Monday, October 15, 2007

On Spam, Google, Curt Bonk and Flying Fish

It's been said that I spend too much time on the Net, so to save time I've been trying out Google Alerts.
Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. Some handy uses of Google Alerts include: * monitoring a developing news story * keeping current on a competitor or industry * getting the latest on a celebrity or event * keeping tabs on your favorite sports teams
I have a few alerts running, one of which is for the "University of Glamorgan".
To be honest the responses I get for this query are fairly mundane and repetitive but on October 12th. I was intrigued to notice a message which included the following text.
UK E-Learning Reflections: UK leads the way or does it?
Monday the 15th was spent in Wales with a presentation to teachers of the future of ICT and schools at the University of Glamorgan ......
What caught my eye in this instance, is that I was there, I heard the presentation and after the event read the speaker's blog and therefore recognised the posting. (It's true I spend oo much time on the Net)

The speaker was Curt Bonk from Indianna University, the talk took place on January 15th at the University of Glamorgan, Treforest and he blogged about it on January 20th.. The talk was memorable; the speaker threw me a stuffed fish, and the blog made for interesting reading.
Why then, should it appear in a Google alert ten months after the event?

Following the provided link I found myself reading Curt's blog entry again, but this time on an anonymous blog, made of pieces cut and pasted from the net; 23 random articles, copied without reference their original source.
Examination of the page reveals that each article has been tampered with and links to commercial sites added.

It's spam!

The problem here is that I nearly fell for it.
The spam came courtesy of Google.
Google Alerts sent me the link.

Reader beware!

PS. (added 17.10.07)
My most recent Google alert message arrived yesterday informing me that this post existed!

If I were to adjust the settings on my alerts it would be interesting to explore how long it takes for an alert to be sent.
I'm just curious.

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