The Barnum Perversion

Standard

…or, “What Fresh Hell is This? On my Discovery of Whois Spam.”

A year or so ago I first encountered user agent spam, and was nonplussed: did someone really think that an admin (i.e. someone who might actually be running through server logs) would react positively to spamvertising “an interest free line of credit of upto [sic] 100,000,000.00” in server logs? Even for spammers the logic behind this approach to “advertising” seemed highly suspect.

And now we have another development in the world of bizarrely spamtastic advertising: whois spam. For reasons too boring to explain, I ran a whois on google.com last night, and the listing seemed curiously long to me, so I piped it through less to take a closer look. And here’s what I saw:

Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net
for detailed information.

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.ZZZZZ.GET.LAID.AT.WWW.SWINGINGCOMMUNITY.COM
   IP Address: 69.41.185.195
   Registrar: INNERWISE, INC. D/B/A ITSYOURDOMAIN.COM
   Whois Server: whois.itsyourdomain.com
   Referral URL: http://www.itsyourdomain.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.ZOMBIED.AND.HACKED.BY.WWW.WEB-HACK.COM
   IP Address: 217.107.217.167
   Registrar: ONLINENIC, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.OnlineNIC.com
   Referral URL: http://www.OnlineNIC.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.WORDT.DOOR.VEEL.WHTERS.GEBRUIKT.SERVERTJE.NET
   IP Address: 62.41.27.144
   Registrar: KEY-SYSTEMS GMBH
   Whois Server: whois.rrpproxy.net
   Referral URL: http://www.key-systems.net

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.VN
   Registrar: ONLINENIC, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.OnlineNIC.com
   Referral URL: http://www.OnlineNIC.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.UA
   Registrar: DIRECT INFORMATION PVT LTD D/B/A PUBLICDOMAINREGISTRY.COM
   Whois Server: whois.PublicDomainRegistry.com
   Referral URL: http://www.PublicDomainRegistry.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.SUCKS.FIND.CRACKZ.WITH.SEARCH.GULLI.COM
   IP Address: 80.190.192.24
   Registrar: KEY-SYSTEMS GMBH
   Whois Server: whois.rrpproxy.net
   Referral URL: http://www.key-systems.net

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.SPROSIUYANDEKSA.RU
   Registrar: MELBOURNE IT, LTD. D/B/A INTERNET NAMES WORLDWIDE
   Whois Server: whois.melbourneit.com
   Referral URL: http://www.melbourneit.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.SA
   Registrar: OMNIS NETWORK, LLC
   Whois Server: whois.omnis.com
   Referral URL: http://domains.omnis.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.PLZ.GIVE.A.PR8.TO.AUDIOTRACKER.NET
   IP Address: 213.251.184.30
   Registrar: OVH
   Whois Server: whois.ovh.com
   Referral URL: http://www.ovh.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.MX
   Registrar: DIRECT INFORMATION PVT LTD D/B/A PUBLICDOMAINREGISTRY.COM
   Whois Server: whois.PublicDomainRegistry.com
   Referral URL: http://www.PublicDomainRegistry.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.IS.NOT.HOSTED.BY.ACTIVEDOMAINDNS.NET
   IP Address: 217.148.161.5
   Registrar: ENOM, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.enom.com
   Referral URL: http://www.enom.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.IS.APPROVED.BY.NUMEA.COM
   IP Address: 213.228.0.43
   Registrar: GANDI
   Whois Server: whois.gandi.net
   Referral URL: http://www.gandi.net

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.HAS.LESS.FREE.PORN.IN.ITS.SEARCH.ENGINE.THAN.SECZY.COM
   IP Address: 209.187.114.130
   Registrar: INNERWISE, INC. D/B/A ITSYOURDOMAIN.COM
   Whois Server: whois.itsyourdomain.com
   Referral URL: http://www.itsyourdomain.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.DO
   Registrar: GO DADDY SOFTWARE, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.godaddy.com
   Referral URL: http://registrar.godaddy.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.BR
   Registrar: ENOM, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.enom.com
   Referral URL: http://www.enom.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.AU
   Registrar: PRIMUS TELCO PTY LTD DBA PRIMUSDOMAIN/PLANETDOMAIN
   Whois Server: whois.planetdomain.com
   Referral URL: http://www.planetdomain.com

   Domain Name: GOOGLE.COM
   Registrar: MARKMONITOR, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.markmonitor.com
   Referral URL: http://www.markmonitor.com
   Name Server: NS1.GOOGLE.COM
   Name Server: NS2.GOOGLE.COM
   Name Server: NS3.GOOGLE.COM
   Name Server: NS4.GOOGLE.COM
   Status: clientDeleteProhibited
   Status: clientTransferProhibited
   Status: clientUpdateProhibited
   Updated Date: 10-apr-2006
   Creation Date: 15-sep-1997
   Expiration Date: 14-sep-2011

  [...]

Holy crap. Checking yahoo.com, aol.com, hotmail.com, myspace.com, flickr.com, and pretty much any other big domain that came to mind I found the same thing. What the fuck is the objective here?

It’s definitely time for a new coinage — this sort of crap is the reference implementation of the Barnum perversion:

The Barnum Perversion
An attempt at marketing or advertising that takes the maxim “I don’t care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right” (attributed to P.T Barnum, among others) to its absurd and illogical extreme; the belief that getting the name of one’s company or product “out there” is an end that justifies any and all means, commonly paired with an inability to understand why others (such as potential customers) might take a different view of these actions.