists might just improve those odds quite a bit. And if you're selling something, wouldn't you like to avoid having 95% of the Internet spontaneously hate you because of your marketing techniques?

Dave Taylor has been involved with the Internet since 1980, and has written sixteen different technical books. His latest projects are College Finances and Ask Dave Taylor, where he's happy to receive questions from readers.

In The News:

Robocalls | About Verizon  Verizon Communications
How to stop spam email  Popular Science

Email Spam and Phishing

It seems like the volume of email spam has doubled... Read More

Demand for Spam? It exists

Do you like spam? No, I'm not kidding. Everybody knows... Read More

Invasion of the Email Snatchers

They're sneaky. And stealthy. They're quiet and mostly unobtrusive, but... Read More

How To Stop Spam

I imagine you have seen, heard about, or already know... Read More

I Must Be The Luckiest Person Alive! Spam

I must be the luckiest person alive! My inbox is... Read More

How Spammers Fool Bayesian Filters - And How to Stop Them

Effectively stopping spam over the long-term requires much more than... Read More

Which Spam Filter Is Best For You?

With the number of spam filtering solutions increasing each week... Read More

Stop Spam! New Spam Blockers

News last week that Internet service provider Verizon settled its... Read More

The Business Of Sending Spam

You all tear your hair out in frustration every time... Read More

Is Your Website Blacklisted?

A blacklist, as the name implies, is a list of... Read More

Why Is Spam Such a Problem?

Spam can be a lot more damaging than you might... Read More

Spam with Typos: Why Do They All Have Spelling Errors?

A friend asked me: I don't get it. Why do... Read More

The Great Spam Scam: Five Strategies To Stop Brand and Revenue Robbery

Marketers usually think of anti-spam tactics as 'how to prevent'... Read More

Avoid, Shun, Thwart, Prevent, and then Filter Spam

Email is rapidly becoming the standard means of communication among... Read More

Spam - Its Whats For Breakfast

The first thing I do every morning when I wake... Read More

What To Do When You Get Spam

When you go to your mailbox and find pieces of... Read More

Anti Trackback and Comment Spam Methods

What is spam ? ... Read More

The Trouble With Spam Is....

Each day we all face the same challenge. Spam. It... Read More

Internet Tip of the Week: Cease and Desist

While we all admit that unsolicited commercial email is a... Read More

Spam The Spammer - Will It Work?

Spam is everywhere. It's the "in-box lunch meat" nobody likes,... Read More

What Exactly is Spam?

Spam, as defined in the context of computers, the Internet... Read More

What to Do to Avoid Getting Banned

How would you feel if you found a link on... Read More

ANTI-S*P^A#M: Protecting Your Web Sites Email Address(es)

Did you know that there are software programs that view... Read More

Im Guilty Until Proven Innocent

No doubt about it."Spam" (unsolicited commercial email) threatens to paralyze... Read More

Protecting Your Business From Spam

Even being as careful as possible with my email address,... Read More