I’ve ranted and riffed about the preponderance of blog spam that threatens to give blogging a bad name, much the same as email spam has done to the email marketing industry.
Though tools have been developed and extensive efforts taken to curb the number of spam email messages that find their way into your inbox, blog spam has yet to be similarly contained.
Blog spam comes in a couple of forms. One variation is called comment spam (also known as link spam). Simply, malicious individuals and “robots” place spam messages in the comments section of blog posts. Those range from comments promoting pornography, to Viagra, to gambling. The latest iteration I’ve experienced is what might be referred to as “com(pli)ment spam,” with messages such as “nice post,” or “your site is very helpful,” and such like. (Hey, at least somebody is complimenting my site!)
Comment spam has caused some bloggers to turn off comments altogether, or employ various moderation techniques which demand extra administrative time on the part of the blogger. Fortunately, blog platform providers are stepping up to the plate and making the job of managing these a bit easier. (I especially like the way WordPress handles it.)
The other form of blog spam, and the one that most irritates me, are “spam blogs.” Technorati founder Dave Sifry defines these as “blogs that are created in order to influence results on a search engine by filling the results with spam or fake postings. Sometimes it is done to influence page rank-type algorithms, which monitor the number of pages (in this case blog postings) what link to a page or a site.”
Most of these seem to be created in Google’s blog platform Blogger. Fortunately, they are beginning to do something to stem the tide.
A recent Search Engine Watch blog post mentioned two steps being taken. The first is the use of something called “flags.” According to SEW, flags “allow the Blogger community identify potentially ‘objectional’ blogs.”
A second feature is an option for a Blogger user to require word verification for comments people post on a Blogger powered blog, according to SEW. In other words, a person who leaves a comment will need to enter a word or letters into a box to get the comments to post. This is an increasingly common feature being deployed with online forms. Yahoo! uses it all the time, for example.
Though blog spam is giving blogging a black eye, there are many valid reasons to use the medium as a marcomm platform. As the problem worsens platform providers will be forced to deal with it, and deal with it they will.