Can Collective Action Stop Spam From Ruining The Internet?

By SamuelRose, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 12 years 17 weeks ago.

[via Social Synergy Weblog]


Steve Rubel has a great little article on micropersuasion about how previewing an upcoming Wired magazine piece about how "sploggers", blogs created to tap into contextualized ad services like Google AdSense, are ruining the blogosphere. Steve writes:

The [wired magazine] article, written by Charles C. Mann, exposes the underworld of link farms and junk blogs that are designed to generate traffic and advertising clicks. (I will add a link once the article is up.) The piece includes some really interesting points:

* Some 56 percent of active English-language blogs are spam, according to researchers at the University of Maryland
* A survey by Mitesh Vasa in December 2005 found that was hosting more than 100,000 sploggers
* One splogger interviewed by Wired (I'm not going to dignify him with a mention) made over $70,000 in just three months from his network of splogs

I know that in my own experience, I have found spammers copying my blog posts and then post them to their blogs under their own name. This is not a problem unique to blogs, actually. It's also a problem in wikis, message boards, and basically almost every type of participatory online system.

The MeatBall Wiki community may have one possible route to a solution for wiki spam in SoftSecurity. SoftSecurity is proven to work, but requires an engaged community to make it work.

Could a collective approach also work with blog spam, and "splogs"?

Steve Rubel suggests that the ad companies, like Yahoo and Google, should screen people better, to block out potential spammers. I think he is on to something. Perhaps interested people might be able to go even a step further, and work together to create a database of known spam blogs? Those same people could very well put pressure on Google and Yahoo, and blog hosts, to stamp out spam blogs.

The real question here is: How do you keep the barrier to entry low for things like blogging and joining ad networks, yet simultaneously keep the barrier to abuse high?