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Lies and lying liars

If you look to the right of this blog entry you'll see a link titled "Talk to me". It takes you to an email form that'll send your words to my inbox. On that form it says, perhaps a little bluntly, "I hate link exchanges, refuse to publish press releases and will not publicize your project if you ask nicely. And I am not your search engine optimization bitch." That's because any number of greedy ass-hats think that my blog, with its high google pagerank, exists solely to promote their get-rich-quick scheme via search engine optimization.

Despite this, I still get come-ons from idiots who can't read.

Usually I bin them, but I'd like to deliver a special call out to "Andrew Shen", who wrote the following:

Hi Antipope,

My name is Andrew Shen, I am a regular reader of As you know, Google finally announced Google+, its next effort in social. However, because Google+ is still in beta version, Google doesn't add a functional search feature to its new social network.

I just wrote a free web app: Google Plus Search. it can search the Google Plus contents and profiles online, show the hot trends of G+. It also supports for Chrome Extenstion and Android App. The URL:


If you think it'll be of benefit to your readers, could you like to tell them about my site?

It should be fairly obvious Andrew Shen is a spamming liar ("I am a regular reader of" — yeah, right) who, moreover, doesn't read before spamming. And if you agree with me, you might want to copy this link into your own blog: Andrew Shen is a spamming liar. After all, he asked me to publicize his "free" app (which I suspect rapes your address book, sells the contents to spammers, and buys XXX-rated porn using your Google Checkout account) — shame he forgot to specify how.

(Postscript: maybe there'd be a bit less of this sort of spam on the internet if those of us with high pageranks systematically set about crucifying the grifters? Discuss.)



Your blog entry arrived via Google Reader just as I was loading up my aggregator. (It's a project I started when the Bulldada Newsblog of the High Weirdness Project went away.)

So ...

(And yes, I'm the same "just john" who has been commenting "anonymously" over the past week or so, since I finished Rule 34.)


Unfortunately, in addition to spamming liar you can probably add shameless spamming liar to most of these. So exposing the spam probably will not slow it down.


(Though I fully agree with you and support you crucifying this guy) asking readers to post links like that isn't as effective as it once was. Google has put in a lot of work to disabling Google-bombing and the like (quite rightly) and they've done a good job, as can be seen by searching for [litigious bastards] or the like.


Well, this is a funny one to read just after finishing "Rule 34"!


It would help only if you do the crucifixion in meatspace.


Could be a fiendishly clever marketing plan!


I think a better mechanism than public shaming on the pages of your blog would be to make your email blacklist shareable.


My email blacklist is shareable -- it's called GMail.


And ANY religio
ous web-site or promoter at all, of course, since:
All religions are blackmail, and based on lies and fear.

( Or is that too "strong" a statement? )

In the meantime, well-done for outing such a virulent shill.


I think he has been SEOed. When I looked for Andrew Shen in Google, this blog post came in the third place.


you know what they say in marketing, any publicity is good publicity.
The dude wont care if you talk good or bad about him, as long as you talk about him he gets exposure and mindshare (and maybe pagerank on Andrew Shen, and by extension, since they will be related, on his site which adress you didnt included) (also: P[Andrew Shen ≠ HisRealName]=0.99)

Also: You mean you blacklist all gmail? that would be plain nasty....


At the risk of being difficult, this is why CAPTCHAS were invented. This is probably a drive-by spambot that sniffs out "contact me" links on any blog it can find, so there isn't even a human behind it to be shamed. Spammers should be hung upside down by their toes and publicly flogged, and giving them any attention or links is just feeding the trolls. Perhaps Google needs "negative links" so you can meta-tag something that "this page I'm linking to is evil and bad"?


No, I use gmail as a mail washer. Anything that hits my own server gets cycled through gmail to weed out the spam. Then I read my mail via IMAP/SSL.

I ended up resorting to this after the workload of maintaining spamassassin got too much for me, and the specialist spam filtering service I was using shut down. (My server was receiving an average of 20,000 spams a day, spiking to 60K spams or bounces per day when there was a joe job in progress. Using gmail as a spam filter seemed like the lesser evil.)


Strange you should mention that.
I got a spam email that I traced back to a Chinese address. Normally I don't get too annoyed if its from a company trying to sell a legitimate product, but this one was a scam artist.

So, I replied as requested.
Praising his efforts of raising the consciousness of the Chinese people in his promotion of Falun Gong and Human Rights and hoping for the swift demise (as he promised) of the CCP.

The address vanished rather rapidly


The title of this post made me think it would be about something else, that I was going to ask Our Host: Have you heard about WARBUCKS' new memoir? But that's rather off-topic.

Now, back to reading the relevant comments.


I am one of the mods for the Zerostate forum and have been getting a lot of spam that points to the Bitcoin site (removed by the mods before most people see it)
Which suggests to me that someone has mined a load of them and are trying to talk them up and hence inflate their realworld price. What does concern me is a possible "pumping up" of bitcoin by criminals in the same way penny shares are hyped online (although there's less of that now than there used to be). It implies that bitcoin exchange rates could fluctuate wildly. Just a note for those who are interested in Bitcoin.


