Thursday, October 20, 2005


i've been noticing an increase in comment spam recently. before a few weeks ago, i hadn't really gotten any... just one comment from someone allegedly trying to peddle his book on rev moon (and it was a post about rev moon, so even though it was shameless and spammy, it was somewhat acceptable). i didn't delete that comment, but in the past few weeks i've received several spam comments. it's on the rise. right now i have no intention of turning on word verification because that shit is annoying, but if i start getting lots & lots of comment spam, i won't have much choice.

zdnet has a story about a new kind of spam, which it calls "splog":

The attacker, or splogger, used automated tools to manipulate the Blogger-BlogSpot service and create thousands of fake blogs loaded with links to specific Web sites (home mortgage, poker and tobacco sites among them). The move was designed to doctor search results and boost traffic to those sites by fooling the search-engine spiders that crawl the Web looking for commonly linked-to destinations.

The counterfeit blogs also triggered thousands of RSS--Really Simple Syndication--feeds and e-mail notifications, swamping RSS readers and in-boxes.

The splogger executed a script that ran searches on blog search engines for specific keywords, said Wyman, notably names of some of the A-list bloggers, like Dave Winer and Chris Pirillo.

Then the splogger took the results, went to Blogger-BlogSpot and, using the service's application programming interface, or API, automatically created tens of thousands of blogs that contained text from the bloggers' real Web sites, Wyman said, along with links to the mortgage and other sites.

People querying the well-known bloggers' names in blog search engines, and people who track these bloggers and their write-ups via services like PubSub, Technorati and Feedster, then received feeds to the fake blogs, jamming RSS readers with useless links, Wyman said.

As a result, PubSub may stop including entries from Blogger-BlogSpot feeds in the normal results it delivers to users. PubSub is also considering requiring that users explicitly opt in if they want to see results from Blogger-BlogSpot feeds, Wyman said.

"We may be forced to filter out everything from BlogSpot," he said. "That would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. That's really unfortunate.", co-owned by well-known Net entrepreneur Mark Cuban, also said it would stop indexing Blogger-BlogSpot posts until it could get a splog filter in place.

the hit to blogspot's reputation is a shame, as it's a great service that allows anyone to set up a blog for free, and this sort of spamming and splogging is in nor way isolated to blogger or blogspot.

and i suspect, splog or no splog, that an index that doesn't include anything at all from blogger would not be a very useful index, as blogger powers a huge portion of the blogosphere. hell, at least 16 of the blogs on my blogroll are powered by blogger, if not hosted on blogspot.

update: paul points us to this informative post. though i don't believe for a second that the proportion of splogs on blogspot is even close to 60% (even the original author changed that to 42% and admitted that the sample was way too small for any real analysis).

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