Thursday, September 29, 2005

Alias Tonight

' season premier is tonight. I can't wait. Some sites Alias fans should visit:

Blog by an Alias insider
A top fansite
A less fancy fansite with an awesome wiki.

See, this post is on topic because they have a wiki. ;-)

Serenity Tomorrow

Tomorrow I will be seeing . I have been waiting a long time for this movie.

View the trailers:
First US trailer
Second US trailer
UK Trailer

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

RSS 404

You know sometimes you need to retract or edit a blog posting. Like when you realize you are leaking company secrets and don't want to get fired.

Manni discovered this problem recently when he accidently posted to my blog instead of his (he is a Team Member on my blog). It had been so long since he posted I guess he got lost ;-). He realized it quickly and removed it, but by then it was too late. Google's had already got it so now his posting will forever appear as if it is on my blog and his.

Since Technorati and IceRocket aren't as closely related as Blogger and Google they don't index new posts as fast. That makes it is hard to tell if this problem affects them too. They don't list Manni's post on my blog.

It would seem to be easy for these services to detect deleted recent posts since they would then be missing from the feed, but feeds only go back a certain number of posts. We need something like a for RSS (and Atom) feeds.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Slashdot Bugged RSS

Manni has brought his blog back to life with a quite interesting post. He discovered has in their . He goes into more detail.

Slashdot just recently updated their code to valid HTML 4.01 and CSS. I wonder if this is one of thier "improvements."

Hidden Spam

Spammers are beginning to discover methods to hide their spam on and some other web software using CSS. The spam is easy to catch if you watch the RecentChanges page often enough, but Halz has already found examples where hidden spam has been overlooked. The spam shows up clearly in the diff and can be seen in the edit page but otherwise is invisible to wiki users.

More information on this problem on our wiki.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Accessible CAPTCHA

Marco has release a beta of an improved method of for WordPress called WP Spam Quiz. I have heard this method described as a logic puzzle. Manni mentioned it in his blog a while back.

Eric Meyer has had a similar WordPress plugin called WP-Gatekeeper in the works for a while. I have read Marco's is more flexible, but both work great.

Marco also has a version of this available for Pivot built into his Pivot-Blacklist plugin which also includes other antispam features.

Friday, September 16, 2005

My Review

After I read that was reviewed and showed really good results with a very small sample I knew I had to run my own test. I wasted a lot of time on this, but I think it was worth it as my test was with a much larger sample and came up with different results.

My sample was made up of 110 actual blogs and 201 splogs. Legitimate blogs were selected semi-randomly by searching Google for sites on Blogspot. The splogs were harder to find that way so were taken from various lists of splogs and some Google searches for spammy keywords. Most, but not all sites were easily identifiable as blog or splog by a human, but many blogs had some spammy characteristics that could have thrown off the filter.

Out of 311 total sites 113 (36%) were missclassified. It wasn't really as bad as that sounds. Most of the errors were splogs that were not caught and I would much rather miss a few splogs than make mistakes on actual blogs. There were only 16 legitimate blogs that were falsely labeled splog. That is only 5% of the total sample, but it is 14.5% of the legitimate blogs. That is too high.

There were also 5 splogs that the filter returned connection errors for. I had no trouble getting the sites to load myself. Trying again later did no good either, I wonder if the results are cached. That makes a lot of sense, but there should be some number of retries for connection errors.

Most links I tested were to the index of the site, but to give a thorough test I included some links to archive pages or specific posts. I wanted to see if that would make a difference. It did. Of the 16 missed blogs, 4 would have been classified correctly had I used the front page of the blog. I don't know if the posts I selected were extra spammy, but I suspect that the filter only checks the link it is given. If that is true it should either use both that page and the main page of the blog or just automatically truncate anything after the domain and test only the front page. But that may run into trouble on non-Blogspot blogs since the blog may start from a subdirectory. If the main page of the blog could be correctly identified that would give the best results.

I noticed some but not all sites identified as splogs showed the Blogger flag icon and said the splog had been reported to Blogger. In fact the image shown is the unflag image, but the flagging cannot be undone from the result page.

The interface for checking blogs needs some improvement. The bookmarklet is ok for checking or reporting one blog at a time, but that isn't really efficient for more active splog fighters. A textarea form to input multiple links and a table for the results output would be great.

