Well, last night was about the 7th time I’d been messaged by a salmon-themed screenname. The first time I was messaged, I asked if they were a bot, and got a response. However, since I have used the TrillAlice plugin before for Trillian, I knew that just because it responded with simple, yet pertinent answers, doesn’t mean it’s not a bot on the other end.
So, after the first time, I replied with something ridiculous, usually “I want your body…in my mouth.” and then blocked the user, and closed the window…
creepysalmon: Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.
creepysalmon: who the hell art thou?
[[Neo]]: creepysalmon: Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.
[[Neo]]: Auto-response sent to creepysalmon: Away since 6:54PM (GMT-6)
[[Neo]]: creepysalmon: who the hell art thou?
[[Neo]]: creepysalmon: [[Neo]]?
[[Neo]]: you started this…who are you?
creepysalmon: Looks like bots have gotten into Yahoo.
creepysalmon: it’s a bot.
creepysalmon: our apologies.
creepysalmon: [[Neo]]: WE verily miss you. Dost thou ever think about the good times?
creepysalmon: how very droll!
Until last night, when I decided to await a response…
liberatedsalmon: I may be a robot, but if you say ‘domo arigato’ to me, I will hurt you.
[[Neo]]: domo arigato, beeyotch
[[Neo]]: I want your body…
[[Neo]]: in my mouth
[[Neo]]: only if you get in my mouth
liberatedsalmon: you first
[[Neo]]: so how come you’re creating all these *salmon screennames? do people really click your links?
[[Neo]]: how much of this conversation are you actually participating in?
[[Neo]]: on my end, you initiated it
[[Neo]]: liberatedsalmon: I may be a robot, but if you say ‘domo arigato’ to me, I will hurt you.
[[Neo]]: [[Neo]]: domo arigato, beeyotch
[[Neo]]: [[Neo]]: I want your body…
[[Neo]]: [[Neo]]: …in my mouth
[[Neo]]: liberatedsalmon: huh?
[[Neo]]: liberatedsalmon: http://[spamwebsite]/debtfree
[[Neo]]: [[Neo]]: only if you get in my mouth
liberatedsalmon: you im’d me
[[Neo]]: what was my first sentence?
[[Neo]]: was it what I just sent you?
liberatedsalmon: thats what poped up on my screen
liberatedsalmon: you said lets play desert bus together.
[[Neo]]: can you copy the chat log from the beginning few lines, and send it to me?
liberatedsalmon: my nic isnt salmon anything .. your’s is allergenicsalmon though
[[Neo]]: interesting…I bet someone grabbed our screennames, and is proxying them to other people
[[Neo]]: my real one is “[[Neo]]”
liberatedsalmon: allergenicsalmon: Let’s play Desert Bus together! M.R.: huh?
liberatedsalmon: mine’s M.R.
[[Neo]]: hmm…this is not the first time I’ve had a salmon derivative IM me
[[Neo]]: talking about seeing things in the clouds, or if I liked puppy dogs
[[Neo]]: I wonder what ProjectU is, according to that profile
liberatedsalmon: who knows
[[Neo]]: I’m investigating further…I’ll let you go since neither one of us started this conversation…maybe it’s an elaborate scheme to get people to meet people online :-p
liberatedsalmon: definalty wierd
liberatedsalmon: i’d say it was a hack attempt but i didnt get any links to click on
[[Neo]]: I got one from you
liberatedsalmon: unless there’s an exploitable bug in the new yahoo IM
[[Neo]]: but I am not even using Yahoo Messenger
liberatedsalmon: i usually use trillian
liberatedsalmon: but i got yahoo messenger last week to test some web bits.
[[Neo]]: it has to be something inside the protocol for yahoo messenger…if I had to guess, I’d say someone set up a Jabber/XMPP that connected to the yahoo IM service, and was using fake names to initiate connections to gleamed sn’s
[[Neo]]: I do too…Trillian Astra
liberatedsalmon: i wonder if it has anything to do with the yahoobox you can add to your website
[[Neo]]: that thought kinda makes me interested in setting one up, just to try it, and solve the question that’s floating around the internet
[[Neo]]: probably not…at least not on my end – I don’t do hardly anything with yahoo and this screenname
[[Neo]]: I have to use it for work, but that has a different acct tied to it
liberatedsalmon: well good luck!
After working out that neither of us started this conversation, I was able to surmise that it was either:
- an exploit in the Yahoo Instant Message delivery protocol, using the OpenSource Jabber/XMPP protocol, since one doesn’t have to be on another’s buddy list in order to contact them. or…
- a non-malicious social experiment to connect people with other people on the internet.
Well, my estimations and predictions weren’t too far off.
Last night I went searching for salmon screennames and ProjectU, and came across @mjlambie‘s twitter page, and his post made in January about the liberatedsalmon screenname, and left a message. This afternoon, I find a response from him mentioning Project Upstream. A couple click-arounds, and I come across a LiveJournal page that describes the project, in vague detail. A couple more clicks, and you can find more details about it.
Essentially, from the comments on the LiveJournal page…
“…Project Upstream was trying to identify the open minded people who would be willing to swim against the stream and chat with the random strangers with whom they were connected.”
“The world honestly needs more ways to reach out and meet each other. Connecting people randomly should be an every day occurrence. I can wait to see who I get paired up with next.”
…the project is to connect random people on the internet, all part of a larger project/idea called “The Great Hatsby“. Fortunately, they have included a command that you can send to stop receiving random connections to your screenname: “$optout”. Just send it to any of the spamfish and it will remove you from their list.
So there you have it, hope that helps get you started for finding out why you’re getting these messages from allergenicsalmon, liberatedsalmon, creepysalmon, or any other *salmon-derivative.
Update: Since the original posting of this article, over 1.5 years ago, The Great Hatsby wikipedia page has been removed from the site. The article detailed how a similar project was done on the AOL Instant Messaging platform using trout-derivative screennames.