My What Big Balls You Have, RealInsurance.Com.Au! All The Better To Kick You In!

The ballsiest spammer I've ever encountered was an attorney who claimed that the desecration of Popehat with filler comments linking to his own site, a la:

Really enjoyed reading your blog post.  I will have to bookmark your site for later.

was the work of an incompetent marketing consultant, only to turn around and do it, or allow it to be done in his name, at other legal blogs.

After receiving what appeared to be a sincere apology for the initial comment spam, I graciously removed the blogpost calling Bradley Johnson out as a spammer from public view, only to see the same spam popping up at Crime and Federalism. When I informed Johnson's office that the promise not to spam again had been violated, and that the post was going back up, one of the arguments I got in return was essentially, "Well, we didn't do it at Popehat, so why do you care?"

(I care because I read Crime and Federalism, and I read its comments, you oily-haired, sharktoothed spammer.)

But that's amateurism. The Bradley Johnsons of the world kill their own parents, and beg mercy as orphans.

Enter, which has a new wrinkle on the world's lamest excuse: "Yeah, sure, I killed my parents. Have mercy on me because I'm an orphan. But if you don't, I'm going to kill your parents too!"

Dear Marshall, Joshua:

It has come to our attention that a number of links exist on your domain which send traffic to our website As a result of warnings in Google Webmaster Tools we have determined that these links may be harmful either to the future marketing and reputation of or our search results.

Accordingly, we request that you (A) remove all existing links to from your domain, including, but not limited to the following URLs:

(B) Cease creation of any additional links to

(C) provide us with prompt notification once links to have been removed either by return email, or using the link below. …

Poor Josh Marshall! Because Google is finally penalizing spammers like, he has to spend his week digging through all the comments at his ten year old, wildly popular site, removing links left by, and to provide proof that he's done so.

Or he would if he didn't have a ten year old, wildly popular site on which to mock them for their hubris.

It almost tempts one, almost, to begin leaving comments at random blogs, in the name of "Real Insurance", with the website address, along the lines of:

What a magnificent blogpost this is on your fine internet site. I'll be sure to bookmark this site for later!

But don't do that. The ecosystem is polluted enough as it is.

Via Mark Bennett.


Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. says

    I could swear I saw this same thing happen a few years ago.

    Are we sure it's not a scam itself – a double-bluff marketing tool?

  2. Dan Irving says

    What's funny (not ha ha funny really – more of a man-that's-really sketchy-behavior funny) is that the thread had silent for almost a year before their little monkey got their spam all over it. Also, the commenter that posted the spam actually has a FB page (I refuse to call it 'a facebook' – the 'book' is the entire thing damn it!). I wonder if this is an example of one of those 'work from home and earn $$ at your computer' type jobs. Sort of the modern day 'tele-marketer'.

  3. says

    If it is a double-bluff marketing tool Ken, you'll notice I didn't provide a hyperlink. If this is the sort of publicity they want…

  4. Mike K says

    Too bad they didn't read Ken's post on how to write these kinds of requests. A simple, "Would you mind removing these spam posts?" might have actually worked.

  5. says

    I'm not saying it's a wise approach, Patrick. I'm just saying I could swear I remember someone making this exact same approach a couple of years ago. Has anyone Googled key terms or sentences?

  6. says

    There really ought to be a number of sites that people run where posting any link is a strong douchetard indicator for automagically poisoning search results.

    Better yet, if there were a "meta" tag that any links in the frame are not intentional by the author/owner of the page.

    A different meta tag would make the page link-neutral.

    This way, when the spammers spam the page it would be an automatic downvote. Or people could go to bitch pages and bitch about sites without inflating their ranks.

  7. Nick says

    I keep the comments on my blog open; pretty sure I've had these guys post there, as well. I'll have to dig through later–right now I'm too busy deleting comments from a white supremacist group (no, I'm not kidding).

  8. says

    I would respond "Please provide me with a URL list of any potential links and I would be happy to remove the comments" They heck if I am going to search through my blog for them.

    Oh and the linked article. Love this analogy

    "I don't leave my business cards in other lawyers' lobbies. Why should lawyers think they can leave their business cards on my website?"

  9. says

    For WordPress users, Akismet spam filter works a treat. It misses very few spams, and traps very few legitimate comments. I'd be lost without it.

    I love pawing through the Spam bucket and watching the latest trends in robocomments. Currently, they seem to be pinching comments from real sites, because they call people out by name and answer specific questions.

  10. Margaret says

    Let me see if I get this straight: realinsurance is the one who propagated hundreds of spam links on these site comments in the first place? And because having done so in the past is now lowering their reputation, they respond by writing threatening letters to the bloggers they spammed?

    Yeah, that's "Chutzspam" all right. Or as Michele Bachmann might say, "Choots-spam".

  11. darius404 says

    I was sentenced to six months in prison for inappropriate use of a webcam in a women's locker room. When I received my sentence, the judge said,

    "You can quote me on this, son. You need pychiatric help."

