Comment Spam, She’s Back: Dr. Ann Voisin From Linda Christas College

by Klaus on March 6, 2010

in Blogging

A few days ago I wrote about the first comment spam that I received from this Dr. Ann Voisin person, a message that is most likely automated and simply abusing the name of the real Dr. Ann Voisin from Linda Christas College. Click here to read that post: Akismet Blocking Your Blog? No Way, Just a SPAM Trick!

Well, now she’s back. This time “she” wrote a comment on my “Conan O’Brien On Twitter: Sarah Killen, Your Life Is About To Change“-post. Here it is:

This is a test to determine if this site is still blocking ToysPeriod as a home web site.

If you have found this in your spam folder, your site is still blocking our grad students using ToysPeriod as their home page.

They would love to comment here, and they will do so again, as soon as I am notified that you have unblocked ToysPeriod.com.

ToysPeriod is a scholarship provider. They have not left comments on your site.

Also, please remember that ALL comments to this site from the College go through the LC Help Desk, so the IP addresses will be similar or identical.

Thank you for unblocking our scholarship provider, ToysPeriod.com

Dr. Ann Voisin, Provost,
Linda Christas College

Very strange…!

Comments & Leave a Comment

comments

Deborah March 6, 2010 at 23:50

Hi Klaus! Tears are streaming from my eyes from laughing so much. I’m starting to see more and more blogs commenting on this strange situation. I’ve seen a few other blogs, after running a search, where similar messages have made it through the spam filter and showed up as comments … even though the comments that appeared all complain of not showing because of Akismet! LOL!

Here’s an example, if I didn’t explain it well:

http://www.10e20.com/blog/2010/02/25/youtube-puts-another-nail-in-the-coffin-of-ie6/

And another (at this point I was gagging from laughing so hard because the very thing they’re complaining about is making it through the filter):

http://www.scenicadelaide.com/2010/02/20/the-adelaide-arcade-a-great-place-to-shop/

Google it and you’ll find a bunch of them.

This morning, I had several hundred comments awaiting review and just blanket deleted ’em because I didn’t have time to go through them, although I did notice at the top three from our Linda Christas friends that were similar to what you had and copied one of them. A new name was added to the mix of people all using the same IP (which happens to be the same IP as the Toys Period website). Here’s one of the messages (two of the same posted within 2 minutes) from someone claiming to be Lara DeSoleil of the Linda Christas College Help Desk:

“All 20 scholarship students who are interested in this site (because it has been assigned by one of our professors for superior content) are being automatically sent to spam by Akismet.

“If the censorship continues, we will have to remove [NAME OF SITE] from the white list of academic sites visited by our grad students.

“We have already had to ask our 6800 students not to use Akismet because of the severe censorship involved with that plugin.

“Our students would love to participate in this discussion. However, there’s no point if Akismet is being used.

“Akismet throws everything into spam where the innocent scholarship provider is named as home page, even though the scholarship provider is not a blogger, and our students never leave spam.

“They may disagree with a comment, but that is not spam.”

In another message, they likened Akismet to creating censorship worse than in China.

All I can say is this … If 6800 of these students all removed Akismet from their blogs, then they’ll be spending most of their study hours deleting spam.

This is one of the strangest things I’ve seen in the commenting arena. In the meantime, I am inclined to delete anything coming from that IP if I happen to notice it in my pages and pages of comments pending review simply for the fact that they are giving harmful and irresponsible advice to people online. Removing Akismet can be the death of a blog. To do so is ill advised and in my opinion, not particularly of high academic value.

If this is a real university, perhaps they’re doing some sort of “study” on how people react to bizarre blog messages. If so, it’s clever and humorous in an odd way, but on the other hand, very irresponsible, particularly if newbies are following the advice because they think it has academic authority.

Klaus @ TechPatio March 7, 2010 at 00:32

Hi again Deborah – I’m surprised to see you here so fast after having just published this post a few hours ago 🙂

Some interesting examples you found there – and very ironic (and funny) how the posts appeared while claming that akismet would block them 😀

I’m clueless as to what is going on. With the first message a few days ago, I thought it was clear it was something spammy – but now, with this, so quickly after, I don’t know if it’s a (automated) study or if they really have people trying to get bloggers to turn off akismet. Could also just be spambots working a little on the side, trying to disable akismet for when the big spambots are getting back to their day shift.

Whatever it is- it’ll be exciting to see if we hear anything from them again.

It’s probably the CIA.

Deborah March 7, 2010 at 00:41

LOL! Klaus, you’ve become my first source to go to see if there’s any more Linda Christas news! I thought I’d take a break and see if anyone else had the same thing and of course, visited you and ta-da, there it was!