The sites not correctly classified are listed on our .

Update: See's comments on my review.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

More Firefox Extensions

I found a really useful Firefox extension for people that work with wikis a lot, Resizeable Textarea. You just drag the edges of a text area and make it whatever size you need.

There are alternatives if you use GreaseMonkey:

Once you get a few extensions you will notice that extension authors put options for their extension wherever they feel like. Usually it is just annoying, but sometimes they put them in places that really get in the way. Menu Editor is the solution.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Every Day is Flag Day

When Flag Day was first planned Bloggspot still had a lot of spam in its ring. Now there is hardly any spam visible on the Next Blog ring. Because of that many think Flag Day failed. In a way it did, but whether Flag Day itself was succesful or not, the flag button (and whatever else Blogger has implemented) seems to be working at cleaning up the Next Blog ring.

Here are my Flag Day results out of 80 blogs:
2 splogs
2 questionable

Here are the questionable in case anyone else can make a determination:

Also interesting, I ran into one site twice and supprisingly within only two or three blogs. I also saw one blog that I had seen yesterday. After seeing no repeats in several days that was pretty supprising. And I found only two sites with no navbar, both were legitimate blogs.

The problem though as I have mentioned before is the spam blogs are still there. Though I only found a few splogs through the ring I certainly have flagged a bunch more today from existing splog lists.

Blog Censorship

This post is for those of you that think Blogger is hurting you because they are censoring blogs with Flag as Objectionable. I got a spammy comment from one of those, the whole comment was:

"I am putting together a separate blog on this particular topic."

If you are going to leave a comment about your site on my blog at least post some information and be on topic. This one was posted on my Flag Button Flaw which certainly had nothing to do with censorship. It was about how the Flag button isn't getting enough splogs removed. It is people like this that cause spam to be such a big problem. Blogger used to not remove any blog because of freedom of speech crap. SPAM IS NOT SPEECH!!!

Spam like is vandalism or graffiti. So what if it is on the spammer's blog? If a spammer moved into your neighborhood and started spray painting lots of objectionable content all over his house wouldn't that bother you? Blogger has a duty to the entire internet to get rid of splogs.

If this person actually read my blog you would think it would be clear he was targeting the wrong audience. I help run a blacklist to help censor spam from getting posted in wikis.

I posted the text below as comments to his "Hidden Censorship on Google's Blogger is now Official Policy." See that post for the context of what I wrote.


Do you people realize the problem Blogger has been under with all the spam? The main purpose of this flagging system is to clean the spam out. They aren't censoring blogs, they are just not promoting objectionable ones. You can still be as objectionable as you want. The only blogs actually being removed are a small portion of the pure spam blogs.

Blogger isn't going to care if a legitimate blog has been flagged a bunch of times if it is not actually objectionable. They are apparently overly cautious when they review flagged blogs because splog fighters are having a hard time getting obvious splogs deleted.

I suspect that the pinging not happening has nothing to do with being blacklisted. My blog apparently stopped pinging in the last couple days yet I have gotten several groups of hits from the Next Blog ring.

If you notice the Next Blog ring appears to be working different than before. Just a few weeks ago you would hit a bunch of duplicate blogs if you traversed the ring long enough. Now that doesn't happen. So obviously in addition to cleaning the spam from the ring they are using a larger random sample at a time to provide the ring.

Have you ever noticed that your ring hits are usually in groups? The reason for that appears to be because to populate the ring they choose a group of random blogs and they make up the randomly ordered ring for a short period of time.

They aren't censoring ideas, they are censoring spam. If you think spam has anything to do with actual ideas other than get rich quick then you have no clue what is going on. Spam is ruining internet search engines. Almost any search is full of spam results. How are people supposed to find anything? Finding actual information is like finding a needle in a haystack full of shit.

If no one can find your blog because the internet is so full of spam it doesn't matter that you are uncensored. No one will read it anyway.


I and many other spam fighters have been trying to get spam blogs and Blogspot members who spam removed from their service for a long time. The one time I got any feedback from them said something like that they did not police content of blogs because they wanted to protect freedom of speech.

The spam blog I was writing them about in that case was a porn spam blog full of explicit images. I mentioned to them that it should not be in the Next Blog ring because kids use that ring too.

