How spam became internet spam, via forum spam, and email spam. Spam.

Tips & tricks
4 mins
Can of Spam spread.

Disclaimer: ExpressVPN does not endorse spam of any kind. Or Spam.

Once upon a time, Spam was just a tin of meat and in the wise words of Monty Python:

“Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam, Spam, and Spam”

But these are the days of the all-powerful Internet, and spam has become the scourge.

A Brief History of Spam, Spam, and Spam

Thought to be a portmanteau of spiced and ham, the product Spam gained notoriety as a cheap and readily available meat during the weak economic years following World War II. Because of this, the word spam became a synonymous term for cheap fodder.

It was Spam’s reputation as a common, cheap foodstuff that inspired this bit of genius from Monty Python:

For the two people that have never seen it.

The Monty Python sketch transcended all borders to become a cultural phenomenon. And by mimicking the repetition of the word spam in the skit, some abusive users of early ‘80s BBSs and MUDs games would type “spam” repeatedly to scroll other users’ text off the screen.

A Better Internet Meant More Spam and Spam

As the Internet improved so too did methods of spam delivery. In the 1990s, the first chat rooms of Online America (which later became AOL), would occasionally be flooded with quotes from the Monty Python Spam sketch. Presumably, this was done just for the lulz.

Internet connections were still over phone lines in the early ’90s and typically ran at 1200 or even 300 bit/s. Spammy images, drawn in ASCII art, and posted in a forum could take quite a while to load on a viewer’s PC.

Later, on the Usenet forums, spam began to mean excessive multiple posting or the repeated posting of the same message.

These days spam is a blanket term that covers anything that’s unwelcome or unsolicited on or from the Internet.

Embracing the Spam, Embracing the Spam, and Embracing the Spam

Though Hormel, the makers of Spam, were not too pleased about the negative Monty Python association at the time, in 2007 they decided the sketch was part of their corporate identity.

When Monty Python opened the Spamalot show in London’s West End, Hormel released a product called “Stinky French Garlic” as part of the show’s promotion. Then, in 2012, during the 75th anniversary of Spam, Hormel introduced Sir Can-A-Lot, a character who mimicked the Monty Python Knights of The Holy Grail. Sir Can-A-Lot featured on the cover of Spam promotional tins all through 2012.

A lovely dinner of lettuce, tomato, spam, spam, spam, and spam.

Spam Filters Stop the Spam, the Spam, and the Spam

There was a time when a day wouldn’t go by without a Nigerian prince reaching out for help, or a company broadcasting their desire to enlarge penises the whole world over.

As spamming increased, the quality of spam filters increased too. But it’s still there, hiding in the never regions of your Inbox. Go and check your spam folder right now. You can still get those pharma meds delivered straight to your door if you want (please don’t do that).

How Spam Filters Stop the Spam, Spam, and Spam, and Stop the Spam

Since its creation in 2004, Gmail has been an industry leader in blocking unwanted messages from appearing in inboxes.

There’s more to it, but the biggest factor in spam filtration are the users who report spam messages. When a person marks a message as spam, the Google system quickly learns to start blocking similar messages. The more spam Gmail users mark, the smarter the detection system becomes.

Let’s hear it from the big G themselves.

Spam on Websites, Spam, Spam in Comments, and Spam

Some useful WordPress plugins will filter out spam; Akismet is the industry leader, but WangGuard, and AntiSpam Bee are also excellent.

If you don’t get a lot of comments, your safest bet is to pre-approve them all before they appear on your site. But keep a lookout for anything that mentions another website, or ones that include a link, as these are most likely Spam, even if the message is nice.

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, and Spam Is Here to Stay

Though it’s usually locked away in the dark underbelly of the web, spam is as vigorous and frequent as ever. Unfortunately, we can’t stop it. But fret not, auto spam filters do a great job, and there are some excellent resources available online.

Keep a lookout for spam, but if some gets through it’s not the end of the world. Just remember the golden rules:

  • If you didn’t enter a lottery in Spain, you didn’t win it
  • No Nigerian Prince will ever need your help
  • Don’t use Western Union to send money to a stranger. EVER. FOR ANY REASON!
  • If you want a penis enlargement, see a doctor
  • If you want viagra, see a doctor.
  • If you want any medicine whatsoever, PLEASE SEE A DOCTOR!

What’s the best/worst spam you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured image: rookman48 / Deposit Photos
Spam, spam, spam: yasuhiro / Dollar Photo Club

Johnny 5 is the founding editor of the blog and writes about pressing technology issues. From important cat privacy stories to governments and corporations that overstep their boundaries, Johnny covers it all.