Monday, January 29, 2007

MyBlogLog and spam

I am amused by these ways to spam MyBlogLog, a little widget you can put on your weblog that shows the last people who visited your site, described by Emre Sokullu and Michael Jensen.

It is inevitable that a system like MyBlogLog, if popular, would get spammed. I suspect it will be difficult to prevent. Spammers have quite a financial incentive to manipulate this feature since, if successful, they essentially get an advertisement for free in a placement that would normally cost thousands.

Note that the spam attempts only started once Yahoo acquired MyBlogLog. Before this point, MyBlogLog was not big enough to attract spammers attention. With the Yahoo acquisition, a financial incentive appeared.

All very predictable. In my October 2005 post, "Getting the crap out of user-generated content", I said:
Small sites work dandy when they're only used by early adopters. Early adopters are dedicated, so the quality of the content is high. Traffic is low, so spammers don't care about them.

As they grow, as traffic increases and the products start to attract a mainstream audience, the incentive for spam go up. Suddenly, there's a profit motive, an ability to reach a wide audience at low cost. The spam floods in.

Websites hosting user-generated content need to be designed with the idea that much of the content will be crap or spam.
See also my earlier posts, "Growth, crap, and spam" and "Digg struggles with spam".


Jordan Mitchell said...

I agree that it's inevitable that a system like MBL would get spammed. Same with Digg. Anywhere there is potential for self-promotion, there is an incentive for gaming/manipulation. As I pointed out in my own blog, I'm sure it's not all evil -- I imagine most of these people have quite good intentions, are saying the magic word, and even have worthwhile content.

I have two points to make: first, this demonstrates once again the incredible desire for personal content publishers to be heard, above the noise of everyone else. The blogosphere is desperate for a platform that allows them to promote themselves in a way that is accepted, not fought.

Second, gaming needs to be built into any system which has the potential for self-promotion. Make it a "feature", and you have the basis for strong viral growth. Ignore the possibility, and then you can only react to it as a threat.

Jordan Mitchell
Others Online

Greg Linden said...

That is a great point, Jordan. Digg and MySpace certainly have gotten impressive growth from embracing self-promotion.

Paula Neal Mooney said...

I love! I've gained some dedicated blog readers thru them, and in turn I've become a dedicated blog reader to a few folks.

And yes, I prefer to spam manually, with heartfelt and engaging comments.


Gimme some of that link love...