First Time in the US: Gulf Photo Plus is Coming to Seattle.

It's April 1st …

UPDATE: Okay, I think they got the idea.

They pretty quickly retreated to voicemail, and then were beseiged by messages of yet more barking -- and even some panting.

Long story short -- they have promised to never, ever spam this site again. I'll believe it when I see it, of course. And yes, I have other things in mind if they start up again. Fun things.

Many thanks, folks. Apparently, your bark is worse than their bite. I am gonna pull the number now, but leave up the post.



If you have a moment -- and a phone -- please continue reading for a way you can help me pull off a little April Fool's fun.

Okay, maybe it's equal parts fun and revenge. But still …

One of the unfortunate things about running a highly trafficked blog is dealing with comment spammers. You do not see them, as I spend time all day moderating their many, many comments out, and your comments in.

They are the reason you have to have an account to comment on this blog. They are also the reason you have to decipher those drunken-letters CAPTCHAs everywhere.

They are pretty scummy, in that they do not care how much time they waste for other people in the hopes of getting just one one-thousandth of one percent of you to actually click through. It's a numbers game, at our expense.

The Mark

I have had a devil of a time with one particular comment spamming company. They are one of those sleazy plagiarized term paper shops. I even contacted them, via phone, email and live tech support to try to get them to stop comment spamming me, to no avail.

Still, they constantly flood my comments with dull, unimaginative spam. This morning, for instance, I spent my morning reading and moderating out such relevant, pithy comments as:

"Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

[Link to spammy site] Term Paper Writing"

It is annoying, and a waste of my time in that I do not want the stuff to get through and degrade the comment section into garbage.

Seeing as today is, well, a special day, I wondered if some of you might help me have a little fun and waste a little time on their end for a change.

The instructions are simple: I would like anyone who would be interested in joining my efforts to call their direct support number and bark like a dog.

Say nothing. Just bark. Bark expressively -- carry on any conversation they may initiate by barking in various tones. But just … bark.

Or whimper, if you like. Have fun with it.

The number is in Delaware, in the U.S., but I am pretty sure it rings through to India. (My mistake. It was Russia.) If you want to join in, please preserve the secret. My plan is to call them tomorrow (I will remove this post after an appropriate amount of time) and ask them again to please stop spamming me.

Or else I will have to release the hounds again.

Feel free to report back in the comments with any reactions, be it funny or profane screaming. Suffice to say that I have kinda had it up to here with spammers, and I am ready to dish some back.

Thanks so much for any help.

The number is [since redacted, out of a small remaining sense of decency]. I just called to check it. It's them.

Thanks for your help on this special day.



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Blogger JBrew said...

This is awesome. I'm in.

April 01, 2010 11:30 AM  
Blogger Ed Marshall said...

Why do I have a feeling that I'm going to hear a recorded message from Rick Astley when I call that number? ;)

April 01, 2010 11:35 AM  
Blogger Samantha Nandez said...

LoL, cheers! I'm for it

April 01, 2010 11:35 AM  
Blogger Ann Parry NY said...

Okay - called and the young guy who "identified" himself started laughing in quite a charming way when he heard the barks, so I'm guessing it was not the first such call he got today :D

April 01, 2010 11:35 AM  
Blogger isteb said...

Let the dogs out. I'm in.

April 01, 2010 11:35 AM  
Blogger Msdfds said...

What a nice idea ^^ ... if i were from the U.S. i would help. But i think its a little expensive from germany.
But i really understand that once in a year there must be a day where THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK! ;-)
cant wait for the first feedback.

April 01, 2010 11:41 AM  
Blogger Hipporage said...

IN!!! Down with the spammers!

April 01, 2010 11:42 AM  
Blogger garrett hamilton said...

TOTALLY IN on this one. I just cleared my throat in preparation.

April 01, 2010 11:42 AM  
Blogger Apartment #3JS said...

I will call and bark, I just need a place to hide so people around my office don't see me barking! lol.

April 01, 2010 11:44 AM  
Blogger Deejay said...

Are you sure you wont get into trouble for inciting mischief or something along those lines?

April 01, 2010 11:47 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Blogger doesn't offer a kill filter for comment spammers?

