Doc Searls Misses the Mark on Spam Blogs

Source Title:
How to Save the Web from Splogonoma
Story Text:

Doc has an interesting post on the subject of spam blogs, and their threat to free content, and naturally, a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon, in my opinion, without much thought.

Doc says

For Live Web search engines, splogs are cancer. Same goes for all of us who depend on those engines.

I know, from reading Mark Cuban and from talking to the folks at Technorati (on the advisory board of which I serve), that (presumably all) the Live Web search engines are working their asses off fighting the problem.

Which wouldn't exist if there weren't lots of money flowing through AdSense.

Well, that we can agree on. The smaller "live web" engines have a big problem to solve.

I suggest that everybody in the search engine business, including all the Static Web and Live Web companies I listed above, pool their knowledge and expertise, and beat a cancer that (in my humble but considered opinion) threatens the whole Live Web, including blogging in particular and frequently updated free content in general.

Sure, but as he frequently mentions, these problems are fueled by Google Adsense, and other ad systems. Surely that needs to be addressed first? If these systems actually screened their publishers a bit better, and took a little responsibility for where their ads appear, rather than waiting for the public to "report" these problems when they've NEVER properly publicized the fact that you can report Adsense abusers, surely that would be more efficient?

There is also an open source solution to this: share the know-how. Even the data (perhaps through a public list of offenders).

Oh dear, we're really going down hill now aren't we? Im not going to dignify that with the obvious response, but it's worth pointing out where this post missteps.

Strangely enough though, his points on Newspapers and intermediaries driving us to a paid content web are very good, and really hit home with me - i've ignored them as i want to cover the "splogs" thing here, but it's a good post, if a little misguided in some areas, and worth a read.

Erick Shonfeld at Business2 has something sensible to add in comment to docs post:

It would be nice if we could learn to defeat splogs. But in the end people will learn to live with it just as they've learned to live with spam. I don't think free content on the Web is going anywhere. Splogs will just force people to take countermeasures to avoid it and increase the value of trusted sources of information (both free and paid).

I mentioned trust and content when talking about this eye opener from Jeff Jarvis yesterday, and that's where I think we're currently heading, we may not get there, but trust networks, social search and group search are among the areas that will begin to unfold and potentially replace the somewhat outdated straight up keyword search we know now.



I saw the Doc post yesterday

I saw the Doc post yesterday and was a little disturbed - because underlying the objection to "splog" is that a minority of internet users should determine the use and quality of materials posted to the internet in the first place.

Splogs may not necessarily be great content - but I'd be surprised if any significant percentage of the internet could be described as great content.

Yeah, I'd had the same

Yeah, I'd had the same thought when I read that, Nick. It's a nice thought but not realistic ...just another one of those tens of zillions of posts about how the [insert-community-du-jour-here] was going to have to protect itself from [insert-contaminant-here] pollution.

Doc, (I'd really like to not be so cynical but) what I'm finding out more & more is that while the A-list might like caviar the masses really gobble up dog food by the ton.

pool their knowledge and expertise

>>>pool their knowledge and expertise

last time they did that they came up with nofollow...

>nofollow Well, that was an


Well, that was an anemic answer at best. Great spin op for the fud factory, but like Doc's plea, not realistic. I've been also somewhat surprised by the number of posts I've seen essentially saying "fixing the search engines is not my problem, that's what they are getting paid to do."

agree with Brian

I agree with Brian, because the power to decide whats good, bad or indifferent should not be centralised in the hands of a few. Doc's also wrong on Adsense because as readers here would know that value in a "splog" (and yes I hate that word to) is not always in Adsense revenue but in providing links back to another site for the Google juice. I wouldn't be pointing the finger of blame at the Adwords team either because its the Blogger team who have failed so far in cracking down on these sites are to blame, although having said all of this I'm reading that this may be changing. Certainly the "splog" creators themselves seem to think so.

Splogs will follow the money

I don't think the move to "premium" content will get rid of splog... eventually they'll figure out how to get into the system somehow. Maybe I'm just being cynical. The thing is, I don't see myself paying $10/month for twenty different subscriptions to different content providers, which is why there's the argument for a "universal" premium content subscription, except that once it gets big enough I bet it'll be easier to become a premium provider and the sploggers will find their way in again.

Not to mention the fact that there will always be sites providing good free content, so there will be still be strong incentive for the search engines to provide paths to those sites through the chaff.

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