View blog reactions Waiting for Speedway Fowler: Here Come the Splogs

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Here Come the Splogs

Well, it had to happen eventually.

The spammers have started their assault on the blogosphere.

You knew they would. They can’t leave anything good about the net alone.

Any new mode of communication is, by it’s very nature, vulnerable to mis-use, and the more open that means of communication, the more vulnerable it is.

And so it is with the blogosphere, that collection of millions of individual voices making themselves heard in their unique ways, all across the internet.

There’s never been anything quite like Blog Nation. Yes, there were BBSs and Usenet, but for the sheer breadth and span of blogs, it’s an unprecedented level of discourse.

(Just one quick example: I was in Montreal last week. The Montreal Gazette is considering making changes to it’s comics page. So the paper has set up a blog where the new and old strips are being debated and defended in a vigorous affirmation of peoples’ love for, and need of, Doonesbury, Garfield, Get Fuzzy and Marmaduke. I doubt this was the kind of use Tim Berners-Lee envisioned, but it’s just as valid as the enternal religion and politics flamewars that dominate many sectors of the net… maybe more. And okay, I was lying. Nobody defends Marmaduke.)

And so, into this valley of civil exchange come the Marauders. Sleazy hucksters on horseback, swinging their axes.

The current issue of “Wired” talks about the invasion of the “splogs”, automated dummy pages set up like blogs, serviced by spiders that crawl the net, cutting and pasting targeted search terms and blocks of other nonsense text, designed to get their pages positioned for the most hits on blog searches. The owners – a surprisingly concentrated group of companies – make their money on click-throughs. So they load up the net with the clutter of fake blogs. Assembled by automated programs, maintained by shysters, communicating nothing, just looking to trap the unwary and make a few cents.

It’s estimated that more than half of all English-language blogs are now nothing but spam pages in disguise.

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