Image credit:WordPress Free Photo Library

Feedback from other bloggers is the lifeblood of many an online outpouring. I know I look forward to these responses, and I try to give back my share of them to other bloggers.

But there is a certain kind of feedback that raises one’s hopes, only to dash them. Here is one example, of the type you may be familiar with:

You’re so interesting! I don’t believe I have read through a single thing like that before. So wonderful to discover somebody with some unique thoughts on this subject. Really… thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that is required on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

It’s been a while since I’ve visited flim-flam spam flummery on this blog. As I’ve mentioned once or twice before, I occasionally check through spam comments to see if any genuine remarks have been hoovered up.

Mostly they haven’t.

Continue reading “Gratuitous”

Looking for the moral

The story is told. I think I now see the judicious reader putting on his spectacles to look for the moral. It would be an insult to his sagacity to offer directions. I only say, God speed him in the quest!

I have noticed that many bloggers post apposite quotes from time to time on their blogs. Stuff from a book they’ve read. Something a writer in the public eye has written or said in an interview. Sometimes they post a collection of quotes they’ve liked, rather as compilers of commonplace books used to do in olden days.

Commonplace books? If you didn’t know they were, maybe still are, a bit like literary scrapbooks but without the cutting and pasting. (At least one hopes not — it would be awful to imagine books being vandalised in such a way, rather as dealers remove prints from vintage books to frame and sell to people who want to add cachet to their mock Tudor semi-detached homes.)

Anyway, I digress.

Continue reading “Looking for the moral”

Post-truth: alive and well

Romanesque grotesque on font, Brecon Cathedral

It’s time, whether you like it or not, for some more superfluous post-truth arse-licking material (better known by its initials) to be analysed and then despatched down the refuse chute. First up is in the category of irrelevant statements.

I decided to have some shared funds to diversify my cash.

Yeah, like anyone cares, Anonymous Person. Unless of course I click on your link … and then my cash may well be diversified to somewhere I can’t access or even trace.

Flattery will get you nowhere
Some posters try the oleaginous, unctuous approach, occasionally in a language that’s other than broken English.

Hi, all is going nicely here and of course every one is sharing facts, that’s genuinely excellent, keep up writing.

The truth is, everyone is sharing lies, not facts, and that’s not genuinely excellent. But I’m glad for the observation that all is going nicely here.

I am honestly grateful towards this site who has provided this passage that is wonderful at here’s proprietor.

Aw, sweet. I do like a statement that suggests I can trust the speaker. As with the politician who answers an interviewer’s question with, “Well, to be honest …” Of course, we were always hoping you as a politician would say something approaching the truth.

I could not refrain from commenting. Well written!

Thanks. But honestly, I wish you really had refrained.

Me a encantado el articulo, un saludo.

Hola! to you too. And your point is … ?

Good posts, beautiful blog. Congratulations.
Welcome to see my creations …

I was nearly convinced there. Until you invited me up to see your etchings.

Now some questions that require no answers, but I honestly couldn’t refrain from commenting:

Fantastic post, however, I was wanting to know if you could write a little more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Kudos!

Ah, you’d like me to write a little bit more? There, is that enough?

And here’s a couple of questions that obviously originate from one and the same source:

1. This post is worth everyone’s focus. When can I find more out?

2. This post may be everyone’s that is worth consideration. When could I find more out?

Well, dummy, you can find out more when you bother to read the article in the first place.

You can’t beat combo
Last in the current batch of superfluous post-truth arse-licking material is what must be the ideal comment: one that combines irrelevancy, flattery and pointless questions. Here is a recent contender.

Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is important and everything. But think about if you added some great visuals or videos to give your posts more “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and videos, this website could undeniably be one of the very best in its field. Fantastic blog!

Undeniably your comment is one of the very best in its field, and what is says is important and everything. Sadly, all it’s missing is a bit more pop. Anyway, my friend, you could try reading the actual content of my blog first, maybe try the words? Welcome to my creations.

• WARNING The grammar police have gone through these unsolicited messages with a fine-toothed comb. However some mistakes have slipped through the net for the purposes of establishing authenticity


Sheltered bay seen from the Pembrokeshire Coast footpath


“This is the bestest website in the worlds!”

