The Curse of the Splogs

Like veritable plaques visited on the house of Blogdom, Splogs are fast making blog search irrelevant. For those unfamiliar with the term, the definition from Wikipedia:

Spam blogs, sometimes referred to by the neologism splogs, are artificially created weblog sites which the author uses to promote affiliated websites or to increase the search engine rankings of associated sites. The purpose of a splog can be to increase the PageRank or backlink portfolio of affiliate websites, to artificially inflate paid ad impressions from visitors, and/or use the blog as a link outlet to get new sites indexed. Spam blogs are usually a type of scraper site, where content is often either Inauthentic Text or merely stolen (see blog scraping) from other websites. These blogs usually contain an high number of links to sites associated with the splog creator which are often disreputable or otherwise useless websites.

Two days ago, I posted about problems I was seeing with Technorati, with an inability to have my blog indexed or my authority updated.  Ian Kellen from their technical crew commented back and one part of that comment hints at how seriously Technorati is taking the Splog problem:

The most common one is the case where a blog has inadvertently stumbled onto some tripwire we have for flagging splogs (we know, there are a lot of improvements to be made there).

Right on! I applaude their efforts to get us meaningful results.  To many of my Technorati searchs are full of page after page of Splog results with virtually no original posts.  He’s also got a good post on his blog about the ongoing efforts and some of the problems they’ve had.

But this isn’t a problem unique to Technorati or even blogs.  There’s a battle going on in the search world right now between the search engines and the people that are trying to clutter search results with inauthentic content, designed to get views solely from search engines, which in turn will drive either page rank, Adsense revenues, or both.  Scripted sites on autopilot have littered the landscape and threaten to make search irrelevant.

These scripted sites are often advertised via our own comments via scripted comment posting bots like Xrumer that endless spam our blogs.  I get hundreds a day.  If you blog, I bet you do as well.

We need to find a way to make the net more than a haven for scams and deceipt.  Personally, I think the best way would be to interject a human element into search, possibly melding elements of Indentity 2.0, and Social Networking.  This would allow search to make use of authority ratings for users, possibly even knowledge matter specific (I may know marketing and saltwater fly fishing, but I know nothing of Crochet).  By putting humans back in the mix, the Splogs and other vile spam would be pushed out of search results, ending their profitability, and when the cash dries up, they will indeed go away.

As noted in this Wired Magazine article (picked up off this post on Boston.com) this problem would go away quickly if Google Adsense would simply put a “report this blog” button on their Adsense ads.  Of course, there’s little insentive to do that when you’re earning 1/2 of the money made by the splogs…

My kudos to the Technorati team for trying to tackle the problem. 

Other Reading:

Is Blogger on the Offensive Against Spam? – PlagiarismToday.com (a great site…)
The Best Way to Kill Blog Spam Forever – Clazh.com

3 Replies to “The Curse of the Splogs”

  1. And our first comment comes from a Splog that has automatically grabbed and linked to my content because it had the word “PageRank” in it. I usually kill these, but wanted to show you the type of crap I’m railing about.

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