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Most people are familiar with spam emails that have something to sell and have links to click on. But about 50% of my spam originating from my contact form on my site is just Latin with a link, or are emails without a link at all.

I would love to know why these emails are sent out. It makes me nervous to see that someone is going through some effort to do this, but I can't figure out their motivation.

My guess for emails that just have nonsense words around the link is to help improve email delivery rates as opposed to just an URL in the email body. But emails that are pure Latin or gibberish with no links at all are particularly mysterious.

This may sound like a trivial question, but I think knowing the answer may be important to the general maintenance of a site. Perhaps it's an attempt of a hack? Perhaps there's a tracking pixel for open rate that my email client is relaying back showing that my email is valid? Even if that's the case, I'm still perplexed as to why the spammer wouldn't have sent a 'valuable' spam email to begin with as opposed to trying to validate my email with no other purpose.

Note: This question is not about asking how to reduce spam and instead focused on why this particular type of spam is happening to begin with.

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    This type of spam is happening to begin with because you're not putting measures in place to reduce it. Aug 26 at 19:39
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    I to have seen analogous crap recurring for a ling time on an old site with using an easily broken captcha. (I recently just retired the site, so no more spam) I to am scratching my head over the apparent pointlessness. Im fairly certain there was no hidden tracking going on. I speculate wildly it was some bot which was not doing what it thought - Ie the "meaningful payload" was simply not making it through the form but this may have been so cheap to push the spambot never cared it did not actually work.
    – davidgo
    Aug 27 at 8:28
  • @StephenOstermiller what are the measures should they be putting in place? Aug 27 at 22:44
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    @MikeCiffone - To reduce/eliminate this spam you would typically add a strong CAPTCHA - ie make it "more expensive" for the sender (in terms of effort/time) to send you the message then the spam warrants. You may also be able to get some benefit from something like akismet.
    – davidgo
    Aug 27 at 23:10
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I can't claim to know all the motivations of spam bots, but the main motivation is creating links to help SEO. Most of the bots submitting this form don't even realize that it is a contact form. These bots submit every form they find trying to get their comments onto pages.

The bots submit text that can get indexed in search engines. Then the spammer can search for successful form submission and target those with more link spam. They use nonsense words because it makes it easy to search for them later.

As far as I know, it doesn't have anything to do with deliverability, or even email, at all.

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  • I think this answer perfectly explains why we see spam when there's links - the bot doesn't doesn't distinguish from posting an URL as a comment vs posting an URL that ends up as an email. Either way, the spammer wins: 1) The URL hits at least one person, the email recipient, or 2) The URL hits potentially many people, as a posted comment. But I'm not sure this behavior is explained when there's no URL at all, since why not just throw an URL out there anyway (which is also easy to search for, like gibberish words). I found theories that it's an attempt to hack a site - any thoughts on this? Sep 6 at 18:15
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    My guess is that URLs get filtered or mangled more often than gibberish keywords. Using a URL in form submission spam is also likely to get it blocked. No sense in using the URL and risk getting blocked before you are sure that the form submission is going to achieve the results you want. Sep 7 at 9:50

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