    My attorney, who claimed that I was unnaturally compelled to install webcams in the women's locker room by mental disorders resulting from exposure to a marketing consultant's spam, says that this was not a structured sentence, so I have no grounds for appeal.

    What can I do?

  12. Mike K says

    @darius The sentence is broken up weirdly by a quote. The attorney is/was claiming that the spam is by a marketing consulatant.

  13. says


    You sat and puzzled over that, thinking and parsing, thinking and parsing, unable to come up with what the sentence meant. Then you wasted your valuable time and mine to comment on sentence structure. But you didn't provide a diagram.

    How am I to improve without a diagram?

  14. darius404 says

    I'll get right on that diagram. Just give me a few years, I'm a slow thinker.

  15. KevinS says

    That's tame actually, I received something much nastier threatening to sue me if I didn't remove the (one and only) spam comment linking to a site off a blog I host (apparently they've never heard of Section 230 protections) within 48 hours. Only a vaguely defined "this might be impacting our client's search engine rank and costing them money" to support why they would sue me, along with some bizarre hand-waving trying to conflate linking to a site as a trademark violation. 48 hours passed and they didn't actually sue, of course.

    My hosting company tells me they started getting a TON of these nastigrams after Google's Penguin update, and they're just passing them along to their customers as a courtesy but otherwise that's it. Their legal analysis shows it's bullshit too, so they won't kick any customers off or even threaten them.

    I'd say there's a story there, one that'll embarrass a LOT of companies that previously employed scummy means to try to boost their pagerank.

    Personally, I'd almost be willing to say we ought to leave the spam up now that it's backfiring on them! Nothing like watching a spammer unload both barrels into their own foot!

  16. Narad says

    For WordPress users, Akismet spam filter works a treat.

    The recent switchover of ScienceBlogs to WP strongly suggests otherwise. It's also just a dumb whack-a-mole model.

  17. Narad says

    (Addendum: You want to take care of much of this? Shitcan comments without referrers.)

  18. says

    Narad: I think the point that Ken (and Patrick, in the linked post) is trying to make is that they shouldn't have to do anything more elaborate than lightly reviewing comments for disgusting and asinine behavior when trying to fight trolls and spammers. Besides, your suggestion would penalize real readers like me who type in "" rather than have the site bookmarked or read through an RSS feed. That's not cool, is it?

  19. says

    It's weird, this story is reminding me of some quote that starts "If you outsource your marketing…." Nah, I can't remember where I heard it, never mind.

  20. says

    Wait, what? They spammed the blog, and are now demanding that the blog author clean it up because they don't like the traffic?

    Isn't that the equivalent of me shitting on someone's carpet and demanding they clean it up because the smell is bothering me?

    Please tell me I'm misunderstanding grossly?

  21. Margaret says

    @S. Weasel:

    THANK YOU! Oh man, is that ever sweet. The coins on the floor in the FU picture are just the ne plus ultra.

  22. EH says

    I might be more sympathetic if I hadn't had to stop reading TPM due to their shitty-ass ad policies.

  23. Narad says

    We don't care where our commenters come from Narad. We only care about what they have to say.

    Do you care if they're injecting "comments" directly without reading the post?

  24. V says

    @Trisha Lynn
    Would the act of posting a comment not have the article they are commenting on as a referrer? Unless it was posted by an automated process that failed to include that field?

  25. says

    Narad. I can tell when someone is injecting "comments" directly without reading the post.

    Witness S. Weasel, who I just banned for posting Oatmeal shit in the comments to this post.

  26. V says

    I just checked; the POST command did include a Referer to this article.

    People using bookmarks and typing addresses would be able to visit and read popehat as normal and would also be able to comment, unless their browser failed to transmit a valid Referer for the POST command for their comment.

  27. David Leech says



    I'm banning you, just because.

    Fuck you you censorious twat. You wouldn't be out of place in communism or fascism Europe in the last century. Oh and did I say fuck you.

  28. says

    Patrick, does not David at least get points for correctly spelling "censorious" ? No point for "twat" since I figured that that word was prominently tattooed somewhere within his field of vision.

  29. says

    I've mellowed since those days SPQR. In fact I've already lifted the bans on V and S. Weasel.

    But on David Leech? Nosiree. He's thrown the terms "censorious" and "Soviet" (look up his commenting history) around here for the last time.

    Way back in the Stone Ages, I did a lot of graduate work on Stalinism. If I were a genuine Stalinist, I would not only have banned David Leech. I would have had him arrested, put on trial with a pre-determined outcome, and then shot and buried in a pit. Then I would have his family arrested and sent to excavate a canal near the arctic circle, using their bare hands as digging tools, for ten years.

  30. says

    Call me a sycophant if you must, but I equate calling someone a Stalinist to a Godwin's Law violation that's dabbled in steroids.

  31. Narad says

    Narad. I can tell when someone is injecting "comments" directly without reading the post.

    That's all the point was. I don't think I've ever even seen comment spam here; the original comment was a follow-on to the general adequacy of Akismet. (Although I would advance that there's no reason to be seeing such injections in the first place.)