Klaus @ TechPatio March 7, 2010 at 00:42

In that case, I hope I will spot any (new) future comments from her/him/them/it 🙂 I don’t pay attention to the IP address when I quickly look through my spam queue though.

Sire March 7, 2010 at 01:11

Thanks Deborah. One of those links was from my scenicadelaide blog. I’ve had my doubts about this person. Now that I know I’ve spammed the comment. She belongs in Akismet.

Thanks for the post Klaus.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..In Defence Of A Bloggers Right To Review A Product =-.

Deborah March 7, 2010 at 01:46

Hi Sire! They come off sort of “iffy” at first and some of the comments relate to the posts, which is what threw me off track the first time around. Thanks to Klaus, the picture is getting more clear.

What made me suspicious was seeing several people all allegedly associated with the toys website, all having the same viewpoint and writing style, and all having the same IP commenting on one of my blogs, sometimes to one another.

I got some pretty nasty responses from them when Akismet started filtering their submissions and not letting them through.

I agree with you Sire … anyone who gives advice to turn of Akismet should be added to the Akismet filter. I’m not sure whether someone is trying to give the people associated with Linda Christas a bad reputaion, so I’ve been watching the IP, which is the same as both the college site and the toys site. It is wholly irresponsible.

Sire March 7, 2010 at 02:02

I noticed the same IP but thought that perhaps they were all using the same college computer or something. What first made me suspicious was when she left a link in a comment, on that one you provided the link for, thanks for that ;), was when she actually linked to the toys site from within the comment. I told her that was why she probably had her comments spammed.

I just saved that comment from the trash so that others can see it for what it is, but I’ve delinked the url.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..In Defence Of A Bloggers Right To Review A Product =-.

Steve | Weight Loss Weapons March 10, 2010 at 03:57

Hi Klaus,

I haven’t seen anything in my spam folder from the good doctor or Toysperiod (weird name for a scholarship site?) yet but I have seen similar “test” comments from people trying to get out of Akismets bad books.

Lately I’ve been seeing a ton of spam comments linking to forum posts, I think that is the latest trend in comment spamming.

@Sire of the 59,000 + spam comments I’ve received I have only saved 5.

Steve
.-= Steve | Weight Loss Weapons´s last blog ..Running with Nike Plus =-.

Ricky March 10, 2010 at 10:12

Lol. this is really funny. Innovative way to fool the people
.-= Ricky´s last blog ..Simplegant 1.1 Wordpress Theme Is Coming Soon-Need Beta Testers =-.

Michelle Mangen March 28, 2010 at 20:19

Ohhhhhh thanks for the heads up – here I’m spending all this time trying to help figure out what the issue is and have had numerous emails with her as well.

Guess I’ll trash them.
.-= Michelle Mangen´s last blog ..How to Move Data in One Row in Excel to One Column =-.

Klaus @ TechPatio March 29, 2010 at 09:26

Hi Michelle – I’m glad this has helped you 🙂 There’s a lot more information available in the original post (in the comments section): http://techpatio.com/2010/blogging/akismet-blocking-blog-spam-trick

Leoneleon56 April 21, 2010 at 00:00

You guys are all missing the point.

Our entire college, Linda Christas, is on the same IP address (6800 strong), all messages going through a central help desk.

Instead of dealing with the issue, which is one already reported to the American Civil Liberties Union, that is, the wholesale trashing of ethnic, women and politically unpopular positions, you guys are trashing the messenger, Dr. Voisin, as a spammer.

Dr. Voisin is our Provost and has nothing to do with ToysPeriod. ToysPeriod’s only sin is to be generous in supporting kids with tuition money.

In other words, Akismet is trashing ToysPeriod because of their generosity to students. They, ToysPeriod, never ever spam anybody because they never write to anybody.

Keep it up guys. What you are doing is showing that you don’t know your trade very well.

Any so called SEO manager who would advise people to violate the first rule of business by using a spam filter, Akismet, that trashes potential clients sight unseen needs to advertise his/her ignorance, which is exactly what you are doing here.

Just demonstrating once again that you guys don’t get it.

Akismet breaks the law every day because of the anonymity of its banning practices.

But, worse than that, they are bad for business.

And, also, you guys are evidently bad for business too just because you cannot seem to understand the issue.

As a business major, I can tell you, you would never get a degree from LC College.

But, go ahead, the more you expose your own ignorance of the principles of good business, the more you would be avoided by folks who would have followed your lead if you had been more subtle about giving bad advice.

Leone, Class of ’12

Klaus @ TechPatio April 21, 2010 at 00:14

Leone, I’m sorry to say that I believe you are the one who’s missing the point 🙂

Akismet doesn’t have anything to do with SEO. What Akismet does, is to block REAL comment spam (and it has done that in 99.063% of the cases correctly, for me, according to the stats). It doesn’t have anything to do with Search Engine Optimization.