I rather liked this one-off comment in a recent post. Try saying it in your choice of voice — breathless, maybe, or like that raspy voice-over in film trailers.

What a compliment! The bestest website — very Shakespearean that — the doubled superlative intensifying and raising calmgrove to the pinnacle of perfection, the apogee of worthiness, the zenith of …

But then the flatterer spoils it all. The bestest in the universe of worlds? That very plurality pricks the bubble of satisfaction I’ve inflated around me: the lickspittle is clearly inviting me to partake of a fantasy existence where offworld civilisations acknowledge the primacy of my creation. I’m left to wonder why such an obvious appeal to ego has been left, what purpose it serves for me or for the sychophant.

So far this is the bestest [sic] of all the spam comments I’ve had (if spam it is, as the compliment-giver doesn’t seem to be selling anything). Mostly I’m addressed as “Dear Web Admin, I notice …” or am invited to purchase fake branded clothing and accessories.

So I wonder what’s the most fatuous comment you’ve had to one of your posts, the most insincere compliment you’ve been paid, or the mostest ridiculous observation that has ever graced your inbox? (No names, no pack drill!) Can you top this acme of acuity?

Sorry, I meant vacuity.

Poetry spam


Now you may’ve heard of ‘poetry slams’ (confession: I’ve never been to one) so you may quibble at this post’s title: some mistake, surely?

But no, ‘poetry spam’ is what I meant. If you google Spam Lit or Spoetry or Found Literature you’ll get the gist — poems made from the nonsense titles or text in spams — or even the reverse, spam email text based on poetry.

I’m one of those sad people who trawl through my WordPress spam messages — to check if any genuine messages and comments have been mistakenly filtered out, you understand — and you may be one of those types too. Akismet (who despite the odd glitch efficiently sort out the gratuitous from the genuine) has recently netted five of these for me. (This is about average for every week or so, though it sometimes easily rises to double figures.) And while the spam comments didn’t fool me I found them strangely fascinating, with an enigmatic quality.

Continue reading “Poetry spam”

Hats off!

European beaver: Per Harald Olsen, Wikipedia Commons
European beaver: Per Harald Olsen, Wikipedia Commons

WordPress and Akismet have had some bad press recently, either from Support Forums or more particularly from disgruntled blogs, because of bona fide comments on blogs going straight to spam.

While the advice was to ‘be patient’ it was nevertheless very frustrating as time went by and requests for information were seemingly ignored.

Nevertheless, with little fanfare the issue seems to have been resolved for a number of UK-based bloggers in the last day or so, and we would like to express our appreciation for what must have been a particularly intractable problem. Hats off to all involved in beavering away behind the scenes! Let’s hope that whatever caused this kind of blip never resurfaces again.

TBM at
calmgrove at

Spam, wonderful spam…


Akismet are the people who monitor WordPress blogs for spam. Well of course you knew that.

In their own words they monitor millions of blogs and forums, watching the methods and tricks used by spammers in real time. We know all about their spambots, comment factories, buffer sites and social engineering tricks. Akismet will use this knowledge to warn you when a spammer – automated or human – tries to sneak a spam comment past you.

So if you notice a comment in your spam folder from someone you don’t know, or linking to a web site you’ve never seen before, take a good look at it before you hit the Unspam button: in all likelihood, Akismet put it there for a reason.

This is a great service, and until about four days ago I very much appreciated it. I’d check the comments before deleting them and, yes, they were all bona fide (is that the right term to use in this case?) spam.

But on the 12th July I started to find that comments I’d posted on blogs I followed were disappearing just as soon I clicked on the ‘Post Comment’ button. Browsing WordPress Support Forums showed that I was very much not alone; and one blogger claimed that they’d had this problem for fifteen months. Surely when Akismet say their quest is “to rid the web of spam” they didn’t have this in mind?

WordPress staff assure us that Akismet are working hard to solve this issue on a case-by-case basis, and ask bloggers with this problem to be patient. In turn I wish to reassure bloggers I follow that if they’re not receiving my usual compliments or argumentative discourses it’s not because I’m neglecting them; you might just need to check your spam folder.

Of course I’d tell them all personally, but in the current circumstances…

Spam, wonderful spam.