April 01, 2010 11:47 AM  
Blogger said...

Yo David,
The first time I called the number, I played a recording from one of my voice-notes about Wallingford in Seattle. They said:
"You've got a bad connection today...Goodbye."
I called a second time and asked in Spanish if I could speak to someone who speaks Spanish, and they weren't so polite (and that's an understatement).

It's probably college students at a call center (not outsourced, based on the accent) and I have an idea a lot of people are going to quit today. Fair enough, they're not very nice.

April 01, 2010 11:49 AM  
Blogger NotYourAvgJoe said...


April 01, 2010 11:49 AM  
Blogger Rikk said...

That was fun. Like an internet insurrection. 60's protest chant. Rage against the machine. Thanks for making us part of your payback!

April 01, 2010 11:50 AM  
Blogger NotYourAvgJoe said...

woof !

April 01, 2010 11:50 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I'm in too.

April 01, 2010 11:51 AM  
Blogger MSPStrober said...

I just called up, then rang my doorbell and let my 2 beagles bark and howl at the guy on the phone until he hung up - 5 minutes in. He laughed the entire time.

April 01, 2010 11:54 AM  
Blogger Alex Pletcher said...

I'm so down haha.

April 01, 2010 11:54 AM  
Blogger Simon.K said...

Very nice idea, too bad that im in germany an the phone fees would eat me :-/

April 01, 2010 11:59 AM  
Blogger Alex Pletcher said...

bahahaha! the man said hello and once I started poorly imitating a bark... he began to sing. he just kept singing and it became a little awkward so at the end I told him thanks for singing to me. He found it rather hilarious.

April 01, 2010 12:00 PM  
Blogger Jerry said...

What a great idea. Our little Australian Terrier had quite the conversation with them. He barks and howls non-stop when he wants to play fetch. So I got him going and then called.

6 minutes and 18 seconds before they hung up!

April 01, 2010 12:08 PM  
Blogger Barnacle said...

if i could i would! but,, from belize? uh uh.

good luck!

April 01, 2010 12:08 PM  
Blogger chrissy may said...

did it once with a barking youtube video playing and now when I call back no one picks up or it goes to voicemail. don't worry, I left them barking voicemails (:

April 01, 2010 12:11 PM  
Blogger eip said...

Are you using Akismet or something similar? They do a pretty go job at filtering out the comment spam.

April 01, 2010 12:17 PM  
Blogger TomboCheck said...

Don't know who this schlub really is, but he seems to have a good sense of humor about the whole thing.

April 01, 2010 12:17 PM  
Blogger Charles Verghese said...

Can't call the US but...will help spread the word

My Tweets from earlier:
THE @strobist STRIKES BACK The dark story of David Lightstroker getting back @ the evil SPAMpire JOIN IN ON DA FUN!

Also posted the face of the enemy on twitpic: Characters from STROBIST WARS

April 01, 2010 12:25 PM  
Blogger Faraz said...

I called, there was a voice machine on the other end and I left them a fairly long message.

It didn't feel as satisfying as barking at a live person but that's life.

April 01, 2010 12:25 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Went straight to voicemail:
(in a British accent)
"The person you are trying to reach is unavailable at this time"
I sat on the line and left them 30 seconds of panting loudly like a dog.

April 01, 2010 12:26 PM  
Blogger Michael Tissington said...

I can't but help that this time David is fooling the folks who have actually called in !!!

April 01, 2010 12:31 PM  
Blogger Barrosinc said...

Glad to chip in with a phone call from Chile... voicemail was on... left a barking voicemail

April 01, 2010 12:34 PM  
Blogger Three Flavours said...

With all the help that you've dished out, I'm more than happy to spend an afternoon on the phone.. I'm also going to try to record audio for you! I keep getting an english accent that says that they are unavailable..

April 01, 2010 12:41 PM  
Blogger Carter Rose said...

hmmm this smells like a joke within a joke.. are you double april fooling us?

April 01, 2010 12:45 PM  
Blogger Raleigh Beringer said...

