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24 Jun 2008

Some Thoughts on Comment Spam

Picture for: Some Thoughts on Comment Spam

Over the last two days I've been innundated with comment spam. Furthermore, there's been a fair bit of discussion amongst bloggers regarding the splog phenomenon. Here are a couple of thoughts on the subject, though nothing earth shattering.

Of most interest is the timing of the spam I received. I had let this blog go dormant for about six months, and during that time did not get a single item of comment spam. However, when I started posting again a couple of weeks ago, the spam started flooding in. What this tells me is that the spammers are listening to Technorati or some such and spamming only active blogs. As an expermient I've turned off my Technorati and Ping-o-matic updates. We'll see what happens.

Turning off the blog search engine pings doesn't upset me much. Most traffic is driven to my site from Google, and the Technorati search is so laden down with splogs that it is quite literally useless. I just typed in the name of my town to see who might be blogging about events here. Of the 20 entries Technorati displayed on the first results page, 17 were from splogs. Useless. It would be interesting to know how Google filters out the noise.

Speaking of Google, can't we get some relief from that corner, something more than the rel="nofollow" attribute. All this comment spam and referrer spam is there for one reason: to game the Google page rank system. So long as Google enables spammers to monetize a link, then there will be spam. And clever ideas like Internet Stamps isn't gonna help. In a four year old post, Mark Pilgrim explains why.

Despite the above, here's a potential solution that's only occurring to me now, so bear with me. It's very similar to your standard public key authentication technology, but instead of a chain of trust (with Verisign or the U.S. Post Office at the top), it's a web of trust ala PGP's system. All news aggregators and browers have a button for generating a digital identity. Every time you comment on a blog you send along your ID by digitally signing your text. At some point, possibly the same inflection point that causes you to add someone to your blogroll, you can "trust" this commenter. Now here's the good bit, the Web 2.0 bit, news aggregators/browsers can subscribe to the trust lists of others and add them to their own trusts list, therefore easily expanding your circle of trust.

Circle of Trust

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