They didn't want to have to make the distinction. Luckily months and months later they finally are doing this and now you want them to stop. I have no doubt they are still strong supporters of freedom of speech. But spam is not speech. They have a duty to the rest of the internet to clean out spam.


If they are de-indexing perfectly legitimate blogs it likely is because they don't have good guidelines yet as to what should be removed. With the small portion of spammer blogs that are actually getting deleted it seems to me there is more than one viewpoint on what gets removed. The same problem likely affects the sites getting removed from the ring.

But what is objectionable is totally subjective anyway. I don't think Bush bashing is objectionable, but obviously lots of people do. How can you write specific rules for determining something subjective. Obviously there are certain things they can write rules about such as pornography, but where is the line between porn and artistic nudity? And does it matter? Should there be no nudity in the Next Blog ring? We know Americans have a far different view of nudity than European countries and what is acceptable for childeren to see is totally different. There are lots of very good blogger photographers that I would never have seen if it weren't for the Next Blog ring. If you rule out nudity I would guess half the photographer blogs I have seen would be banned.

Blogger is saying that the Flag is not mainly for combating spam, but look at the timing. Their huge spam problem becomes heavily publicized across high profile blogs. And shortly after they come up with the flag system. Obviously they are using it for objectionable blogs too which they should be, but no matter what they say about it the main inspiration of it was to get rid of the spam problem.

I don't think Blogger (as a whole) is trying to censor legitimate blogs. It just depends if you get the wrong reviewer or if they are in a bad mood when they check sites that have been flagged. And they must do it very fast; some spammers create hundereds of totally useless blogs.

If they were doing it toally on the Next Blog flag I am sure my blog would have been removed from the ring as soon as the Flag button was implemented. Spammers hate my blog and I am sure have flagged it numerous times.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Flag Button Flaw

One problem with the Flag as Objectionable system occurred to me just now. If Blogger is only reviewing (for deletion) splogs that get a certain number of flags then that explains why they are not deleting many. Once a splog is removed from the Next Blog ring how are people supposed to find it to flag it? No wonder they are removing so few.

I am not a big believer that it will do much good, but Flag Day (September 10) is coming up soon. I wonder how they plan on finding the splogs since the Next Blog ring is so clean now.

Supposedly the Flag as Objectionable button is only the first step in the larger splog fight at Blogger. Chris left a comment at James Kew's blog saying "... the Next Blog steps are just what were first to be released."

I think I will wait and see before I get too excited.

Splog Survivor

I got to wondering how well Blogger was doing in actually removing flagged splogs reported here. As expected, not so good. Only 11 out of 40 (27.5%) splogs that I posted here between August 25 and September 4 were removed. I am not counting the Redirect Splogs (all of which are still working) or the ones that had no flag button (one of three is gone now) since they can't be flagged.

Here are the survivors:

And the ones who got voted off the island:

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Porn Blog

I just got a referrer from this blogspot porn blog post (I am not sure if it was from the Next Blog ring or a manual referrer spam):

It doesn't really appear to fit the usual splog definition, but it certainly is objectionable. It is a porn blog with lots of images and links to porn affiliates. Even though I normally only flag spam blogs this one was necessary. It is not something that should be in the Next Blog ring.

If you really think about it though, other than giving you free samples of porn they are no different than normal splogs. There is no real content. They are just trying to get PageRank and/or visitors. It is just like a normal splog loaded with keywords, only this time it is loaded with pornography.

Splog Detection Links

Fighting spam blogs: a hypothesis

Detecting Blogspot splogs the Bayesian way

Hunting spamblogs

NewsMan Returns

I am sure this blogspot spammer is just eager to see what I will do now that he comment spammed me again. I wouldn't want to disapoint him. This is the second time he has spammed me (likely would have been the third, but I turned off commenting before his second spamming visit). The first was here and today's is here.

He used to go around spamming blogs on blogspot on purpose; I don't know what he is up to now (likely just trying to piss me off). His previous Google searches to find victims were +"post a comment" +html and then he spammed them from his blogspot account.

Under his NewsMan blogspot profile he has two unusual splogs, be_online and blogoblog. They don't look like the usual splogs linking to his own sites over and over again. Instead they are full of text he stole from various places including WikiPedia.

