Weblogs or blogs are regarded as the next big thing by many, but as Duncan Riley reports, spammers are targeting blogs in a battle that will challenge the open nature of the medium.
Although there is no such thing as a typical blogger, despite some anecdotal research that most bloggers are teenage girls, Gary Murphy of Teledyn could be regarded as a fairly average blogger. Based in Canada he blogs about general items of interest to him, yet he recently experienced a new form of cyber terrorism that may threaten the unique nature of the Blogosphere as we know it. Blog Spam
Blog Spam, also known as Comment Spam or flyblogging, uses the open nature of blogs by utilising the comment features of blogs to post links to for profit sites, such as sex and drug sites. The object of the spam is to drive traffic to the sites through visits from blogs, and to increase the links to the site so as to influence their page ranks on Google.
Murphy comments that he believes Blog spam was inevitable “a great unspoken fear of the bloggerville that just as we of the great Internet frontier circa 1989 had thought our little enclave of decency and trust could never crumble to the unwashed masses, so too is the blog space just a little too welcoming and blossoming because of it, but it’s a party that, in the reality of our times, probably cannot continue. We’re still wrestling with what to do about email where we can remain contactable by Strangers yet not be deluged by offers of all-natural investment scams, and now, to our distain and despair, the same is happening in the blog space, and with increasing frequency.”
Many blogs have now experienced blog spam, with new scripts being designed to prevent them. One such script recently launched is MT-Blacklist, for the MovableType blogging system by Six Apart, which utilises a blacklist function to block known sites and phrases. But others contend that this will not be successful.
BBC Technology analyst Bill Thompson believes that Building blacklists of sites that flyblog will be as ineffective as attempts to blackban e-mail spam. He states that “Blogs evolved out of a desire to remove barriers to online conversation, and restricting their ability to add comments would seriously reduce the sort of lively debate that makes them so interesting.”
And here in lies the conflict bloggers face from blog spam. Blogging is successful due to its open nature, and the ability to comment on blog posts is an important part of that process. Restricting or removing the ability to comment in the face of a continued onslaught of blog spam risks damaging the uber-growth being experienced by the blogosphere.
New ways of preventing or filtering blog spam will emerge in coming months and years, and possibly even laws against it, in a similar way to laws against e-mail spam have emerged, but until viable alternatives emerge, the blogosphere must tread carefully in balancing freedom of speech and communications vs. those which abuse our freedoms.
(note: I wrote this article recently as an assignment for an E-Commerce course I am studying, hence the context, thought it might be worthy of a posting here).