Tag Archives: spam

Procrastination Destination Du Jour: Horse_eComics

A post about a Tumblr about comics about a Twitter feed described as “cryptic missives that read like Zen koans which have been dropped on a computer keyboard from a great height.”

It’s the last week of the semester, Reading Week Two Days are upon us, and you know what that means: a fucking crateload of puppies are being shipped to Zelnick tomorrow it’s time for Wesleying’s biannual Procrastination Destination extravaganza. In brief,  here’s the idea: from here on out, we’ll be posting a procrastinatory, addictive, and generally toxic link each day for the entirety of finals period. You’ll find yourself clicking these links and spamming your friends’ Facebook walls instead of starting the research paper that’s due tomorrow. You’re welcome. For previous Procrastination Destination content (which we won’t repeat), click here. To suggest a procrastinatory link, email us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org.

Kicking off the series, today’s link is  a Tumblr featuring comics about a Twitter feed described as “cryptic missives that read like Zen koans which have been dropped on a computer keyboard from a great height.” If you’re unfamiliar with bizarrely viral spam Twitter account @Horse_ebooks at this point in the game, just give up skim the Wiki entry, followed by the five most recent tweets:

2013 Facebook Groups: Something Fishy?

There’s been talk on various forums about fishiness going on in the class of 2013 Facebook groups across the board – at Wesleyan, and tons of other colleges. It appears that a couple of people on Facebook, such as Justin Gaither, have started Class of ’13 Facebook groups at tons of colleges, including Wesleyan. They appear to have absolutely no affiliation with the colleges they’re creating Facebook groups for.

I first came across this suspicion toward Justin Gaither on the Wesleyan CollegeConfidential forums, where fangsup15 wrote:

Yeah what the heck, Justin Gaither is in every single Facebook Class of 2013 groups… There are also a number of people who appear in numerous Class of groups (Cathy Li, Tommy Choi, the girl with the luggage, the person that’s water skiing or w/e).

I was thinking maybe they’ve just overapplied or w/e, but half of them are college grads!

Then Wesleying got an e-mail from Marilyn Stelzner. She appears to be affiliated with Summit Prep Charter High School (how she found Wesleying, I don’t know), and she linked us to a page on squaredpeg.com called Facebook: Pay Attention:

See how many times those names appear in admin for these groups, and look at their friends and see how many times those names pop up. A LOT. This isn’t just the Common App Effect, where students apply to every school under the sun. These people aren’t interested in going to every school they have started a group for. No, this is an inside ring with a common purpose. They don’t always create the group, but they do always get in, friend someone, and get control rights.

You might have the same thought I had at first. I responded to Megan, “That is very interesting. I don’t really see where squatting could be beneficial. After all, the students who join and participate will steer the group in whatever direction they take it. I’ve never heard of anything like that.”

Sure, not for one school. Not for tiny little Butler, with 900 incoming students.

But for 500+ schools? Owning the admin rights to groups equaling easily 1,000,000+ freshman college students? That’s huge.

Think of it: Sitting back for 8-10 months, (even a few years), maybe friending everyone and posing as an incoming student. Think of the data collection. The opportunities down the road to push affiliate links. The opportunity to appear to be an ‘Admin’ of Your School Class of 2013. The chance to message alumni down the road. The list of possibilities goes on and on and on.

I’ve said many times, step back and let the student group start on its own. Today, I change that position. It seems that we have been gamed, and we need to at least own the admin rights to the group in an effort to protect our incoming students. To end the possibility of them being pushed ads and “buy these sheets for college” stuff this summer. You know there is a motive behind all of this. And you know it has to do with money. And you KNOW you’re going to get calls about it when it happens.

Be sure to read the full squaredpeg.com article for more back story and updates – it’s interesting and completely baffling. Maybe Wesleyan admissions did a pretty decent job creating its own Class of ’13 facebook group after all.

Update 12/20 8pm: New info has come up that apparently some College Prowler interns were behind this process in an attempt to be progressive in new media/viral marketing/social networking. They’ve issued an apology, noting that they crossed the line. Read up more about it here. Thanks to fangsup15 from CollegeConfidential again for the tip! And let this be a lesson: even when it’s less obvious, people who shouldn’t technically be in your network have access to your information and will probably take advantage of it. Yay!

Urgent: they need your wellesley.edu password!

Katrina Smith-Mannschott ’08 sends in this bit of spam she received. She writes, “Apparently, even spammers have trouble telling Wesleyan and Wellesley apart.” Nice going, wannabe password thieves!
From: “WELLESLEY.EDU SUPPORT TEAM”
Date: July 15, 2008 17:31:06 GMT+02:00
To: (her username)@wesleyan.edu
Subject: UPDATE YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNT
Reply-To: verification_team03@yahoo.com.hk

Dear wellesley.edu Subscriber,

We are currently carrying-out a mentainance process to your wellesley.edu account, to complete this process you must reply to this email immediately, and enter your User Name here (**********) And Password here (**********) if you are the rightful owner of this account.

This process we help us to fight against spam mails. Failure to summit your password, will render your email address in-active from our database.

NOTE: You will be send a password reset messenge in next seven (7) working days after undergoing this process for security reasons.

Thank you for using wellesley.edu!
THE WELLESLEY.EDU TEAM

I feel absolutely no guilt about leaving the spammers’ e-mail addresses up there to get spammed themselves.

Brown responds

Ivygate picked up our post about the repetitive “survey plz” e-mails some students (including, sadly, me) have been getting. Well, guess who read it?

Dean Shaw says:

I’m flattered to be referenced in IvyGate, but I was hoping that my first mention would be for something more substantial than an alleged spamming of students at other universities. The survey in question is a joint project of 8 colleges, including Brown and Wesleyan. The project, funded by the Teagle Foundation, is an examination of the values and practices of the “Open Curriculum”, in which students have significant freedom to design their own academic programs. In interviews with alumni of our institutions last year, the importance of good advising was a central theme, so this year the focus of the project is on improving advising at our schools. Emails to invite students to participate in a survey of advising are sent out by each school to students at that school. My name is included in all the emails to conform to requirements of the Institutional Review Board (human subjects protection board) that participants have a contact to whom they can address questions about the project. It may have seemed to students at Wesleyan that the emails were sent by me, but they were sent by Wesleyan personnel from Wesleyan. Three Wesleyan students did write to me about the project and I replied to each of them. Students from the various schools who participated in the survey have made extensive comments about their experiences with advising and suggestions for change. These will be discussed at length at each school next semester. We have also set up a message board on which students at these 8 schools may post their observations about their experiences with advising. I invite any interested students to visit this message board whether or not they participated in the survey:
http://messageboard.chatuniversity.com/brownacademicadvising/

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone sends him a 4MB “I’m sorry, Dean Shaw” bitmap.