I just tried to call 3 times and get the voice mail each time. So I barked anyhow... I did finally get through on the 4th time and started barking and the person started swearing as he hung up the phone. Something about a (#&@^ing waste of time). It is working to a degree so keep it up!

April 01, 2010 12:48 PM  
Blogger Hassel Weems said...

I would do it if I had time. I'm still busy with that Super SB800 button push sequence down.

April 01, 2010 12:49 PM  
Blogger spy said...

"The person you are trying to reach is unavailable". Think we may have shut them down.

April 01, 2010 12:55 PM  
Blogger Cailin said...

errrRIP! (Sheltie-speak)
'The person you have dialed cannot be reached at this number. Please leave a message.' errrr (Sheltie whine).

BTW calling from the loading dock generally gives you privacy...

April 01, 2010 12:58 PM  
Blogger Juan Hernandez said... the voicemail...oh well maybe next time!

April 01, 2010 12:58 PM  
Blogger kaziutek said...

left a woofing message after the beep :-)

April 01, 2010 1:07 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Can I moo instead? :)

Can't do it until the evening.

April 01, 2010 1:15 PM  
Blogger JimC said...

Bow wow!! I LOVE it!!

April 01, 2010 1:17 PM  
Blogger Steven Erat said...

@eip et al: Captcha and Akismet are intended to block automated or robotic comments by providing a visual cue that only a human can understand and a software bot cannot. Akismet is better in that it also detects things like mouse movement frequency and the rate of keystrokes to further increase the likelihood that a qualified comment is in fact a real person.

A comment that is considered spam by the blog owner and has passed the Akismet test has most likely been entered by a real person that has been hired to add 'fake' comments that indirectly link or otherwise advertise a third party website.

I've been dealing with comment spammers for 10 years, and as the spam detection mechanisms improve over time, I'm often impressed at the lengths comment spammers will go to make themselves appear to be legitimate readers.

April 01, 2010 1:26 PM  
Blogger David Sr. said...

Google that number and "Strobist" comes up first! wow.

I am calling now....

Let this be a lesson to them!

April 01, 2010 1:28 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I called and got an english accent voicemail. not sure if they stopped taking calls for lunch.So I Barked into the Voicemail. Great idea...

April 01, 2010 1:29 PM  
Blogger James said...

This the best idea I have heard of in a long time! Thank you for a good laugh!

April 01, 2010 1:33 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I called them. They're not picking up their phone anymore though, so I left a message of dog-barking clips I found on Youtube...

Down with spammers!

April 01, 2010 1:35 PM  
Blogger lfzguud said...

Called it via Spoofcard using a number that looked very close to their own. Got an answering machine. Left a full minute of barking on the voicemail.

April 01, 2010 1:36 PM  
Blogger erik said...

Did my part.... it went to a voice mail now though :(

April 01, 2010 1:36 PM  
Blogger oscar said...

Hi David, just wanted to say it's a terrific idea, I'm in, I will call them from Colombia, thank you so much for STROBIST it means a lot for me

April 01, 2010 1:36 PM  
Blogger j. austin studios said...

No barking, but they got a voicemail of a Bon Jovi song via my iPod headphones: "When the World gets in my face, I say...Have a Nice Daaaaaaaaaaay!" ha ha

April 01, 2010 1:36 PM  
Blogger greg_smith_112 said...

I got a message saying that "the person you are trying to reach is not available, please leave a message." I then left a lengthy barking message...highlight of my day. (sigh)

April 01, 2010 1:40 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Called from Ireland. Got voicemail :-)
Left a bark.

April 01, 2010 1:43 PM  
Blogger proudtoshootpentax said...

They seem to have jumped to voicemail now, but I've left a few messages for them.

April 01, 2010 1:46 PM  
Blogger MaCanuck said...

To follow up on the Akismet comment: I know it would ruin the charm of having a blogspot account, but if you were to upgrade to a wordpress account, Akismet would take care of 95% of this, Bad Behaviour 4% leaving you with only a thousand comments or so to moderate.

I'm sure somewhere out there someone would be willing to put in the legwork to help you create, built on Wordpress and featuring much awesomeness.

BTW, I'm not calling, because, knowing you, it's Joey L's cell phone.....

