Web & spam

101% guarantee?

This is a screenshot of a spam message posted in a forum I frequent.

It is not a sophisticated spamming technique, as the message just repeated the phone number (which I have redacted) and keywords seemingly ad infinitum, and the post was removed pretty quickly. The plan behind this kind of spamming is well-known: the spammer starts threads in popular forums where posts would be indexed quickly by the search engines. When the spam posts are indexed, they would be shown pretty high up in the search results, because the forums are considered authoritative sources and the content is fresh. If the spammer’s plan goes well, when someone searches for the target keywords and phrases, in this instance for an astrologer versed in black magic, the spammer’s posts would be displayed together with the phone number as search results. The spammer does not need the visitor to click through from the search results to the spam posts in the forums, or go to another website, since it is a phone call that he or she wants. However this post was removed quite quickly, so I doubt the post would have been indexed and shown in the search results.

In addition to incompetence as a spammer, what made chuckle was the bit underlined in red: this astrologer, the world’s number one in powerfulness no less, is offering to provide solutions to anyone’s life within 12 hours with a full – not partial, but full – 101% guarantee. In an age of commitment and guarantee inflation, where no one seems to offer merely 100%, but 110%, 120%, or even 200%, 101% is an odd figure to choose. It is quite modest.


The seemingly odd number has to do with numerology, I have learnt, as numbers ending in 1 are considered auspicious in Indian culture. Gifts in cash for weddings, for example, would end in a 1. It explains the mystery of the 101% guarantee. It is not just more than a 100% guarantee but an auspicious guarantee. Thanks to KT for pointing out this to me! The joke as it were is on me for my ignorance. Talking of which, I have posted this on an inauspicious day, Friday, 13 May. Hmm ...

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I have heard, and this could be an apocryphal story, that one job interviewer always challenges the interviewee when he or she makes this kind of assertion. The interviewer asks whether the applicant cannot do the maths or lying. It is not possible to give more than 100%. The interviewer doesn’t even want someone giving 100% to the job: the interviewer wants someone with a life, who can strike the balance between work and leisure, profession and family, not someone who is always working and proclaiming that fact loudly. The interviewer does not want someone who exaggerates and cannot report things accurately either. If the interviewee doesn’t know that he or she cannot give more than 100%, then that’s a big problem, but if he or she knew, but still states that he or she would give more than 100%, then is the candidate lying? It is mainly a test to see the mental agility of the interviewee to respond to something unexpected: how does he or she react when confronted by this logic? Naturally, most candidates would then explain that this is a figure of speech, and not meant to be taken literally, however a fair number would fall apart at this stage.

For those who really want some black magic performed on someone else, would an offer of a 101% guarantee sway their decision? May be? This astrologer / black magician – surely these are two different callings? – is making an extraordinary claim to sort out problems in 12 hours. If that were true, we’d all be living a happy life. There are sufficient people on this planet who are credulous and desperate enough and who would be tempted by such an offer. Without the internet, perhaps the people offering black magic and those who feel they need it could not be easily connected, but now, it is only a few clicks away. Evidently and somewhat reassuringly, black magic does not seem to work on Google, so spamming ineptly it has to be for this operator to reach potential clients.