From an outsider, it looks an awful lot like Dr. Voisin is having a preference for “do follow blogs” where she can put ToysPeriod as a website when commenting and (possibly) get a link back to that site. Well, if you look at it like that, then sure, Akismet might have an influence on *your* SEO – but not ours. What you’re trying to say, is that *we* (bloggers) ruin *your* SEO – if I understand you correctly. Just remember, it’s our own decision if we want to be “do follow” or not, and if we do, who we want to link to. And Linda Christas college and ToysPeriod is not a website I want to provide “link juice” to.

Leoneleon56 April 21, 2010 at 00:14
Leoneleon56 April 21, 2010 at 00:25

Message placed on 10e20

Dear Victor,

This was my response to two so-called SEO consultants who just don’t get it. All LC students are on the same IP. Leone

Response to charge that Dr. Ann is a spammer:

Go ahead and laugh away guys. You are attacking the wrong bad guy and laughing in your foolishness in public.

Next time, before going public with your support for something of which you know little, perhaps you will understand two things:

1) Akismet is under investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union

2) Akismet is terrible for business in that they trash prospective clients sight unseen.

Dr. Voisin’s (Our provost) interest was strictly stoked because ToysPeriod does provide several of our students with scholarship money.

They never spammed anyone in their lives. You would know this simply by doing appropriate research.

However, Akismet has banned them, again anonymously, and for no stated public reason other than they can.

Didn’t you ever feel sorry for a wounded puppy, a small helpless beast being kicked just because it is helpless.

Well, that’s what Dr. Ann was reacting to.

Here we have a vendor minding its own business, generously supporting students, and Akismet comes along and bans them anonymously, no stated reason except someone somewhere, evidently decided that their messages (which they never sent) are spam.

Jeez guys, when you get something wrong, you REALLY go out of your way to bring attention toy your errors in public.

Leone Class of ’12 Linda Christas College
.-= Leoneleon56´s last blog ..Ex-President Nelson Mandela Offered Omar Dullah Chair of Freedom – Linda Christas College =-.

Klaus @ TechPatio April 21, 2010 at 00:29

So, what’s the bottom line here – you believe that it’s your *right* to be able to comment on the blogs you want to comment on, AND, get a link back to whatever site you want?

Leoneleon56 April 21, 2010 at 00:29

Response to Genius Geeks left on their web site:

Dear Ricky,

rest of this message is removed by TechPatio, as it has the same content as this one: http://techpatio.com/2010/blogging/dr-ann-voisin-linda-christas-college-spam-comment/comment-page-1#comment-12295

Klaus @ TechPatio April 21, 2010 at 00:49

For some reason, Leone (Linda Christas College) has decided to take the discussion over to another post that’s about the iPad, instead… here are the comments: http://techpatio.com/2010/tech-news/ipad-unpack-disassembly-stop-motion-video/comment-page-1#comment-12301

Deborah April 21, 2010 at 00:51

Leone,

The tone of your writing shows why I personally had such a problem with the types of comments I was receiving on one of my blogs from people claiming to be writing as Linda Christas students. Are students not allowed to comment independently from home, thus having a different IP? Do teachers lean over each person, carefully observing the student as he or she types comments on do comment blogs? If this is the case, are these people under 18 and thus breaking the terms and conditions of various COPA compliant blogs that restrict minors from participating?

I am curious whether all students at Linda Christas have removed Akismet or any other spam filtering software from their blogs as those of us in the “do follow” blogging community have been instructed to do by Linda Christas and if so, what their experiences have been in dealing with the volume of porn and nonsense that is submitted constantly.

I completely agree with Klaus’ response to you — and yes, I do have a business degree.

Klaus @ TechPatio April 21, 2010 at 01:01

Nice to see you back again Deborah. After having received seven comments from Leone in less than an hour (most of them being duplicates), I’m considering *manually* blocking their IP address from ever commenting again. It’s the exact same IP address as the comments from Dr. Ann Voisin by the way, so I would be getting rid of both of them at the same time – I just hope they don’t sue me for taking away their “rights” to get backlinks from my blog 😀

To be honest, I don’t really care what kind of college they are and what kind of blogs/bloggers they deal with. I just don’t want them coming here and telling me that Akismet is ruining it for them and telling me (and other bloggers, for that matter) to disable Akismet and allow for tons of porn spam etc. to be posted.

Deborah April 21, 2010 at 01:10

I agree with you, Klaus! Sorry for the typos in my previous comment. I think my multitasking is on overload.

It’s typical that you will receive several comments all within an hour, throughout your blog, from that IP. For awhile there, I was getting them from “different people” all at the same IP and having writing styles that were almost exactly the same. For example, I’d get one from Joe, a minute later, one from Anna, a minute later, one from the doctor, two minutes later, George and so forth. Some of these had the exact same “copy and paste” text, even though they were supposedly written by separate people.

