By Jared Olar
It has now been more than eight years since the Pekin Public Library launched “From the History Room,” beginning with the April 23, 2011 column “Glee club not just a modern phenomenon” by Reference Assistant Linda Mace (about the Girls Glee Club mentioned in the 1915 Pekin Community High School catalog).
“From the History Room” started as a weekly newspaper column published in the Saturday edition of the Pekin Daily Times. Since July 21, 2015, an expanded or augmented version of each week’s new column is also posted every Friday at the Pekin Public Library’s “From the History Room” weblog (Fromthehistoryroom.wordpress.com).
Over the years our “mailbag” has been filled with a great deal of positive responses from people interested in matters of Pekin’s and Tazewell County’s history. Sometimes it’s a simple message of gratitude or praise, but we’ve also benefited from the historical insight of our readers. Several of the “From the History Room” weblog posts/columns were prompted either by queries from readers or by fascinating information that has been provided.
Nevertheless, there is one drawback to running an internet blog: by far the greatest proportion of “responses” to our history columns don’t come from real human beings at all (which is to say, they’re not really responses at all). As the author of “From the History Room,” one of my responsibilities is to check the blog’s Spam Folder to see if any genuine comments were mistakenly sent there. I must admit that Word Press has provided an effective and accurate spam-catcher. It’s very rare for me to find a genuine comment trapped there, and only once in the past four years have I had to delete a spam comment that somehow made it through the Word Press spam filter.
A wall of spam outside of the the Cannon Theatre in Littleton, Massachusetts, during the first day of ticket sales for Spamalot. PHOTO BY ‘FREEZELIGHT’ at https://www.flickr.com/photos/63056612@N00/155554663/
Scanning through the spam folder is usually a mild annoyance, but at times the emotion of annoyance yields to mild amusement as I read the bot-generated fake messages that spammers, hackers, and identity thieves hope to post in our weblog’s comment boxes. I thought I’d select a few so you might get an idea of what I get to read every week:
Probably our most prolific source of spam comes from “Tankli Tunkli,” which seems to be based in the nation of Georgia in the region of the Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian seas. I could understand if someone from the U.S. state of Georgia were interested in Tazewell County’s local history, but it’s highly unlikely that Georgian nationals care a whit about Nathan Cromwell, W. H Bates, or Everett Dirksen.
Many of Tankli Tunkli’s most recurrent spam messages sound pretty innocuous. Here are two examples that were sent using different Gmail accounts:
“I discovered your site from Google and also I need to say it was a fantastic find. Thanks!”
“Can you inform me what platform are you using on this website?”
I always have to roll my eyes at the thought that a spammer programmed a bot to spit out this question. But then, the bot is incapable of knowing that the Word Press blog it is spamming is a . . . Word Press blog.
We also get quite a lot of messages that are nothing but gibberish or a series of sentence fragments strung together. Here’s one that allegedly came from Buildyourownshedsite.wordpress.com:
“We were 3000 miles from your own home when my heart gave up as well as over 50% of it died and scarred over, put simply cannot pump ever again. As the latest member of Toy Story series, the movie tells the tale of how Woody leads his squad to obtain free of day-care center to obtain back to Andy. WHERE TO BUY Buying a guitar from your physical retail music store lets you.”
Then there’s the foreign-language gibberish, like this one from Udonax:
“Muito obrigado ao DEs artrite reumatГіide coceira e outros colaboradores neste fГіrum para informar turnГЄ cГ¬rculo maravilhoso da minha famГ¬lia do HavaГ¬ nos.”
The hard-working bots at Tankli Tunkli also spewed out a series of blessedly brief but unimaginatively dull spam messages, each one of them purportedly coming from different people, like so:
Chara: “Do you have any type of ideas for writing articles? That’s where I always battle and also I simply end up looking vacant screen for very long time.”
(Hey, Chara, I know the feeling . . .)
Isabell: “Your website has exceptional material. I bookmarked the website.”
(Thanks, Isabell – or should I say, “Tankli very much!”)
Percy: “I located your internet site from Google and I have to say it was a wonderful find. Thanks!”
(Ah, that one again . . .)
Bessie (Tankli): “Do you have any type of ideas for composing articles? That’s where I constantly battle and also I just finish up gazing vacant display for lengthy time.”
(You and Chara seem to have the same problem . . .)
Jean: “Hi there! Such a nice short article, thanks!”
(This one is pretty funny, because anyone who has read my history columns knows very well that not too many of them could be called “short.”)
Here’s another gibberish message from Vegetta777 Skywars. I think it’s one of my favorites, as it appears from it that Vegetta777’s claims regarding the tale of the San Diego tiger have in fact been disproved by the fact that a head of hair is a good sun-shield:
“Based on the latest polls, we’ve got a statistical dead heat in Iowa on all parties of the aisle. Finally, currently has the tale of the San Diego tiger. FALSE: Head of hair acts being a shield with the sun.”
Here’s a sample spam message that is a common variation of a message that appears in our spam folder every week. This one comes from King4d (Valtrex.news):
“Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog article or vice-versa? My blog goes over a lot of the same subjects as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you! Fantastic blog by the way!”
Well, King4d, that’s really “kinda” you to say and all, but really, writing weekly posts for “From the History Room” is quite enough for me.
I’ll wrap this up with just a few words of advice courtesy of our regular spammers. “Wilhelmina” wanted the readers of “From the History Room” to know that, “The Tiller. This assists to improve its stability.” On the other hand, “Sherlene” wants you to remember, “Tolerance – Do not over-trade your accounts.”
It should surprise no one that “Sherlene” is merely the fake handle of someone or something called “Nigerianforex.”
Nigerian For Ex. Of course.
Learn more about Pekin and Tazewell County history, read past columns, view slideshows and photo galleries, post comments and suggestions, and keep up to date on the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection at https://fromthehistoryroom.wordpress.com/. We love hearing from you – real people, that is, not spambots.