Spammers, Splogs, Sportals

You’ve heard me mentioning my comment spammer pests. These are the guys who spam my blog with comment posts containing links to something they’re trying to promote.

Sometimes they add nonsensical text to their posts; "I’m so bored", or kudos; "Good site!", "Great Job!" or "May we exchange links?". All nonsense, attempting to add to the ‘realism’ that it’s an actual comment.

I did some digging into the comment spam ecosystem, of which many blogs (including this one) are an unwilling part. Here are some notes:

  • The links they post are intended to improve the search rankings for their product sites, simply by their discovery by search engine spiders who crawl the web.
  • Improved rankings for their keywords improve their search result rankings, which means they bubble to the top of search engine results.
  • The links themselves typically point to Sportals, massive collections of computer-generated links which themselves link out to advertisers who have paid for the comment spam services.
  • If the spammer is the service provider themselves, they are using comment spam to self-promote their products.
  • The comment spammers might also be driving traffic to Splogs, computer-generated blogs containing content from articles posted in legitimate blogs. The Wikipedia article to which I point has an interesting discussion about what constitutes a Splog versus a Spam Blog (comments containing links, which sounds more like my problem).

If the search engines are fooled, the spammer’s results bubble to the top. Some number of real users will click on these links, driving traffic to the spam sites. The spam sites host advertisements placed there by Google or MSN, and if the users click on the ad links, the spam site gets paid.

Update: The 14.09 issue of Wired has a nicely-written article on this topic. The article goes into far greater detail and is worth a peek. Note: you may have to search the Wired News Archives for 14.09 and spin through the results.

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About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

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