by Speebyenano on 07 Dec 2009, 08:25
Am fairly new to this community and just thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself and say “hello”.
For once a solid forum with colors that I can stare at – which really is a refreshing change!
I am here to learn & get involved. How could I best contribute?
PS: – I am attempting to locate a long lost friend by the name of Rhett Aderholt, Where could I search for him?
Now, spambots are not uncommon on the Forums as our (old version of) PHPBB has a really weak CAPTCHA. But this was spam of a bizarre variety. No keyword or link stuffing. The user’s website was a little dubious (a spammy-looking blog pushing weight loss products), but the message posted just looked like… spam for the sake of spamming. But the part about Rhett Aderholt was totally out of place.
It’s our unofficial policy to do a little “internet detective” work whenever a new user appears on the forums. Mostly this is to quickly determine whether the account is a spambot. Speebyenano’s message appeared, with subtle variations, on a multitude of other message boards.
Users of some of the other boards on which this message appeared did similar research and went into lengthy discussions over the motivation behind this post.
The posts elsewhere had the same general idea: new user introducing himself, kind of a generic post, and then mentions his quest to find Rhett Aderholt. Sometimes the poster describes Rhett as a long-lost friend; other times Rhett is a cousin.
Rhett Aderholt, despite garnering about 36,500 Google results (and ~23,100 results for the exact phrase) at the time this article was written, remains an unknown entity, at least as far as I can tell. (I hardly dug deep.)
It does seem likely that this is a fictional person because of the noted relation inconsistency. But perhaps Rhett Aderholt was a friend of the poster and also a cousin. So I wouldn’t say it’s damning evidence of the poster being a spambot. If anything it would be the utter lack of information presented about this Rhett Aderholt that nudges my suspicion. Certainly if this poster were seeking so desperately for Rhett, there would be some kind of details to share to further the search. But the poster offers none.
Putting aside the truth of Rhett Aderholt’s existence, it remains that for one real person to register and post on so many boards, in a non-automated fashion, is virtually inconceivable. According to a poster in the thread linked earlier in this article, the number of results for “Rhett Aderholt” on or around the date of 18 Nov. 2009 was around 13,000.
Let’s do some math.
It’s now 74 days later. The number of search results is now 23,500 greater, or 10,100 greater if you assume that the search from November was for the exact phrase “Rhett Aderholt”. So there have been an average of 136 to 317 posts per day since then. If a real person is posting these, they have been posting a projected average of 7.5 to 17.6 times per hour, or once every two to ten minutes, assuming that they are awake and sitting at a computer doing nothing but posting for an average of 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In other words, the probability that this is legitimately from an actual person seems prodigiously low, unless someone somewhere is spending their life posting all across the internet in a half-hearted search for Rhett Aderholt.
Which brings us to a much more believable possibility about the nature of Rhett Aderholt, suggested by the same poster who noted the number of search results as previously noted.
Could this person actually be Rhett Aderholt trying to get his name up in lights, so to speak?
Is there some benefit from having your name come up thousands of times in a search engine?
Purely speculation, yes. But perhaps the most likely explanation for this phenomenon.