Alas, this was a human drive-by, possibly bot-assisted: the web form is distinctly non-standard (I wrote it myself, perl script and all) and the way he'd filled out the fields suggested a human being at work.

Yes, spammers are nearly as dumb -- and bad at reading comprehension -- as their bots.


Has anyone here not read David Langford's seminal New Hope For The Dead? It's only a few pages long, and it's a member of the very exclusive list of short stories that got published in Nature...


Reading takes time and effort. Spammers are, very nearly by definition, not into spending either of those.


I'd be happy to repost that on my pr4 site but it's likely to give him rank more so than opprobrium, Google is aware of cases where people who have a bad rep end up with high page rank from all the press they get, but I'm unconvinced they actually have fixed it algorithmically.


This might sound a little weird, but one of the reasons I post at Charlie's Place is because of the (imho) excellent moderation. Which is to say, with a light and impartial hand[1]. He seems to be impartial about handing yellow cards when the histogram bars indicate possible trollery and - this is important - doesn't offer any of the smarmy excuses for banning I've seen so often. He just says, "This is what you're doing, this is pissing me off, and if you do it again, you're outta here." (again, this may be one of the benefits of outright ownership, so I can't be too harsh on other sites where that happy situation does not accrue.)

What a shame he can't be automated . . .

[1]This is one where I'll give Heinlein his props: he said something once about one of his governments being a combination of complete anarchy with a dash of absolute despotism :-)


What about the other "Andrew Shens" caught in the crossfire? It's going to be hard to find anyone who happens to have the same name as a high-profile black-hat SEO, after he or she gets link-crucified.


You might rethink running your own mail, it seems like the actual spam volume is dropping, there's definitely a difference in the last few years. Blacklists and graylisting seem to fix the problem (simple stats from mine - 3500 rejects from blacklists, one identified by spamassassin and 50 clean messages, probably one in them was missed).


That's a good question, and one that gave me cause for pause before posting. After all, I've only got his [the spammer's] word that he's called "Andrew Shen".

... Which is why I smeared shit all over his URL, just to make sure I was hitting the right target. And if it turns out that the real Andrew Shen is innocent I'll tweak the posting to account for that.

What about the other "Andrew Shens" caught in the crossfire? It's going to be hard to find anyone who happens to have the same name as a high-profile black-hat SEO, after he or she gets link-crucified.

This wouldn't be an oblique reference to Google's recent sallies, would it?


You may think that; but I'm not paid to work as a mail admin, and the additional cognitive overheads of staying abreast of managing an SMTP/IMAP server does not pay.


Aren't you risking some legal comeback either from the Andrew Shen who spammed you or someone of the same name? Esp given the accusations you have made.


Regarding greylisting: I run my own mail. When I started doing this, my home server was a Very Small ARM box with no moving parts, a 266MHz CPU and 32MB of RAM, and was just too small to run SpamAssassin or the like. I ended up writing my own greylisting SMTP proxy. That, coupled with the excellent and ultralightweight Bayesian filter dspam, made my spam problem go away more or less completely. (The advantage of greylisting is that as it rejects the spam before you even have to download it, it reduces the bandwidth cost, and also makes the Bayesian stage much more cost-effective as you've already rejected 90% of the negatives.)

Of course, it can't do anything about human spam. Only Dave Langford's solution would fix that.


I want a head-exploding button for crap like that. While it may not be a deterrent, I figure that eventually the numbers of spammers will dwindle.


Read what I wrote very carefully. He's provably a liar, and the rest is phrased very carefully as my own supposition, not as statements of fact.


Indeed, remember poor old blameless numpty at gmail dot com.


Regarding the overheads in running your own email: absolutely yes. I only do it because (a) it's my home address, not my work one; (b) I need to dogfood spey because otherwise I won't find bugs (like the one I found last week); (c) it's a hobby. I would in no way recommend doing it yourself unless you're a techhead who thinks this sort of thing in fun (which I am). Especially if you need the email address to work to make a living.


Yeah, it is especially funny that he would try to get you to publicize his Google+ "app" shortly after you wrote a long criticism of Google+. If he is indeed a long time reader, his reading comprehension skills are woefully underdeveloped...


That's actually not a terribly exclusive list. I'm a nobody and I've been published there a couple of times. I think because of their strict guidelines (850-950 words, hard SF), Nature Futures is actually kind of starved for material.


It might actually be a bot - a good one that can parse forms and submit the usual crap. Probably it found the page by searching for mentions of G+...


That's ... nasty, but rather funny

I wonder how closely mail is monitored on the other side of the Great Firewall. You might have signed the guy up for involuntary organ donation (for added irony was he trying to sell you black market organs?).


Maybe the point should be on why dumb lies work over and over. In fact there was a study that showed the the higher the paper IQ the more was believed. So long as it was a good story.


I hope Mr Shen hasn't had any electrical appliances repaired recently...

