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[Chicken bones] Glossary - Chickenboner

A spam-fighter once painted a vivid picture of an archetypical spammer living in a decaying trailer in a run-down trailer park, unkempt and wearing dirty clothes, hunched over a computer in semi-darkness, surrounded by rotting chicken bones in half-eaten fried chicken buckets, with stacks of empty (and a few spilled) beer cans and piles of dirty cigarette butts obscuring shoddy computer equipment and worn-out furniture.

This imagery gained popularity in the 1990s, especially as many spammers were deeply offended by it and reacted more than angrily in forums such as NANAE and various eMail lists; the term "chickenboner" was commonly used to describe any two-bit spammer trying to incorrectly convince others that they were some sort of wealthy self-made big shot.

Although 20 years later this term may still apply to some, spammers come from nearly all walks of life nowadays, with states of wealth that are assumed to range from the super-poor to the super-rich.  Some spam-fighters continue to use the word "chickenboner" when referring to spammers out of nostalgic regard for tradition worth remembering.

Antics (stages)

When observing chickenboner antics from start-to-finish, a total of three behavioural stages are typically identified:

  1. Denial and acting.  When caught spamming, the chickenboner first tries to appear innocent, but this is just a ploy to get an extra chance to send more spam (and it often succeeds, partly due to some polite and humble acting).
  2. Grandiosity and threats.  The chickenboner attempts to create the impression that they are a very wealthy and powerful business person or are well-connected to influential politicians, and make threats to litigate for ridiculous charges of business interference, libel, etc.
  3. Retribution.  After figuring out that they can't win, the chickenboner resorts to threats of retaliation, sometimes with violence, but often with a variety of forms of harassment (which they sometimes follow through on over the course of many years) that very often include ad hominem attacks.

The first stage can be particularly difficult for most people to detect, but is often immediately obvious to the seasoned spam-fighter (usually because they've seen it so many times before).  A mildly entertaining example of a chickenboner, who appears to be stuck in the second stage (available in our archives), is centred around a suspect claim that their $300,000 proposal was blocked because his/her IP address was in a well-known blacklist.

See also

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