April 01, 2010 1:48 PM  
Blogger InFocus|Photography said...

I think that someone should call and play that song "who let the dogs out." I would, but I am at work.

April 01, 2010 1:51 PM  
Blogger Larry_L said...

it went straight to VM saying "The party you're trying to reach is unavailable" LOL I'll try back in a little bit! We should create a forum just for companies like this.. :-)

April 01, 2010 1:53 PM  
Blogger Michael Henry said...

Power to the people! I love it.

April 01, 2010 1:57 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Now seems to be a recorded greeting - barking message left from UK by Skype.....


April 01, 2010 1:57 PM  
Blogger Max said...

Done. This must be having some impact because I was sent directly to voice mail where I barked sincerely.

April 01, 2010 1:57 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

That was fun! Once myself and my son were barking, my dog joined in. It was just a voicemail. I think by Noon CST they have stopped answering the phones. I hope it helps a bit!!

April 01, 2010 1:57 PM  
Blogger jared_irl said...

This is awesome. I'm getting my whole office in on this. Woohooo!

April 01, 2010 2:14 PM  
OpenID yo-sarrian said...

I'm down with it too. I hate spammers, BUT, I feel bad spamming what amounts to innocent telephone-operators who are just doing their jobs that a bunch of jerk-off spammers hired them to do.

April 01, 2010 2:17 PM  
Blogger Scott E. Detweiler said...

yea, it is no longer being answered by a person. just going straight to voice mail. nice job, hopefully it wasted as much time for them as it costs you when you have to remove their spam.

April 01, 2010 2:20 PM  
Blogger Immaculate Images Photography said...

I keep trying but the number just rings that was going to be fun.
The least we can do to help've helped us so much already, its our turn to give back!

April 01, 2010 2:22 PM  
Blogger Robert Lavigne said...

HAHA to much fun. Mine message had a bit of a story to it. It starts with a lonely dog howling away. Then he hears a cat meow and the chase is on... for several minutes. Then a lovely enters the story winning the heart of our young hero. Yeah its a slow day in my world.

April 01, 2010 2:26 PM  
Blogger DarkMatter said...

Sweet Effort.
I called got voicemail and left them a BarkMail instead. Might as well jam that up as well. In fact, my actual dog chimed in too!

April 01, 2010 2:28 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Personally I think David is God :-) At least when it comes to off-camera flashes. When he says, I do :-) I left a few barks on the voicemail :-)

April 01, 2010 2:28 PM  
Blogger TheJames said...

I got their voicemail... oh well.

April 01, 2010 2:30 PM  
Blogger PKDesigns said...

I would love to call seeing as how it's most likely Joey L's phone, but the number is not up anymore :( someone post it?

April 01, 2010 2:50 PM  
Blogger Arne G said...


April 01, 2010 2:56 PM  
Blogger Piedmont Photo said...

Holy voicemail Batman! This is great and look at the comments! I can only imagine how many folks called that didn't leave a comment here. This is monumental my friend. Monumental. And I must confess, I called twice. :-)

April 01, 2010 2:56 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

I got their voicemail, too, but I didn't let that stop me. They received and expressive message from some stray dog!

April 01, 2010 2:58 PM  
Blogger Jim Poor said...

Ah yes, my dog and I had a great time with their answering machine.

Then, out of nowhere, the Baha Men joined in :D

April 01, 2010 2:58 PM  
Blogger Todd.Austin said...

I'm lovin' it, David, but do you have a new number for us?
It seems you've gotten the desired impact, but it would be nice to really drive 'em nuts, you know?
BTW, I always enjoy your wit in the blog. Keep up the good work!

April 01, 2010 2:59 PM  
Blogger BinaryOnFire said...

Oh come on David! Its only 2pm Central! Put the phone number back! I've been dealing spam spammers and captcha every day for years and years, and this is the first time I've ever had the chance to fight back in a meaningful way! I never thought this would be a place to take a stand, but wow! How about 1 call per day for a month from every strobist reader?! We can make phone bill soar!!! DDOS attack OLD school!

April 01, 2010 3:08 PM  
Blogger Stormin said...

