A novel way to spam blogs for SEO

On March 18th, I received the following email:

On 18 March 2012 16:26, Jen Rhee <thisisjenica@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi Eric,

I came across your site and wanted to share my infographic about Wikipedia and how it’s redefining the way we research. I saw that you had talked about the first wiki developer, Ward Cunningham, which is why I thought you and your readers might find it interesting! Would you be interested in taking a look? Let me know, as I’d love to get your thoughts on it!

Thanks,
Jen R.

I have never heard of that person. I had mentioned Ward Cunningham a couple of times on my blog, although never in relation to wikis. I thought this was a curious email, and decided to ignore it.

One week later, I received another email:

On 25 March 2012 23:39, Jen Rhee <thisisjenica@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi Eric,

I reached out to you last week and wanted to follow up with you again, in case you missed my email or possibly didn’t receive it. I’ve included my original message below:

I came across your site and wanted to share my infographic about Wikipedia and how it’s redefining the way we research. I saw that you had talked about the first wiki developer, Ward Cunningham, which is why I thought you and your readers might find it interesting! Would you be interested in taking a look? Let me know, as I’d love to get your thoughts on it!

Thanks again,
Jen

I ignored it again.

Finally, I just today received a third email:

On 31 March 2012 13:30, Jen Rhee <thisisjenica@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi Eric,

I wanted to follow up once more to see if you received my previous email regarding a graphic I wanted to share about how Wikipedia is redefining the way we research. My team and I created it, and I would love to get your thoughts.

My apologies if you’ve received my request already, but let me know if you’d be interested in taking a look.

Much thanks,
Jen

This time, I decided to investigate a bit. It didn’t take me long to find a Twitter account for a certain Jenica Rhee which looks reasonably legit. But it also turns out that I am not the only one to receive emails from her. There is even a whole Google+ thread on the topic.

I must admit that this approach is smarter than the usual. The emails I got are really well written for an automated approach (could there be a real human being behind each of them?). The sample infographics I could find seem surprisingly well made (though accuracy is probably debatable). It is also not obvious how they got my email address, as it is not one of the two or three I use the most — although it is not hard to find it with a bit of Google’ing.

All in all, rather clever. And spam-worthy.

About Eric Lefevre-Ardant

Independent technical consultant.
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