39

Here I found a new terminology first time:

Looks like a spam seed is a post, which "is designed to allow spammers to post questions so it looks legitimate".

What does this mean? Maybe it is some type of a spamfilter poisoning?

migrated from security.stackexchange.com May 19 '15 at 6:02

This question came from our site for information security professionals.

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    Off topic, but: I don't think that question is actual spam, it's just poorly written and about something illegal. It was probably written by a child and/or foreign-speaker. The intended question is "I know how to jailbreak my iPod Touch using an Internet-connected PC, but my PC's Internet is down. Is it possible to jailbreak the iPod using its own web browser?" – BlueRaja Mar 25 '15 at 16:31
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft Although that may be a valid objection if the question were on AskDifferent (Apple.SE), no reasonable person with half a clue of what they're doing would ask that question on Unix.SE. It is more likely that it is spam than a poor question. – apnorton Mar 25 '15 at 18:45
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    And it is worth noting this wasn't the only post on the network. It got posted all over. – Bart Mar 25 '15 at 19:00
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft: Since when is asserting control over your own property illegal? In an ideal world, selling a device that needs to be jailbroken in the first place would be illegal. In the real world in which we live, however, no laws that I'm aware of are being broken by doing what the asker here is attempting to do. – Mason Wheeler Mar 25 '15 at 19:26
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    @MasonWheeler: I wasn't aware there was a difference between "jailbreaking" (which is legal) and "unlocking" (which is illegal in the US, according to the Internet). Thanks for the lesson :) – BlueRaja Mar 25 '15 at 19:36
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft: Yeah. Jailbreaking is the same thing as "rooting" your device. Unlocking means haxxoring out the part that keeps your device tied to one carrier's network. This is a more complicated concept, since it (potentially) gets into sticky areas of contract law and you're not just dealing with your own device anymore, but a network owned by a third party. – Mason Wheeler Mar 25 '15 at 19:39
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    @MasonWheeler the contract law is a legitimate issue, but the network you're getting on is, by definition, not a party to that contract (and network operators have ways to reject devices they don't want that aren't affected by unlocking). Unlocking your Sprint phone has nothing to do with Sprint's network, since the point is to not connect to it. – Random832 Mar 26 '15 at 0:35
  • @RoryAlsop Ok - thank you. – user259412 May 19 '15 at 9:15
34

The description is pretty much spot on. In that context a "spam seed" is a post disguised as an actual question, but which only serves the purpose of being able to post a spammy answer after some time. And that answer may just pass as an actual answer for a longer amount of time than desired. It passes spam defences in as much that the question itself isn't really spam.

The quality of such seeds however is usually so terrible that it's not much of a disguise. In that sense I wonder if any poisoning is really taking place. False positives on actual crap perhaps aren't really that big of a deal.

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    "The quality ... so terrible" may be a temporary state. Imagine a world where "too good, too ideal" posts are actually bot-generated. – Vi. Mar 25 '15 at 21:26
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    @Vi.: That would be awesome! And is the punch line of xkcd.com/810 – Eric Lippert Mar 25 '15 at 23:09
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    My response in such a case (where spam becomes on-topic content) is usually "what an enviable problem to have!" If spammers post questions that matter to real people, that's OK! Other than closing as dups if they repeat themselves, and deleting spam replies, no action need be taken on the seeds themselves. Most products are designed to fill a need; all needs have legitimate questions to describe them. Legitimate questions are good content. – Dewi Morgan Mar 25 '15 at 23:14
42

There have been spam campaigns by other web forums who target sites that allow user contributions (including Stack Exchange). For official proof, see this comment.

Yup, it's part of a coordinated campaign to spam file recovery tools to Stack Overflow, Super User, Server Fault, and other sites on the network: meta.stackoverflow.com/a/269868/19679 . They've been getting progressively more creative with their spam, now seeding questions with one account and answering with another. The real problem is that reviewers are usually approving their spam now, so I have to sweep through every few days and remove the spam that made it through.

(Emphasis mine.)

Spam seeds are a somewhat slang term (just now added to the glossary by me), but it describes (usually softball) questions with the only purpose to attract spam or to allow spam to be posted as an answer.

  • Like the quesion/answer pair I discussed in this woodworking.meta answer? – ratchet freak Mar 25 '15 at 9:44
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    @ratchetfreak Almost, but the only difference is that Spam Seeds are most distinctly recognizable as softball questions and spells as remote spam, such as "what is the best way to do X" with a crappy question body. Spam Seeds are what precedes Spam and spambot baits are what attracts spambots that randomly posts links to increase website ranking through poor SEO attempts. – Unihedron Mar 25 '15 at 9:47
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    So in other words, they're wanting to advertise what they claim to be a file recovery tool of theirs; and in order to gain sort of a billboard to do so, they're posting a question with a supposedly related problem space, with the intent being for it to be answered with something that mentions the tool and suggests using it. – Panzercrisis Mar 25 '15 at 18:30

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