Monday, October 31, 2005

1118 Splogs Deleted

Today's deleted splog count is 1118. Splog deletion numbers will most likely jump up and down all week as expected. I don't have any hard numbers but just looking at the trend the new splog creation has slowed down somewhat since last week. I believe this has lot to do with Google's new captcha barrier they rolled out last week.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

1521 Splogs Deleted

To end the week, Google deleted 1521 splogs. The total for this week is 13738, an average of 2747.6 per day. I believe the tactics I am applying is actually working. I've essentially forced spammers to go through lot more hoops thus increasing their basic "cost" of spamming on their end by several times. Although I can't go into detail, I plan to once again double or triple their "cost". This coming weeks my daily numbers may actually drop considerbly but that's actually part of the plan.

Friday, October 28, 2005

3044 Splogs Deleted

3044 splogs have been deleted for Thursday. I've already met my 2000 splog deletions per day goal for this week with one more day to go.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

5860 Splogs Deleted

So much for easing off on number of splogs being reported to Google. I believe today's count is the personal record for the number of splogs reported and deleted in a single day since I began this blog.

Two Wrongs Don't Make Right

Today I've heard an idea by Mitch Ratcliffe to combat the splog issue. This is by far the most idiotic idea I've heard to date. He proposes a massive AdSense click fraud in effort to punish Google and AdWords advertisers. He thinks it's good idea to essentially punish advertisers financially so that Google is forced to fix blogspot. Of course he doesn't metion how exactly Google would fix the splog problem. Also he even admits that this will put money into spammer's pockets. I just don't understand how rewarding spammers thus encouraging them to create even more splogs will actually help the situation. This kind of rally for vigilante action is really unhelpful and extremely counterproductive. In general I believe this sort of end justifies the means way of thinking is quite flawed in more ways than one. I can only hope that people don't stoop to the level of spammers in effort to beat them.

Update: As usual Joe has written a very well written blog post regarding Mitch's idea. There is also some discussion brewing at FightSplog.com.

More Update: Mitch replies to many criticisms he drew over his idea. He continues to assert that what he is proposing isn't a click fraud just because his motives are to make a "political action". I suppose with his same line of reasoning, it's perfectly ethical to launch a denial of service attack on a spammer or in this case advertisers and Google as long as the motive behind the act is to make a political statement. I just can't understand how someone can justify causing harm to innocent third party just to make a political statement based on some twisted notion of vigilante justice.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

3313 Splogs Deleted

Today was an odd and confusing day because I thought Google completely ignored yesterday's batch of splog reports but apparently they deleted some of them today as well as some from today's reports but certainly not all of them. It looks like they are bit backed up from the weekend's support emails and they are barely keeping up with amount of splog reports I'm submitting. I guess I'll ease off just a bit for them to catch up.

Friday, October 21, 2005

4364 Splogs Deleted

Google deleted 4364 splogs I've reported. For some reason Google just ignored a batch of 500 splogs I've submitted so I'll have to resubmit them on Monday. The total number of splogs deleted for this week is 11976. The average number of splogs deleted this week is 2395.2 per day so I've exceeded my goals for this week by 20%.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

3293 Splogs Deleted

I would say that today was a good day. There are 3293 less splogs in the world. Google actually deleted 100% of the splogs I've reported. Although I can't go into specifics of what I'm doing exactly but what I can say is that I'm targeting specific kind of spammers in effort to change their routine and thus making it harder for them to be prolific. It will take some time but eventually I think they will be quite frustrated with how they have to go about generating splogs.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

1587 Splogs Deleted

I was quite disappointed to see that I didn't get any confirmation email from Google regarding my daily batch of splogs I reported but it turns out they were still deleting them. They simply didn't send me any email. It appears they actually deleted all reported splogs except nine splogs. I guess they just missed them. Anyway, I'm off to send out more splog reports to Google. I realize I'm quite behind my goal of 2000 splog deletions per day so I'm going to try harder and see if I can catch up to that goal tommorow.

Splog Expansion

Until now, every splog I came across were of english language. Today was first time I came across some non-english language splogs. I saw a Brazillian porn splog for the first time as well as some spanish language splogs. It was somewhat confusing at first because it was almost automatic for me to skip over all non-english blogs during my visual examination. Although it's not a big surprise but it appears splogs have finally gone international.

On a related note Russia has eclipsed UK and is now a distant second in source of splog while US still holds the lead on number of splogs being produced by wide margin. As an example, splog such as this one has image links pointing to a .ru domain with a unique identifier just like your typical email spam. As expected the traditional email spammers have caught onto the new blog spam as just an alternate medium to spread their junk. I expect to see lot more nasty stuff in the near future as web pages provide vastly more possibilities for abuse. I'll write more extensively about what may be ahead of us on another post.