Both I and Halz have reported his spamming to Blogspot support, but they didn't care. That is why we listed Blogspot on the LoserWebmasters page of our wiki. I first reported him on April 19th. Maybe now that blogger realizes they have a big spam problem they will finally do something about this guy.

I assume he realizes by now that every blog on uses rel="nofollow" on all comment links. That means it doesn't help the PageRank of links in comments at all. So he must be just after hits.

Today's spam was for, previously it has been that one,, and links to,, and with what appears to be an affiliate id of 111754. currently has some setup errors that let me see the directory the site is hosted in which was jarosek. links to and with the affiliate id jarosek. The owners of those sites, (Sanchez Sites), do have some stuff to say about spam. They don't specifically mention what NewsMan is doing, but they do ban more than just email spam in their terms.

More info on this spammer in our WikiForum Archives:
April 2005
May 2005

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

And since we are discussing a Hurricane Katrina blog I wanted to mention that I donated some money tonight. Not a lot, but every bit helps. I went through Paypal's United Way donation link. Wherever you donate be careful though, I am sure there are people out there trying to take advantage of this situation.

The damage there is just unbelievable. I don't know what people are seeing on news around the world, but it is about all we see now. In many places there is just nothing left. New Orleans is never going to be the same. I wish I had visited.

I don't have any relatives directly in New Orleans, but many in Lousiana and at least one who will be out of their house for several weeks. They were very lucky compared to what happened to so many people.

Next Splog (part 5)

Out of just over 50 hits of the Next Blog button I ran into only one clear splog and two questionable blogs, helphurricankatrinavictime and bbllb84sinkjet. I hope I am wrong about the Hurricane one especially, but I just couldn't be sure so didn't flag them. Parts of both blogs look unspammy, but others certainly look fishy.

I found only four legitimate blogs with no blogger bar. I wonder if blogger is throwing sites out of the "ring" for that. They certainly should, the bar is required by their TOS I am sure and by removing it you break the "ring."

Looks like Blogger is really cleaning up their ring. Other spam fighters have seen similar results recently. It is a really good thing they have removed objectionable blogs and splogs from the ring, but now they need to totally remove the splogs.

Update: Manni did a bit more investigating than I did on those two questionable blogs. They are both quite obviously splogs with what Manni found, but with only the quick glance I was giving sites it was difficult to be sure.

I forgot to mention that I saw no repeat blogs this time traversing the ring. Either they are using a bigger pool for the random ring or they are keeping track of which sites you have already seen. Since the former would be simpler I suspect that is what is happening.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Next Splog (part 4)

It looks like the reason some Blogspot blogs don't have the Flag as Objectionable button is because they haven't been updated since the button was implemented. A few stale blogs I check occasionally are missing the button.

I also checked on some of the splogs listed before that didn't have the button. One of them does have it now. And another has been removed from Blogspot.

Spammers certainly aren't giving up on Blogspot yet, I found these splogs that need flagging from Blogger's Recently Updated blogs list:


If I were Blogger I think I could come up with some simple methods that would identify a large portion of splogs. It wouldn't be hard, they share so many characteristics that few normal blogs have.

A few of the blogs I listed before are being shut down, but it is such a small portion I am having a hard time seeing much evidence that blogger is improving the splog problem. I guess it could be just that they were so full of spam it takes them a while to get to all the user flagged sites.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Redirect Splogs got a spam report that included a bunch of subdomains at free hosts including a bunch at blogspot. But what is different about these splogs is they are Redirect Splogs. If you visit them they will redirect you to a spammy search engine. The redirect happens before the Blogger bar loads so no chance of flagging them. I then had a brilliant idea of turning off Javascript. Turned out that wasn't such a good idea since the Flag button uses Javascript also.

Here are a few of the redirect splogs:



Ever wanted to try out Linspire but didn't want to pay for it? Now you can. Due to confusion with the Freespire project (which used the free components of Linspire) they are now giving away free copies of Linspire 5 for a few days.

I ordered my free download copy but their servers are really full now so it may be a couple days before I am able to download it. All you have to give them is an email address and create a password. No need to give away your mailing address or credit card number. This really is free. Of course the subscription to the update service (which is an important feature of Linspire) may not be very long, but at least it is free to try.

Darth Enjoyed Gardening

Found an interesting T-Shirt (not spammer related this time).