Wednesday, October 26, 2005

How Not To Fix The Blogspot Issue

Mitch Ratcliffe is promoting solving the splog problem by doing enough AdSense click fraud on blogspot splogs that Goolge takes some action. It seems to me that Google is taking action. I guess Mitch thinks since they haven't instantly solved the problem they aren't doing anything. Google is far from solving the problem, but they are doing something.

Mitch's plan relies on a bunch of people going to splogs and clicking on their ads as a "political action." To Mitch it is not click fraud since it is not their own sites. Not many agree on that. But anyway, it is not going to go very far. Most people not smart enough to realize it is click fraud will be too lazy to take part in any combined effort to punish a tiny portion of sploggers by giving them more ad revenue.

The rest of this post is in reply to Mitch's comments on Toivo's post at It got so long I decided to make it a post on its own.

As Toivo mentioned, Mitch appears to be confusing splogs with comment and trackback spam. If you are going to come out with THE solution to spam on the internet you should know what you are talking about and be clear.

Mitch says he want Google to fix Blogspot's spam problem. Blogspot's problem is fake blogs (splogs) setup by spammers to increase the PageRank of their actual sites. Yet Mitch also says:

"Fully 40 percent of my traffic each day is sploggers trying to post to my site—because I restrict the number of comments and trackbacks every few minutes much of the time even the sploggers get shut out, but so do legitimate commenters and trackbacks."

Comment spam and trackback spam don't automatically mean splogs or sploggers. Some sploggers may also send out trackbacks and comment spam, but that is not the real problem of splogs. The problem is splogs are filling up search results with garbage or stolen content making it hard to find what you are looking for. Since splogs are not intended to get good PageRank there is little need to comment spam for them. Splogs are the spam, designed to increase the PageRank of the spammer's main site just like comment spam tries to do.

Splogs are just a new form of spamdexing which has been around for many years and Google is constantly improving their algorithms to filter it out. The problem is that just because Google cleans them out of its index doesn't make them go away. In the case of splogs at Blogspot, Google can actually delete them. But there is nothing stopping spammers from creating splogs on other free hosts or their own sites. It is just convenient for now to create them on Blogspot. Spammers have been creating fake content pages for years. The reason people outside the antispam community finally took notice recently is because a few big name bloggers noticed that their content was being stolen and used for the fake content of splogs.

Most splogs have AdSense ads, but that is just because it is convenient and might make a bit of money from a few human visitors that run across the splog. Any revenue they make from it is nearly 100% profit, so why not? But AdSense is not the point of splogs and if AdSense didn't exist splogs still would with or without advertising from some other company.

Mitch isn't seeing the bigger picture though. Google is making money off of every splog that had AdSense on it, if they shutdown a splog and don't give the spammer the money, where does that money go? What is worse than the AdSense problem, all these splogs and other junk pages are filling the internet with junk. Google is getting good at weeding out that junk from their search results. It is a never ending battle though since spammers keep adapting. Google's competition is much further behind. If users get tired of the spam filled results of other engines that is good for Google. Google has little incentive to actually solve the internet wide splog problem.

But they couldn't solve it even if they wanted to. Google could shutdown AdSense right now and it would have no effect on splogs, comment spam, trackback spam, or referrer spam. Google could also stop using PageRank or any other link based ranking and it would have no effect on web spam either. As long as search engines exist web spam will exist. Other than using their algorithms to filter out sites that are spam there is nothing more Google can do (outside of cleaning up Blogspot).

Sorry, but you're not seeing the big picture: Mitch isn't seeing the bigger picture though. Google is making money off of every splog that had AdSense on it, if they shutdown a splog and don't give the spammer the money, where does that money go?

The money goes back to the advertiser, who is the only entity that can assert influence on Google because they have the only paid relationship.

I don't know anything about your background, but do find out about mine before you assume I am being short-sighted. This kind of thing happened 10 and 12 years ago, leading to the crapification of lots of the Web.
If AdSense money goes back to the advertisers why would they care to "assert influence." They got a free ad impression.

But you must have missed the rest of the paragraph. It wasn't a very well written paragraph (it was 4:30 in the morning), but the bigger picture is that splogs are good for Google because they hurt other search engines worse.

What was the solution when this kind of thing happened 10 and 12 years ago? The same as it is now. Attempt to remove or reduce the visibility of the spam through filtering algorithms and blacklists. A search engine can't solve the problem any other way. And neither can "political" click fraud terrorism.

Your background or not knowing what mine is has nothing to do with how stupid this idea is.
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