Yet another trend I'm starting to see is spammers are starting to spread their splogs to other blog providers. For example these two splogs and many more were created by one spammer:


The reason why I know this is because on translationservices4u.blogspot.com splog, there are links like this to splogs hosted on msn spaces:


He started out on blogspot but now he has created splogs on msn spaces and he is cross linking them.

There are other examples of this across other blog service provider. This particular splog exists on blogspot:


This splog has links to typepad:


Perhaps I wasn't paying close attention to this but this is pretty new to me. It appears spammers are starting to diversify their spamming activities across multiple blog providers. The optimistic part of me is thinking perhaps this is a sign that they are starting to feel the squeeze by Blogger and they decided to move elsewhere. But then I'm guessing this is somehow a better means to trick Google to rank these pages higher since links are going to and coming from a different domain.

Clearly the splog problem is evolving beyond the scope of one organization's control. Some level of cooperation and communication between everyone in blogosphere is required to combat this problem effectively. I'm still quite cynical on this. I just have hard time imagining Google and Microsoft openly sharing information to address this problem to their mutual benefit.

Update: Here is a spammer who created five splogs. Do you know what language it is in? I didn't either but after little bit of digging I figured it out. I'll post the answer tommorow.

Update: Those five splogs originated from Prague, Czech Republic.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Google's New Captcha Barrier

To my surprise Google has actually done something about the current splog issue. They've implemented a new captcha barrier to suspecting splogs during a blog post. Although this is a step in the right direction, it may be too little too late. If they are determining which blog is a splog by the same algorithm to weed out splogs from Next Blog button ring, then this new captcha barrier does nothing for splogs that have already beaten the initial barrier. There are still quite a number of splogs including rather obscene porn splogs still showing up on Next Blog ring as I'm writing this. Having said all this I'm going to reserve my judgement and see how much impact this will have on growth of splogs. It's only been hours since this new barrier was instituted so once again I'll give Google the benefit of the doubt.

1736 Splogs Deleted

Today's effort resulted in 1736 splogs being deleted. Google seems to have selectively ignored about one fifth of my splog reports for some unknown reason. I'll try to resubmit the ignored splogs along with 5000+ ignored splogs from last Friday.

Google Responds to Splog Issue

Google has publically responded to the current splog issue. Actually they haven't done anything but to make a statement on the problem at hand. Only thing they've done that's different than two days ago is to publish a list of deleted subdomins. Of course that doesn't do anything to prevent or deter splogs. As I read what Google had to say, I can't help but feel unsatisfied with it. Obviously this splog problem has reached some level of critical mass and it was something that they can no longer ignore or sweep it under a rug as they've been doing all this long. I get the impression that this statement was more of a public relations move in trying to show that they understand the scope of the problem. However the words they've used are very wishy-washy and they've failed to convince me that they are taking serious measure to address the problem head on. I quote, "We can also make it more difficult for suspected spammers to create content." This is far different than stating that they are planning to do just that. I think it's long overdue for some real actions on the part of Google to do something. It's pretty clear the Flag as Objectionable button doesn't work and it has failed miserably. Depending on time of day there is just as many splogs in Next Blog ring as before flagging was implemented. Well, it does works great as a placebo but not much else. I think Google's response is yet another placebo to calm people down yet it lacks any real substance for me to be satisfied.

In the mean time I will back up my harsh criticisms of late with whatever I can do to help the situation. I will be submitting thousands of splogs in coming days for Google to delete.

Monday, October 17, 2005

996 Splogs Deleted

As I've noted on my last entry about 5000 reported splogs to Google has gone unanswered and now I assume they were simply ignored and discarded. Despite this lack of response I have not given up. I've still reported more splogs to Google and it appears they've responded. They deleted 996 splogs today. It isn't much but it's still better than nothing.

Splogs Reach Critical Mass?

With the exception of Mark Cuban and maybe Doc Searls, just about every high profile bloggers have been largely ignoring splog problem or at least haven't commented about the problem. Today is first day when many of them spoke out against it and urged Google to do something about it. IceRocket has even stopped indexing blogspot blogs for time being. Why did it seem like everyone took notice of splog problem all at once? It was because of one spammer. It appears this one blog spammer went bit overboard on Sunday and created tens of thousands of splogs all by himself. There was a definite spike in number of splogs on Sunday since early morning. He created splogs that were equivalent to about three times the daily average of all splogs being created per day. He essentially buried all all blogs and all other splogs with his massive number of splog. Also his splogs were designed to avoid Next Blog button ring filter so about half the day his splogs were only thing showing up on Next Blog button.

I wonder if Google will finally do something about splog problem now. Honestly I really doubt it and here is the reason why. Currently Google makes money whenever spammers makes money. They get a cut of the money whenever money flows from advertisers to publishers. No splogs, no money. It's that simple. Also having all these splogs clogging up blogspot and more importantly search engines actually help Google. For small search engines like IceRocket or Technorati, splogs are big problem since it will take up alot of resource to filter them out. For Google they have the money and the resource so it's not such a big deal. Having these splogs hurts the little search engines lot more than Google.