You should give notice on your blog that the IP will be banned if comments continue to flood in to unrelated topics. The “do follow” links are our gifts to people who decide to comment. To get attacked as you have just been attacked by the LC people is disrespectful.

BTW, I see your Alexa is now at 91296 – That’s awesome! Congrats!

Leoneleon56 April 21, 2010 at 00:53

Message to Michelle. This is a copy of what I left on her blog.

Hi Michelle,

Since you seemed to support Tech Patio in their errors, I wanted to cc you on this message that I posted there only a short time ago. They got is so wrong, I thought I would at least give it a try.

Here’ my request of Tech Patio for a retraction:

In case Tech Patio wants to print a retraction (slim chance I know), here are the facts.

ToysPeriod uses lots of its profits to support a private system of education that the US Department of Education has in 2009 claimed to be a much better vehicle for teaching than face to face classroom formats, as those we use in our public schools in the US.

Many of us understand what they, ToysPeriod, are trying to do, and then there are some that will make ToysPeriod pay for any good deed.

ToysPeriod not only provides Linda Christas College with web service, but also with some scholarship money for students, including me.

So, naturally, when people misunderstand the situation, it’s like sticking a dagger into my heart.

Why would anyone do such a thing to begin with? Well, people are people, and as such, there are always some who will look for the worst possible interpretation of the facts in support of their own “superiority.”

In this case, the superiority turns out to be public foolishness.

ToysPeriod never spammed anyone in their lives. Akismet is under investigation and may be shut down or sued because of Civil Rights abuses, and new business owners who want to encourage business (and why wouldn’t they) are finding that at least 5% of potential business is trashed by Akismet’s anonymous banning processes in addition to 5% that the site might lose anyway.

Let’s see if you do the right thing here. I bet not.

Why not stop by ToysPeriod for a backlink. They are a Do Follow blog. I bet you will not find a better written blog anywhere. Why not turn acid in lemonade.

Leone Parette, LC class of ‘12
BA Business, Emphasis, Environmental Sustainability

Leoneleon56 April 21, 2010 at 01:35

Dear Klaus,

In addition to her duties as Provost, I understand that Dr. Voisin is gathering information regarding how Akismet is used.

She has attempted to get them to respond to reason, but, evidently they are not willing to do that.

You probably know this already, but WordPress provides new businesses with the majority of Do Follow opportunities.

Therefore, if one is studying Akismet behavior, one is forced to go where they are functional, and that happens to be on WordPress Do Follow blogs.

However, you will note that BOTH Linda Christas College and ToysPeriod are do follow, but do NOT use a blind spam filter like Akismet, nor are they WordPress.

This is unusual, since WordPress is a very attractive blog platform without the blogger having to have otherworldly tech abilities.

Think what you will about Dr. Voisin. However, again, you are taking facts and interpreting them without the benefit of understanding what is happening in the white hat world.

Why not get on the good guys’ side, Klaus?

The first principle of business is to NEVER trash a potential client.

When a person is successful, 1% of trashing can amount to hundreds or even thousands of visitors to a site having a bad experience having nothing to do with spamming.

As you may know also, every bad experience produces NINE bad stories about a business. Every nine good experiences produce ONE good story.

You do the math, Klaus, and determine if you really want to sacrifice the 1% of your business for the sake of personal convenience.

Simply have ALL comments go to moderation is infinitely better than obviously trashing the innocent.

At least that’s what our business profs think. You may disagree.

However, I can only appeal to your sense of right. If the person being banned unfairly was someone you cared about, would you still be as bland as you seem to be about this problem?

Regards,

Leone, Class of ’12
Linda Christas College
BA Business, Emphasis Environmental Sustainability

Klaus @ TechPatio April 21, 2010 at 10:45

You wrote:
“You probably know this already, but WordPress provides new businesses with the majority of Do Follow opportunities.”

I’m not sure that’s a very good strategy for your SEO, depending on a blogging platform to allow for dofollow links. And I’m quite sure that’s not what Google had in mind either, when they tell us to get organic links the natural way, by creating content that people want to link to – not by webmasters running around on do follow blogs to comment in order to get link backs. Also, I have a feeling that Google is clever enough to distinguish between links in comments area and real links created by others.

You wrote:
“Simply have ALL comments go to moderation is infinitely better than obviously trashing the innocent.”

That might work best for you, but not for me. I don’t have time to moderate all comments. As I wrote several times now, Akismet has more than 99% success rate in filtering spam on my behalf – the final 1% I spot myself, before I empty the spam queue.

And finally – if people wants to do business with me, they are likely to contact me – and not post a comment for everybody to see 🙂

 

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