Called them for ya... got the VM, too so I left them Eddie Van Halen's Eruption, alternating play speed between, normal, 1.5 and 0.5.

Happy 1st to you!

April 01, 2010 3:39 PM  
Blogger Kevin Halliburton said...

I'll second the suspicion that this is Joey L.'s phone number. Sorry David, at midnight my faith in you returns but I have a standing policy to never do anything you suggest on April 1st.:-)

April 01, 2010 3:43 PM  
Blogger Larry_L said...

Joey L is in Brooklyn, Not Delaware..
ye of little faith. LOL

April 01, 2010 4:14 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

Hilarious even if it's JoeyL's phone#. That'll teach him for being a punkass in Dubai ;-)

April 01, 2010 4:22 PM  
Blogger said...

I left my two cents (on their voicemail). I couldn't figure out a way to play this recording of my dog howling for them:

April 01, 2010 6:07 PM  
Blogger Rafael said...

Did it work? did they stopped spamming the site?
I wish you hadn't taken the number off the site.
Radelafu from Mexico

April 01, 2010 6:28 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

You know, I think you may be on to something. The power of a well followed blog / site means a focus that can actually get these guys to notice!!

Now what you need is a clip (authorized, of course), of the song "Who Let the Dogs Out"? on this post!


April 01, 2010 7:32 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I called earlier, went to voicemail. I gave them a few minutes of the dogs barking Jingle Bells...

April 01, 2010 7:41 PM  
Blogger sodabowski said...

So, whose number was really that? :)

April 01, 2010 8:01 PM  
Blogger David said...

For those asking, it is exactly what it seemed. No joke-within-a-joke, etc. Spammers waste my (and your) time every day. I just thought it an appropriate day to push back a little.

Many thanks for the help!


April 01, 2010 9:16 PM  
Blogger dasoussan said...

David - Discovered your site a year ago, and as they'd say to Rush Limbaugh, 'dittoes'

I'm a computer geek with > 30 years first, and a photographer as a hobby. So perhaps I can give some back. I don't know what uses for a host, or what capabilities you have with them to tweak, however I setup numerous companies that get little to no spam via various block lists that track spamming IP addresses and with a DNS query you can lookup and block the connection entirely. So the question becomes, can some similar technology be setup for your site?

I know I can do it at my firewall here - and I know you don't host your own stuff - I am to networks and systems as you are to photography. Even did a webcast for Microsoft on debugging with a network sniffer. Anyway, I'd love to throw my expertise your way and see if there is a way to make their life more difficult and your life easier.

I'm at - feel free to check out my website for technical stuff that might be a bit deep, but hopefully tells you I'm smarter than your average bear. Contact info is there as well.

Thanks again for your work and knowledge!

David Soussan

April 01, 2010 10:01 PM  
Blogger 家瑩 said...

thank for share, it is very important . ̄︿ ̄

April 01, 2010 10:10 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Recited a lines from Hounds of the Baskervilles to them in howling, whimpering and general mad barking. They very quickly hung up. Had to call from England, but this was so worth it.
Count me in the next anti-spam action!!!

April 01, 2010 10:55 PM  
Blogger eeeksNYC said...

I was in recording I barked along with soundchecking drums...hope they didnt mind.

April 01, 2010 10:56 PM  
Blogger J said...

Who let the dogs out!!?

What a great idea! Dude I can't believe you worked for a paper for that long!!

Long live the strobist.

April 02, 2010 12:40 AM  
Blogger TheArtfulBurner said...

This was a great idea. I'm sorry to say that I didn't see the post until you had already pulled the number but, if that company should continue, this is worth doing any day of the year and every day of the year till you get a result.

April 02, 2010 1:10 AM  
OpenID said...

I really thought bloqspot should have an anti-spam system. At least, one that blocks links inserted in a blacklist.

April 02, 2010 1:17 AM  
Blogger Vineet Modi said...

Ah I'm late this time! Else would've barked the Indian dogs out of them! Grrr

April 02, 2010 5:26 AM  
Blogger David said...

I wish I had gotten in on this. What a great way to get back at spammers. Count me in on the next one. sure that wasn't Joe Mcnally's number? LOL!