I've had these very cynical view of Google with regards to splogs for some time now but I gave them the benefit of the doubt so far. But when Google created Blog Search it started to make sense. I do believe that this splog problem will grow to the point where even Google has no choice but to simply remove blogspot and perhaps other blogs from the main Google search index. I see Google's Blog Search as a eventual dumping ground of all blogs which is essentially ghettofying the blogosphere. I sure hope it doesn't come to that but when my report of over 5000 splogs are simply being ignored by Blogger support, I can't help but to think this is inevitable. It's only matter of time.

If anyone wants the list of splogs created yesterday by that one spammer please feel to email me at fightsplog@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

2529 Splogs Deleted

Today's effort in fighting splog resulted in deletion of 2529 splogs. I believe I can sustain a rate of 2000 or more splogs being deleted daily for the next two weeks. Afterwards I will be making some adjustments to how I target splogs and spammers who create them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

697 Splogs Deleted

Today I've been able to shut down 697 splogs by reporting them to Google. I've quadrupled my efforts tonight and if Google removes every one of the reported splogs there should be several thousand less splogs in the world tommorow.

I've been tweaking my set of splog processing scripts and it's finding massive number of splogs with much greater efficiency. Perhaps it's working little too well because it found more than 18000 gambling related splogs. About three weeks ago I've reported a mixed batch of about 2000 splogs but most of them weren't deleted. I think Google support staff freaked over the size of the list and decided to simply ignore it. I found out today the trick to get Google to delete these splogs is to report them in a small convenient chunks. Trying to figure out how I can separate out 18000 splogs into some logical chunks is actually harder than finding the splogs in the first place.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Is Google Listening?

Apparently googling "blogburner" no longer shows Rick Butts' spamming software in blue sponsored links on top of search result. I started to wonder if Google actually stopped doing business with this spammer but after some digging it turns out that was not the case. Googling for "articleburner" will reveal his other spamming tool still being advertised. Perhaps Rick Butts has voluntarily pulled his advertisement off of Google. Then again maybe Google is one who removed the sponsored link but then how come they left his other spam tools? Did Rick Butts have multiple AdWords accounts and Google just happen to miss it? Perhaps Google has a problem with blogburner but not articleburner and therefore decided to keep Rick Butts as a advertiser despite the fact that he is still a spammer? I don't think I'll ever know for sure what happened. I have yet to get a clear indication as to where Google currently stands with regards to spammers on Blogspot, AdWords, and AdSense.

Speaking of Google doing business with spammers, if you google for "rss2blog", you'll see more advertisements of spamming softwares. rss2blog is a software that allows anyone to just dump rss feeds into blogspot blog in masses. This software tends to create splogs which has a predictable pattern of a link and a block of text below and this tends to bypass the recently implemented splog filter from Next Blog button ring.

Google was very quick to remove all 2763 porn related splogs I've sumbitted days earlier. Having said that I'm not entirely certain if I had anything to do with it. I never received the semi human/machine generated email telling me that they've received my email. That confirmation email tends to somewhat funny as well as bit annoying since it recommends that I use "Flagging as Objectionable" feature. I can't imagine me or anyone visiting thousands of splogs and clicking on flag button.

Update: I did eventually get a confirmation email from Blogger support.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Stupid Spammer

Apparently the spammer who created those 2763 porn related splogs isn't very smart. He left his web front end to his spamming tool wide open for public. Also it appears he is a Russian which I didn't know. www.oocasino.info is where his web front end is accessible.

Update: The spammer finally figured out that people were going into his web front end and started messing with it so he put up an authentication. It doesn't really matter because Google deleted all his splogs.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Current Status

My current list of splogs has jumped to 7520 entries. I am still accumulating blogspot blogs at a steady pace. I have more then 232,000 blogs archived which is about 28GB of raw data that will need to be parsed and analyzed. By my rough estimate between half to two thirds of those blogs are splogs. I began noticing some trends regarding the growth of splogs recently. About a month ago blog spammers were mostly small timers trying to generate traffic and make money by AdSense ad clicks. It has slowly attracted more serious professional spammers with their refined skills to thwart filters and javascript driven dynamically generated links. Now I'm seeing splogs with links to some site in Russia with unique identifier in links just like your email spam. I guess what they say is true. When you have one broken window you have to fix them as quickly as possible. If you don't you end up with whole lot of broken windows. They tend to spread like a wildfire. By tolerating the squalor, it become the norm. Right now blog space is quickly turning into a slum of the internet. Google needs to take drastic action soon and hopefully before it's too late.

2763 Splogs

I just reported a set of 2763 porn related splogs created by one spammer. Here are the first ten splogs as a sample: