Blogger Buzz: On Spam describes Google/Blogger’s ongoing fight with spamblogs I wrote about a few days ago. They’ve even published a blacklist of spamblogs to help indexing services weed them out.
I forgot to mention it in my earlier post, but the big white elephant in the room is WordPress and the affinity spam bloggers have for the WP platform. This is no slag on Matt or the community he’s built, it’s just the tool they like to use after Blogger. Blogspot is an easy punching bag because it’s one giant source host and Google’s behind it and has the resources to stop it, but what can we do about the thousands and thousands of wordpress spam blogs republishing RSS feeds from others, loading them up with Adsense banners, and being hosted all over the web? WP is released under GPL and any spamblogging plugin, extension, or tweak of WP code can’t really be stopped (this isn’t an argument against GPL, but I’m just saying the problem can’t be stopped at the point of software being used for bad things).
Do you go after their webhosts? Is the act of gaming search engines with spam blog linkfarms and creating empty content (with others’ RSS feed excerpts) adsense sites the same as anti-spam rules in webhosting terms of service agreements?
In other words, when the (single-webhost) blogspot problem gets licked, how on earth do we combat the (many hundreds of webhosts) powered-by-Wordpress spamblog problem?
I might suggest that if they are repurposing copyrighted content for commercial purposes they might be liable.
Being released under the GPL doesn’t make a huge difference, ie Apache, Linux. I think the problem lies in two other areas; WP takes zero time to setup and it makes pinging a lot of services really easy. You could make a few more hoops to jump through for setup, and increase setup time to 30+ minutes but that’s annoying. I’d focus on the latter, it might be a good idea to require some sort of API key to use the pinging ability — not everyone needs it.
It’s incredibly depressing to see a tool you pour your heart into be perverted like that.
I agree that WP is becoming the tool of choice for splogs, though if there were no WP, they would just use Planet or something else. Can you blame WP for being easy to setup? 🙂
But there is a huge difference between blogspot and wordpress: the former is hosted and free, whereas the latter requires that you have:
a) a server
b) a domain
If you want to pay for hosting and a domain name (at least $7 a year, plus server) to generate a splog, I think that’s quite a different story from abusing a free service and violating its TOS to do so. I personally find it distasteful, but a good chunk of internet users don’t think there’s anything wrong with making a splog if you’re footing the bill yourself.
Another way to view the problem is that the difference between an unauthorized aggregation splog and a crappy, mostly-links, human-generated blog. A lot of internet users can’t tell the difference in some cases. Again, if you’re abusing a free service to make your splog, that’s not right, but I kind of think you have the right to make your own website the way you want.
Finally, I believe most of the automated aggregation-splogs rely on RSS feeds. This raises a whole host of questions. Is it OK for a web-based feed reader to republish your posts? What about a splog? What if the feedreader has ridiculous ads? Where do you draw the line? How do you maintain intellectual property rights on something that’s published in a form that is designed explicitly for distribution and republishing?
Let me state it again…
Matt has it clearly stated on this site that the content here cannot be used for commercial purposes, so if there are splogs that are repurposing copyrighted content/RSS feeds (that does not allow commercial use) for commercial purposes, then they seem most certainly liable. Wouldn’t a few thousand lawsuits shut them down more swiftly than trying to filter them out?
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