SPLOG = SPAM + BLOG

Thursday, September 29, 2005

My Recommendations for Google

Most of these applies specifically to Google but few does apply to other blog service providers as well.

1. Advertisers and online marketing companies should stop doing business with spammers. The motivations behind blog spammers are no different than any other spammers. It's all about money. If you reduce the money for spammers you reduce the spam. Google needs to be much more proactive on this front. I don't believe that Google is doing enough to cut the funding of AdSense revenue to spammers. From my experience Google hasn't shut down many AdSense accounts of spammers. There is another side of this as well. Google is currently letting spammers advertise their blog spamming software via AdWord. Just google for "blogburner" and you'll see that Rick Butts' blog spamming software is being advertised through Google's AdWord. I think it's about time Google makes it's position clear on where they stand when it comes to blog spam.

2. Blogger could put limits on various activities. If the limit is high enough it should not affect the blogging activity of normal or even highly active bloggers but it should prevent spammers from going about their daily spamming.

  • Limit on number of account a person can create in one day
  • Limit on number of blogs a person can create in one day
  • Limit on number of blogs a person can create per account
  • Limit on number of blog posts in one day
  • Limit on number of comments in one day

3. Put a timed moritorium on newly created blogs. Make it so that newly created blogs will not be indexed by search engines or show up on Next Blog ring for the first 30 days or whatever the approprite time may be. This will be enough to identify and delete spam blogs before it sees the light of day and do anything to pollute the search indexes. Currently a spammer can create dozens if not hundreds of blogs and they will just show up on Next Blog ring and get indexed immediately. This sort of immediate gratification is what needs to be addressed. Spammers are by nature not patient. They are out to make a quick and easy buck and slowing them down should frustrate them enough to make most of them go away.

4. Template tampering prevention is needed. Spammers are working around the Blogger's metatags by stripping the <$BlogMetaData$> tag from template and replacing it with their own metatags tricking search engines to index and crawl their spam blogs. This sort of tampering is well documented here. It should be very simple to put a check in the system to prevent such a tampering.

5. "Mark this comment as spam" feature is needed. This is analogous to the flagging feature but applies to individual comment. The information gathered from this kind of feature can make current antispam measures more effective and less intrusive. The current implementation of word verification feature to block comment spam has a serious problem with visually impaired users and I think most bloggers aren't aware of it's implications. I believe there is a smarter method that can solve these two problems at once. Instead of a word verification being all or nothing, it can be applied only when it's necessary. There is already a one pattern that exists for just about every comment spam. Every comment spam I've seen has a link to get user to click on them. A server can keep track of comments with links as well as comment flagging numbers to apply a word verification for suspecious spam comment. For example when there is lot of comment being flagged as spam and if those comments have link to some domain like buyfakewatches.info then word verification would kick in. There are other potentially effective means of curbing comment spam that can be implemented when data collection is in place. If a Blogger user is flagged as making numerous number of comment spam then they can be throttled down to not allow comment for set number of time. Perhaps a combining the ideas with #2 word verification is mandatory for newly created accounts. I'm sure there are plenty of other technical means to curb comment spams and they should be discussed further.

Ultimately spammers are depending on their ability to create mass number of accounts, blogs and comments. There are technical means to hinder this unrestricted creation of junk. Unlike email Google does have full control over their own infrastructure and therefore I believe blog spammer's days are numbered.

45 comments:

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Ralph de Bricassart said...

From my point of view, Google earns money with spammers with their "Google Adsense for domains" program:

"If your sites generate more than 750,000 page views per month, AdSense for domains is for you. Please click here to complete our information request form."
http://www.google.com/domainpark/

How many non spamming companies "generate more than 750,000 page views per month" with empty pages?

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Island Dave said...

Good stuff, splogfighter (despite the irony of the comment spam left here). Its pretty clear that Google has hesitated only due to the enormous revenues spammers/sploggers are generating for the AdSense program. The things you recommend could be quite easily incorporated, and quickly to boot.

Island Dave said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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