Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Comment spam on Google owned blogs


I’ve been meaning to write a post about all the comment spam on official Google blogs for a while now, but kept putting it off.
Even though I am reminded (what seems like) a few times a week. One time I even tweeted Matt Cutts about it, but my tweet probably got lost in all the other tweets he gets.

Basically ever since I left a comment of my own on Google’s “Inside AdSense” blog posts on May 21 this year, and opted in to receive emails for follow up comments, I have been receiving an email which tells me what is said in every comment that has been left.
So far not one of them has been genuine, they have all been spam.

What is Google doing to combat the effects of comment spam?

Well having the URL’s nofollowed is great for Google’s index, as it does help keep spam out of Google’s search results, but that doesn't stop the ultimate affect of the spam being left on a trustworthy site.

I know the majority of people can tell the difference, but I wonder what percentage of people think that because Google have not removed it, that its somehow OK and/or may be legit? Then click on the links, visit the sites and purchase items from them.

That’s obviously what the spammers ultimate goal is, I mean they can see that the links are nofollowed by GoogleBot, so I don't think for a minute they are spamming Google blogs for "SEO" purposes.
They simply want clicks, and ultimately sales.

The longer the links are left high traffic, highly trusted sites, the more chance they have of people ending up on their site buying stuff, and if they see in their logs that Google are indeed sending them traffic, then that will just encourage them (with good reason) to keep spamming Google’s blogs.

So why don’t they remove it?

I know that as soon as I get a comment on this blog (which is a blogspot blog using my own domain), I get alerted via email, and if its spam I delete the comment straight away.
But to be fair, my blog gets very little traffic compared to Google's, and therefore doesn’t get many comments so it’s relatively easy to moderate.

Google on the other hand have a network of very popular blogs covering all sorts of topics and services they offer, which no doubt gets tons of traffic and a lot of comments.
So is it possible that they just can’t keep up with the moderation, that its too much work for them to constantly keep deleting spam comments?

My guess would be that they have a day set aside where they go through and clean up all the crap they have ignored/save up over the months.
The oldest spam comment on the “Inside AdSense” blog post I have been following is dated April 28 2010. So it’s obvious they don’t do it very often.

Do they clean it up every 3 months (will it disappear July 28?). If so then that gives the spammers 3 months to promote their crapware.
Wouldn’t it be better to enable moderation of all comments so they don’t get published to the site straight away! Then at their set intervals, they could go through and either except or decline comments that are waiting in queue.
At least then the spam does not get “promoted” on their site while they find the time to delete it.

Blogger does offer a few different ways to moderate comments within the program, but a few more would be handy.
Could adding a "Flag as spam" button help alert blog owners to spam comments? I guess that wouldn’t help blog networks like Google’s if they don’t have the time to go through and delete the comments anyway, but it may help others.
Something like Akismet for blogger would also be a great addition to help combat the problem.If something like that is available, why doesn't Google use it?
After all, they obviously do care about it, they have a massive team devoted to trying to keep it from showing up in their search results.

So why don’t they hire a few people full time to try and keep it from their own blogs which turn up in those search results?

UPDATE: August 14.
I just noticed a new message/banner when I logged into Blogger...
Blogger automatic spam detection
So it seems Google are doing something about comment spam on Blogger blogs after all.
Come to think of it, I can't recall getting any 'new comment' emails from the Google blog this week. I guess they must have enabled it on at least one of their blogs! Good on ya Google.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Homeland security presents Disney on ICE


U.S. government agencies including the "US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE)" and the "Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)", yesterday executed four residential search warrants and seized domain names as well as assets from bank, PayPal, investment and advertising accounts, under the "guise" of a crackdown on Internet piracy.

No doubt the crackdown was "encouraged" by the RIAA and MPAA (often referred to as the "MAFIAA"), but ultimately will be funded by the US taxpayers to help protect the multi million dollar salaries the movie industry executives expect to be paid. (Oh, and to a lesser degree the actors, actresses, writers, grips, etc, etc)

Domains seized in the raids were TVShack.net, Movies-Links.TV, FilesPump.com, Now-Movies.com, PlanetMoviez.com, ThePirateCity.org and ZML.com.

NinjaVideo.net and NinjaThis.net, two popular streaming services were also seized as part of the assault.

I have to admit that I haven't even heard of any of these sites except one, the one I did know about, I never new was even breaking any laws.

I can understand them going after sites that were hosting copyrighted files on their servers, but from what I understood about filespump, was that it was just a custom search engine that returned links to files hosted on other sites based on users search terms?

If that's the case and they didn't host any files, then how are they any different to Google, Yahoo! or Bing?

Doing a search on Google for keyword site:rapidshare.com, will return links to files stored on rapidshare that have "keyword" in them. There is nothing wrong with that, and to assume all files stored on sites like rapidshare are illegal, or copyrighted would be wrong.
But depending on what keywords are used in the search, some of the results may be links to illegal or copyrighted material.
So how is that any different to what filespump was doing.

In fact I own a site called uvrx, which is basically just that, a custom search engine.
I designed it to search for files on sites like rapidshare, megaupload etc. I have no files hosted on the site, and the site is not designed to find "illegal" files, but if someone used certain keywords in their search, then links to copyrighted material may be returned in the results.
Both the domain name and website are hosted in the US. Could they seize uvrx too?

This whole "Homeland Disney on ICE" situation has got me a little worried... But I don't feel like I should have to worry about it. After all, lots of people use Google to search for copyrighted files... and Google don't need to worry... do they?