Friday, March 18, 2005
Wired makes SEO spam sound good
Wired just did an article on SEO spammers, Search Rank Easy to Manipulate. It made it seem as though the spammer is doing nothing wrong by spamming blogs and guestbooks, they are just taking advantage of search engine loop holes. It doesn't even mention wikis. I hit the send feedback link and sent this:
- This article makes what SEOs do sound perfectly acceptable. White hat optimization such as designing your own page to work better is fine. But tricking search engines is bad for users of those search engines. Would you rather go to a popular relevant site to buy a product or go to the one that has done the most SEO tricks? Tricking search engines alone is not good, but when they start to spam innocent people's sites to get more links its really going too far.
These spammers are ruining blogs, wikis, and guestbooks. This is not only annoying to other visitors it wastes a lot of time for the maintainers of the site to clean them up. If they are not cleaned up it only encourages other SEO spammers to attack the same site because they know its not going to be cleaned. Most wiki spammers replace the entire page of content when they spam. A few spammers threaten they will destroy the wiki if their spam is removed. I have even seen guestbook spammers hit a memorial page for Princess Diana. These people have no morals.
A lot of open source projects use wikis for their program documentation. They are often sites with a good amount of PageRank so make them frequent targets of spammers. Many of them end up having to be password protected because the attacks just become too much. Passwording dicourages users from contributing and hurts the growth of wikis, but spammers often leave no other choice.
Last week, RichardP, a very active wiki spam fighter recieved a death threat from a spammer because of his automated spam removal program: http://www.nooranch.com/synaesmedia/wiki/wiki.cgi?SpammingThoughtStorms
I hope you can do a follow up article on this topic from the victim's point of view. People know all about email spam, but most have no clue what is going on with web spam. Blog spam got a good deal of coverage over a year ago and little has been reported about it since. That is partly because blog software has improved to make spamming harder, less productive, and easier to block. But because of the open nature of wikis, they can't use the really effective prevention methods.