Another dot in the blogosphere?

Crap detection: Comments

Posted on: October 12, 2014

One of the things we discussed briefly at #edsg this week was an aspect of information literacy — crap detection.

There are many different forms of online crap: Misinformation, email scams, URL bait, troll artefacts, and sadly, so much more.

It does not help that supposedly reputable sources like STonline take liberties with research conducted by others and put their own spin on it.

It helps to have a critical mindset when consuming online resources, but the bowels that produce this crap are disguising the nature of what they drop at our feet.

Example 1
I recently discovered something that looked authentic. It was a well-written blog comment.


Most spam blog comments are poorly written or even incoherent. What set off a small alarm was that the comment was to a blog entry I wrote over six years ago!

I decided to WHOIS this person and check out the supplied URL. The first led to a dead end and the second led to commercial site that had nothing to do with the subject matter.

Example 2
While I was drafting this blog entry, I received an email that was sent through my Contact form. I am not yet sure if this was spam or not.

Like the blog comment, it was well written. It was an invitation to me to operate as a freelance writer on educational technology.

I investigated the email address and tried Googling for the company. I also checked the IP address the person used.

I could not find anything online about the company and the IP address (if not spoofed by VPN) was from StarHub, Singapore. If I wanted to, I could use the WHOIS information and ask the ISP to pursue the matter.

When I replied by email, I received this error message: Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently. The person who filled in the form could have made a genuine mistake. Or this could be the work of a troll.

I tweeted and blogged to reach out to this person just in case. I have not received a reply so far.

Spammers and trolls evolve. So must crap detection methods.

Such methods begin and end with human processes, not technological ones. Processes like thinking critically, pattern recognition, systematic investigation, and making judgement calls.

Adults struggle with these processes and kids will be no different. But adults can draw from greater experiences or might be more likely to transfer skills from one context to another.

Kids do not have the benefit of experience especially if they are irrationally restricted from using social media tools. They may not have the thinking or transfer skills because adults do not prioritize or teach them.

If you agree with the crappy way we deal with the issue of kids with social media, what are you going to do about it?

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