  32. Joe says

    Ah spam how I love thee let me count the ways.

    I stepped away for a few days and came back to an inbox overflowing with emails. Only two were actual spam. Most of the spam that gets through our corporate filter are marketing companies trying to sell us lists of executives and their contact data. Unfortunately for them – our lists are more up to date but more importantly we sell to the business, not IT. Something they would know if they had actually researched what we do.

    Anyway, feeling a bit frisky, I decided to zip an email back to “Linda” regarding the information she stated her company could provide on said executives. I thought, well if I’m going to do this let’s get some really good dirt. So I send an email back to Linda stating that I would be very interested in a marketing list not only of executive names but specifically their bank account balance, any affairs they’ve had, delinquencies/bankruptcies, trouble with the law, family secrets, etc. I mean why waste all my time actually selling some business executive on the value of our solution if I can just blackmail them instead? My win rate would go up, the time needed to close a deal would go down, I’d be on the golf course every day. Easy peasy right?

    She never did respond. I’m really quite put out.

  33. says

    David Leech attempts to comment, from his phone:

    Ha censorship the last refuged of the coward, good day to you sir.

    To which I reply that he really needs to warn his family before indulging in this sort of behavior, so that they can pack a suitcase before the inevitable knock at the door.

  34. says

    Patrick, you got a good trenchcoat? All the fashionable Chekists have trenchcoats, I'm assured. ;-)

  35. says

    For everyone's interest (since being in Australia this has piqued mine) Rohan Salins the author of this misleading and wrongful (even under Australian statutes) post is not a practicing solicitor (nr even holds a law degree, and instead is just the Online Marketing Manager of Real Insurance [found via linkedIn]

    It also seems Rohan is a member of ADMA (Australian Direct Marketing Association) who has a zero tolerance for spammers. Especially when SPAM is classified as an offense under Australian Legislation (though granted Internet comment spam is currently not covered). Looks like I might have a nice little word with ADMA and ACMA (the enforcer for the Spam Act 2003)

    Maybe he also knows Ms Lily Adams whom it seems has numerous comments spammingpromoting the Hollard Insurance group of companies that RealInsurance is a part of. Hmmmm

  36. David Leech says

    Yep, free speech is a joke, after all we're not communist or fascist right. What could possible go wrong with good old fashioned censorship. Human rights pah, I ow hope the GOP get in as you get the government you deserve.

    Stop me before I kill again. The bodies in my basement. So many innocent children! The blood – my God, the blood! Why won't it wash out? Iä! Shub Niggurath! THE BLACK GOAT OF THE WOODS WITH A THOUSAND YOUNG!

  37. Merus says

    Real Insurance are also a semi-reputable insurance broker. I imagine they wouldn't appreciate this approach being brought up in the papers. Let's see if we can get the papers to bite.

  38. says

    So, if I understand this correctly, and written in layman's terms, they are essentially saying:

    "hey. How's it goin'? So, remember us? yeah, we're the company that has been spamming the comments of your blog for the last ten years with insurance sales pitches and crap. So, what has happened is that our reputation has suffered horribly from our totally shitty way of advertising our business – I know, who'dathunkit, right? So, over the last ten years, when we've been driving you crazy with our spam, we managed to create a pretty massive backlog of comment spam on your site, so that now when we Google ourselves, all that comes up is comment spam and that makes us look bad. So, uh, we're going to have to ask you to remove that. No, actually, we're going to DEMAND that you remove it. In essence, we let our dog shit in your yard for ten years, and now the smell is getting pretty bad and we're going to have our lawyer sue your ass for the stink if you don't go clean up after us."

    That's a lot of bloody cheek, there, wouldn't you say, chaps?

  39. says

    For WordPress users, Akismet spam filter works a treat

    Oh, Wease, you're getting so…

    British!. In fact, it rubbed off on me in my last post. Stop that!

  40. Rich Rostrom says

    To which I reply that he really needs to warn his family before indulging in this sort of behavior, so that they can pack a suitcase before the inevitable knock at the door.

    During the Great Purge, and IIRC all the way up to Stalin's death, composer Dmitri Shostakovich (a world-famous musician, and totally apolitical) kept a packed suitcase at hand in case of… the knock at the door.

    That was real Stalinism.

    Whiny fools like Leech have no idea what they're talking about – you clearly do.

  41. joe says

    Ah even more fun. Now I have to say this is the first time I’ve gotten one of these in m inbox. Check it out – it is a bit unusual from a staffing firm.

    For fun, I sent the following email in reply:

    I am responding to your email as I am searching for a full-service undead staffing and training services provider. I find that real living employees are far too demanding – salary, vacation time, coffee breaks, and on and on. I really need someone who can dig up all of my walking dead and living corpse hiring needs. I’d like to know if you specialize in temporary, contract, temp-to-hire and career candidates that will do the boring dead end jobs that none of my other employees want to do anyway. I just need to make sure you screen your corpses properly as the cleaning staff will have a fit if they have to clean up body parts that have fallen off any of the staff.

    Best regards,