Almost Famous

You know, despite my best efforts, I have never managed to reach celebrity status in Japan… and when I see the kind of humiliation my friend the “talento” has to go through, every time he is featured on TV (full story for another day), I am quite happy with that.

However, I can now die a happy man, since a small part of my work has finally been recognized for what it’s worth, and featured in a Fijian Newspaper. Yea, you read correctly: I am a star in Fiji.

Well, kinda.

You can read the whole story on Nacken‘s blog. Basically, Nacken’s got into a polemic over some censorship issue on Fijian TV, which brought him the visit on his blog of a well-meaning advocate of public decency. That dear lady, quite naturally tried to leave an answer to Nacken’s plea for open-mindedness and mature attitude toward adult themes on TV.

And that’s when things take a comical turn:

You see, it would appear Fiji has a strong propension toward triggering Spam Karma‘s filters, I think this is mostly due to the proliferation of proxy servers in order to reduce bandwidth costs (proxy servers can sometimes mask users’ IPs, which doesn’t bode well with Spam Karma at all, since it is a way too common mark of nasty spambots too). Or maybe that lady did something stupid that looked suspiciously like spam to SK.

Anyway, you guessed it, the poor lady’s comment was swiftly killed and she was presented by that now infamous line, which, I am sure, must have infuriated more than one innocent would-be commenter throughout the world:

Sorry but the total effect of your comment’s actions and conduct during the successive phases of its existence, did not justify giving it a second chance in this world of pain and misery…

In other words: it got trashed.
Bad Karma, man, bad karma…

Of course, that lady – bless her simple soul – naturally assumed this was Nacken’s real time answer to her comment, and was shocked at such a blatant censorship from the man who had risen against her own plea for censorship. Apparently, Nacken’s explanation over the phone did little to lift that confusion, because the next day, the paper printed this letter

Look! They quoted me!

All right, quite obviously we are not getting new Spam Karma users from this article, but this is still totally awesome. I might have Nacken mail me a few copies of this article to frame and send to all the relatives that told me I was stupid when I dropped out of school to focus entirely on that “get rich and famous through cockroach breeding and plugin writing” scheme. Now who’s laughing, huh?

Ironically, I had just released this afternoon a small upgrade for Spam Karma with a much-needed toned down deny message (see change logs for details). After all, spambots won’t read the message, and I don’t need to be an household object of hatred for the next 10 generations of frustrated bloggers, so a little politeness and explanations cannot hurt.

In other SK news, a quick Google search indicates that there are about 164.000 pages mentioning the string “spam karma” and 85,000 pages featuring SK’s standard “Advice to spammers” message. I have only one thing to say: Wow. Thanks.

I also guess that means I should get off my ass and start working on a kick-ass version 2.0. And I will. One day…

To be honest, I am quite ashamed by the current level of result of SK 1.x… It needs some serious reworking, and the addition of a few filters I have been pondering for the past few weeks. Unfortunately, gainful employment still has the priority over fun spam-kicking projects, so it will have to wait.


  1. Ha! in that case, I think I might have an idea about the culprit: the RBL filter in Spam Karma runs the commenter email address through different real-time database of known spammer IPs. These databases are also used by many email servers.

    It would appear that our Fijian friends are quite heavy on the spamming and/or have a very limited range of IPs, resulting in most people being on these blacklists.

    I would recommend you disable SK’s RBL filters (SK can do perfectly good without them): that should help a lot… Unfortunately, there’s no such easy fix for email, short of asking your ISP to be more lenient…

  2. Hi Dr. Dave,
    Aren’t you a kind of SunZi in the Japanese blogosphere and isn’t it dangerous once one gets official recognition? It’s sweet to become honoured and rewarded, but it’s hard to come to ground again! Always remember 九變篇第八!

  3. Lucas,

    SunTzu, heh?
    Huh, I don’t know if we are there yet. Plus I must admit that my reading of the Art of War goes back at least 10 years and didn’t make strong enough an impression on me to remember any important tactical detail at this point.
    It certainly sure is sweet to see something I’ve made become useful for so many useful. It’s also quite frustrating given the limited amount of time and resources I can afford to spend on this (but isn’t it always the case after all).
    As for the danger you are mentioning, I must admit I am not quite sure on what you mean… Are you alluding to a potential misplaced bloating of the ego? If that’s the case, let me reassure you right away: I have already such an inflated preconception of my own person, that it can hardly get any worse.

    As for the risk of losing the “security through obscurity” advantage that befalls any new tool (spam plugin or otherwise) upon its introduction: I think we have long been taken out of that and undergone intense scrutiny from our spammer friends. Beside, this was one of my guiding principles while writing this plugin (I believe I did explain my position on these “quick and dirty” stop-spam plugins that keep wasting everybody’s time in some other entry). SunTzu certainly had a point about discretion and controlling what your ennemies know of you, but the Internet didn’t exist back then. Nowadays, you ought to build your weapons with the assumption that your enemy is reading the blueprints all along.

    BTW, my Chinese is rather rusty, and the Japanese reading of your citation doesn’t help me all that much: something about the 8th chapter (of SunTzu’s?) and 9 changes? mmn, care to tell me more?

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