April 02, 2010 6:48 AM  
Blogger DaveRe said...

Well, I missed out... This is awesome and hilarious!

But, it would've been funnier if it *had* been a double, and you'd posted JoeyL's cell phone number...

It would've been even funnier than that if you'd posted McNally's cell phone... :-D

April 02, 2010 8:45 AM  
Blogger aclark said...

Hello David,

Excellent concept! I've been reading the sight for several years and have certainly taken inspiration from your April Fool's jokes. I want to share what my colleagues and I created to celebrate the day--and share an important message about recycled toilet paper.

Feel free to share on the site.

All best,

April 02, 2010 8:45 AM  
Blogger Slide Gurtiza said...

hmm. any chance the people picking up the phones are in a catholic country and are on holidays, hence, the voicemail?

April 02, 2010 10:18 AM  
Blogger revjvegas said...

I can only think of one word...


Its about time someone sticks it back to the spammers.

Good on you!

April 02, 2010 11:48 AM  
Blogger Steve Thurow said...

Why should we limit it to April 1st?

April 02, 2010 2:59 PM  
Blogger Christopher Paul said...

Perhaps they could have used Google's new Translate for Animals app for Android: it speaks dog.

Sorry. Not available for the iPhone yet.

April 02, 2010 10:33 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

OMG! Sitting here lol at all of the comments - I'm so sorry that I didn't get to this until the 2nd so I could have "barked-in" to them.
Best 4/1 ever!
Sheer genius.

April 02, 2010 11:19 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

LOL.. That's hilarious. I was too late but... d*mn, Hobby... I hope you talked to your lawyer about this first.

- Matt

April 03, 2010 4:05 AM  
Blogger Research Writer said...

Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.
Term Paper Writing

April 03, 2010 8:06 AM  
OpenID uvaspina said...

you are evil. And a genius.
Some sort of evil genius.

There's art in this. ^_^

April 03, 2010 8:26 AM  
Blogger Abraxsis said...

Im not a fan of dogs ... so I meowed. Then I remembered the meow scene in Supertroopers and started laughing myself.

April 03, 2010 8:54 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Wonderful Idea, I hope it spreads to other sites. It is time to fight back against spam.

April 03, 2010 9:04 AM  
Blogger golftooter said...

Sorry I saw this too late to call. You provide so much it would have been nice to give back.

This reminded me of the times I glued junk mail to a brick and returned it to the sender.

April 03, 2010 12:50 PM  
Blogger etegration said...

this is great spam back!

April 04, 2010 12:24 AM  
Blogger Steve Black Photography said...

next year - same thing, but give out Joe McNally's cell number :)

April 04, 2010 12:40 PM  
Blogger Teamrivers said...

It's simple steps like this, with the power of readership, that can bring a company down (or retreat). It takes effort, funding, and creativity, but it can be done. Well played, bravo...bravo. I'll try and make sure to read more often as I LOVE to participate in these things. It's cost me a job, and almost a legal battle in the past...

April 05, 2010 10:10 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

If you continue to get spam from them, let me know and pass along the number -- I live in Delaware, so I'd be happy to track down the address and stop on by their office to have a chat with them. :)

April 06, 2010 9:40 AM  
Blogger Barry McBeth said...

This has got to be one of the funniest tings I've ever read....Too late to help out, but it really made my day!!! Great job everybody!

April 07, 2010 3:10 AM  
Blogger Dan Brady said...

If Blogger doesn't have Akismet or similar spam filtering, I seriously recommend moving to Wordpress. You can have a free account with but I'd obviously check that they'll be ok with your volume of traffic first. First step is to see why Blogger are letting all this spam through …

great idea btw but I worry you're barking up the wrong tree, etc ;)

April 10, 2010 3:29 AM  
Blogger Mick said...

You must have driven them barking mad... I bet the staff at the call centre thought things had really gone to the dogs... it does look like one spammer slipped thru, or was that someone's funny? Check on April 3rds comments... a post by reasearchpaper.

April 13, 2010 12:23 PM  
Blogger Apeiron71 said...

I caught this post the day after. and I was soooo MAD that I missed out on that fun.

April 26, 2010 4:21 PM  

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