Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Attack of the Splogs!

by Tom Bozzo

There can be such thing as too free (as in beer). Google's free Blogspot blog hosting service has long been a haven for spam blogs (or 'splogs'), and in fact it is so easy to set up a blog that automated spam blog creation has reached crisis levels, as Joe Malchow notes at Dartblog. For Blogspot bloggers like me and many of my blog pals, a cost arises from a Gresham's Law of the Blogiverse, to the extent blog indexes tune us out to cope with the splog assault.

While the zero cash price was a big part of the reason I located on Blogspot, I've had mixed feelings about it. In particular, I find the dependency of my blogging avocation on Google's mysterious business model a little unsettling. I assume they are in it for the free content creation, which can be turned into an adequate revenue stream by convincing enough bloggers to turn their hobby into an income source through ad placements. But really, who knows? In any event, I'd almost certainly stick around if a modest fee were imposed for the service — it shouldn't take much to kill off the market for splog creation.

The alternative is to implement a Turing test, like the type-the-characters verification step that is intended to keep spam out of the comments by separating people from machines. The problem there is that the tests are not necessarily robust to people with lots of cheap computing capacity to throw at them; also, as Scott notes at Semiquark, the spam market in its infinite wisdom has other solutions it can deploy when only a human will do.
Tom, when are you going to post something near and dear to my heart on the Overture Center? Think locally!

Paul Houseman
Request duly noted, Paul. I have a few random thoughts that I'll try to assemble in the not-too-distant future.
I'm with you. I'd happily pay some bucks to blog in a more reputable neighborhood.
"A few bucks" would cover your own domain name, some FTP software, and a "server" (e.g., a converted 80386 machine).

The problem is that the "more respectable" neighborhoods are not differentiable in the natural oligopoly of the Internet, so most of us are dependent on advertising or "brand recognition" (blogger, typepad, an ISP such as AOHell, or that thing not likely to be accessible at work).

I applaud the desire of the Phantom Scribbler to become, e.g., Susie Madrak, but doubt the reality of the market.
I won't speak for Phantom Scribbler, but the "more reputable neighborhood" criterion for me would be satisfied by Google engaging in some serious splog-stomping.

I did have a mid-90s PowerMac that would have made a fine Linux server had it not been abruptly recycled back in Delaware before I could say "Nooooooooo!" But I'm sure the value-of-time cost of blogging would cause me to faint if I were to calculate it, even without adding server administration to the mix.

I otherwise don't feel enough social stigma to the Blogspot (let alone a Typepad) address that I'm disinclined to let others handle the blog-software maintenance.
I just mean that if a few bucks would weed out the pornographers, I'd be happy to pay it. I don't care enough about social status to have any interest in my own domain name. Frankly, I don't really get the point of it. Bloggers with their own domain name do a lot of whining about how much bandwidth they use. Just what I don't need, you know? Even without the learning curve and hassles that my own server would require. Blogspot is serving my needs just fine.

Thanks for, um, applauding what you perceive to be my desire, though, Ken.
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