Just say NO to Comment Spamming?

14 comments
Source Title:
Can We Declare Automated Comment & Link Posting To Be Bad?
Story Text:

Danny Sullivan is asking Can We Declare Automated Comment & Link Posting To Be Bad? - Sure Danny, but it's not going to change anything...

Danny's being his usual diplomatic self of course. He's saying, well if we can't call it unethical, can we at least call it uncool? He wants the SEM industry en masse to declare comment spamming (and some related automated link gen) bad.

Let me quote Danny a bit, to put this in context then i'll treat you all to the dubious benefit of my take :)

On the blog community's squeals

There's no doubt the blogging community in particular feels the pain. Screams from bloggers lead directly to the nofollow attribute. But as many expected, that's had no real impact on slowing down blog spam. An automated tool doesn't care if you have nofollow on or not. If it's just a few milliseconds to hit you along with a million other sites, what the heck? It can and will do so.

Getting (almost) realistic

I'm not overly optimistic that some industry push to declare automated link/comment insertion tools to be "uncool" or dare I say "unethical" will necessarily work. I think the same idiots running them now may continue to do so. But then again, I try not to be so cynical all the time. Perhaps if enough people are saying, "Dude, it's not on to do that any more," some of this may go away.

On "smart spamming"

Smart comment and trackback spammers create "white lists" of sites they'll never touch. Blog spam someone like Google's Matt Cutts, and that's got to be the kiss of death when he fires up a few tools and wipes you off the Google map. Others will be smart and hit only abandoned blogs -- there's a few million out there, and if they're going to leave these tools wide-open, then why not make use of them.

Essentially Danny thinks that a) a consensus might be reached, and b) that it might have an impact. And he's managed to get that message across whilst walking a tightrope over broken glass in his post.

Uncool?
I'll come out and say it. It's NOT uncool, it's not even unethical. It's simple a shitty thing to do to another persons website.

Yeah yeah, save it. I know all the arguments:

  • Fuck 'em, they left the door open..
  • Im giving them free content
  • It's only bloggers...

There are at least a dozen more.

The thing is, there is only one argument that wins any respect with me:

  • I know it's a shitty thing to do, but im going to do it anyway

There just isn't any justification for vandalism - there are reasons sure, but justification? On yer bike, that's bollocks and you know it. It doesn't matter how you dress it up to appease your own concience, it's shitty.

Having said that, I know why people do it. Hell, I've done it myself.. It's usually one of several reasons:

  • I've never run a blog, and have no idea of what anger, pain and frustration my actions cause others
  • I've a reasonably good idea, but shit dude, i work in the casino biz! How the hell can i compete there without the same weapons as my competitors?

Both of which I understand.

Can we agree, reach a consensus
Of course we can't. Don't be naive Danny, the world just doesn't work that way. There is far too much money in blog spamming and whilst there is that much money on the table, morals and ethics are things that can easily be put to one side, or we can just lie to ourselves about it to make us feel better.

Theres as much hope of reaching a consensus within the SEM industry, and it having an effect, as there is of me winning the next miss USA contest.

Shame, but that's just the way it is. We can agree it's bad, maybe, but agree, act, and have an effect? Pull the other one...

Comments

Not a Fucking chance in Hell

really, honestly and truthfully... while search engines count backlinks from blogs, you have no chance..

But, there is a fix ... and maybe it will upset the bloggers even more.. remove blogs from the natural serps and push them to a Blogsearch only, and discount their links from natural serps. .. It's just round the corner imo

IF there is one thing I have learnt as an seo, is everything as a double edge to it... id you want to stop comment spam noindex,nofollow works well, if the bots can't find you they can't sign you.

DaveN

Hmmm

But, there is a fix ... and maybe it will upset the bloggers even more.. remove blogs from the natural serps and push them to a Blogsearch only, and discount their links from natural serps. ..

As long as all non-blog-sites providing feeds can opt out by removing their blogsearch listings, as long as all the folks publishing great content but unfortunately using blog software as CMS can opt out ... it's a good fix. I'd go for blog err... block rankings and simply devalue all links in comment sections.