Just read Rule 34 at weekend. Good work.


The first clue that he didn't actually read the blog occurs at the second word: Hi Antipope,

Who here ever addresses you in that way?


(That he is 'a regular reader of' ... well, no such person exists. There may be regular readers of Charlie's Diary, or of Feorag's stuff, and indeed of both. But of the domain as a whole? No-one self-identifies as that.)


A more thorough and thought out request might begin:
"Dear Mr Search Engine Bitch..."


Do you mean to say you black-hole anything from @gmail?


Sorry, I committed the "haven't read all the comments" sin.


I shifted my stuff to my own domain, but links to still work.

It's amusing to think he's an avid reader of my Gosurori sewing stuff though.


What he said is that he routes all his mail through a GMail account, in order to take advantage of their spam filtering.


There are reasons why that would be amusing. Including who would not be able to use a GMail address to reach him.

Hi Antipope,

Who here ever addresses you in that way?

Besides that pretender, Joseph Ratzinger? Or has His Holiness finally banned him from commenting here?


Indeed, that plus the obvious recent damning of G+ might elicit a comment such as "Fail" from the younger members of the community.
Maybe even "0wn3d"?

App Fail?
App Fail Strudel!

OK ... done now. You can come out.


In that case, it will be some human drone in India or China, sitting at a screen and working for pennies per email sent. It's a mini-industry over there.
I have a "Prove you are human" question on my contact forms and virtually all of the contact form spam I get - always purporting to be from somebody in the UK - is time-stamped as being sent during daylight hours in India and the far East.


Request for ignorance enlightenment:

Why does linking to the URL of this... individual... from your popular blog teach him any sort of lesson?

I get that it associates his URL with the keywords "spamming" and "liar", but unless somebody actually searches for "spamming liars", I don't see how that harms him, and in the meantime doesn't it also boost his overall page rank, so boosting him up the search results when people search for the actual terms that he's optimising for (google plus, etc)?

Or in other words, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Or did I just fail SEO forever?


People do cons to make money. Someone must show his face to pit up and hold the goods. A TV show ran their own con and found the safe house holding lots of loot till a other part of the con could pick it up and pass it along.
The only reason this fraud works is that those in power do not want to spend the time and money to stop it. The cops should be able to do what TV did. Find the save house. If nothing else bust them and lock them for long enough that others will see its no longer a safe crime. Then one needed leg of the con will no longer work as well. Countries do bust for that and will give them up. Stop moaning and make the power do what it should.


It merely amuses me to make "lying liar" the top hit on his name when he applies for a job and someone feeds his name to google. Better still if he lists that particular URL on his resumé.


Being in need of work I have recently been looking at sites like which indicates that there is a whole budding industry of specialist spammers who are paid to write bogus comments (or indeed genuine ones - they don't care) inserting the name of the commissioners product subtly enough to evade moderators.

Which makes me wonder just how widespread this actually is and whether eventually I might be forced to become part of a whole invisible class of drones commenting for pennies.

Judging by the often pathetic bids for this work published this may also be the one field where Anglo-American university graduates are not going to get outsourced to India or China any time soon.


I would never stoop so low.
But feel free to visit my site and buy VIAGRA.
[Or maybe not]


Thank you for this! It reminds me of Vinge's cookie monster. With added delicious irony.


This reminds me of a very instructive blog post from a darkish-gray-hat hacker when some poor fool sent spam to him. He used the opportunity to write a long post detailing how to use freely available web services and tools to systematically locate and expose to public view the real-world person behind the spam (I think he stopped before revealing bank accounts, but most of the rest of
the spammer's life was laid out in detail along with how it was accomplished). Returning to the original post again, it appears that the spammer ended up vowing to go straight and begging to have his name expunged from the post, apparently in an attempt to slow down the tidal wave of hate mail he was getting.


Most spam is sent from zombie machines ie botnets and is untraceable, except to the poor suckers whose machines are infected


After some googling:

There is a "andrew shen" identity on G+ and it apparently runs "". It describes itself as: " was created by a google fans - Andrew Shen" -- slightly weird, but I'll call it "he" -- "Andrew 'the plural' Shen". This Andrew is also rather faceless, after some superficial digging.

His IP serves two other domains: expired and for sale "" (probably FB was not interested) and "" (rather completely pointless).

All three sites have an "andrew@" as an admin.

Further: WHOIS street addresses link the other sites (not chromefans) with something called "SWREG Inc". And this SWREG has no friends in the net (according to google).

Whoever he is, he is a lying liar, because of at least some of the other points.

If he actually distributes something wormy/virusy/spammy through his "chormefans" I have no idea. The "chromefans" site looks somewhat fishy.


Ack. As someone who regularly posts as "Andrew S" I'd like to disassociate myself with this spamming liar!

Not me.

(I also get frequent web-form-spam offers to increase my page rank. Usually when I look up the IP address it's coming from India from someone with a really white name.)


I get those too, and they're clearly spam because I don't have an index page. My website just holds files I want online.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on August 29, 2011 6:17 PM.

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