Just For Clarification

Quote:
I'll come out and say it. It's NOT uncool, it's not even unethical. It's simple a shitty thing to do to another persons website.

No comment on the unethical bit, since I don't want this to turn into one of those threads, but it looks like you're saying that it's not uncool to do a shitty thing to another person's site. If it's shitty, isn't it uncool, or am I too old to understand cool at this point?

From a Non-Spammer

I'd have to relate this to other industries where it's possible to take advantage of the system for money. The solution isn't to ask people nicely to be more ethical, it's to make ethics and profits tied together so that ethical behavior is rewarded and unethical behavior is punished.

I'm not sure that blog-spamming is unethical, but you hit it Nick, it's definitely a shitty thing to do. But I don't really like Dave's idea (no offense, mate) because blogs are a huge part of the critical temporal link algos that have getting search engine content to be more updated. If you take them away from links, the static sites are left to provide them and honestly, they're way too behind the times to provide good link structures in a timely manner.

The onus here is really on blog owners, blog software makers and search engines. Find a solution! Whether that's nofollow (which kinda sucks) or whether it's scrambled word images or a registration requirement, whatever...

When the bank leaves the door to the vault open and the alarm off, it's really not fair to blame only the drunk frat guys who walked in and took off with a few hundred grand. Sure, it's shitty to steal money from a bank, but it's just plain STUPID to leave the vault open and the alarms off. Credit where credit's due.

Hmmm...

i'm not sure, but i think you could take her Nick...

oh, and back to the topic at hand, i agree with rand. There's no way people will stop if you just ask them nicely, they won't even stop if you sit them down and explain why it's wrong. As long as there's something to be gained from comment spam, people will do it. Having said that, even if someone did come up with a workable solution to stop it (like a new blog site) if bloggers had to actively do something (i.e. install something or move their blog, etc) it'd take a bloody long time for everyone to get onboard. So if you're a blog spammer, and there's got to be a few reading, i wouldn't worry for the time being.

From a Non-Spammer

Mr Nick, can we have one of those cartoon monkeys looking upwards, like at Puds place?

You need

the secret Search Engine Watch to Threadwatch decoder ring to understand...

"If it's shitty, isn't it uncool, or am I too old to understand cool at this point?"

Whereas "uncool" = "shitty" watered down for our family-friendly, potentially sensitive audience.

IE -- yes, I think it's shitty.

Removing blogs isn't the solution, either, as this isn't just a blog thing. That doesn't solve the problem of the widow of Mike's friend getting viagra links or whatever on her dead husband's memorial site. And things like that make me think:

"There is far too much money in blog spamming and whilst there is that much money on the table, morals and ethics are things that can easily be put to one side"

No, there are some things that can't be easily put to one side. Hey, I hear there's money in child porn. Everyone ready to step up, or do I hit a line with a lot of people who feel like that's money they'll leave to others? I mean, c'mon, if you don't help promote the child porn sites, someone else is just gonna do it. I know it's shitty, but I'm gonna do it anyway!

I really, really can't stress enough that I don't think it's going to make blog spam go away. That's going to be more a vendor problem. But this is a contribution we could perhaps make from our side, a tiny tip.

Nor do I think every single SEM is going to say, "Yeah, that's bad, don't do it." But on many other issues with SEO, we cut all types of slack because there are good reasons to debate that things aren't so black and white.

The only black and white issue in this case seems to be that it may work for some, so others feel they need to do the same. And maybe, just maybe if some leaders in the industry of all hats say it's shitty/uncool/bad/don't do it and I don't do it -- perhaps that might help a bit. At the very least, it might make all those who want to chalk all of SEO as one big cesspool of slime to realize it's perhaps not quite that case.

Anyway, just my semi-optimistic thought I'd been pondering, and wanted to see the discussion. If I get to see Nick when for Miss USA, well, is that hell freezing over, or did it just get really cold outside?

Sure but..

Quote:
No, there are some things that can't be easily put to one side. Hey, I hear there's money in child porn.

... child porn is not just "shitty", "uncool", or "unethical"; it's illegal. That's the line for many.

The only thing bugs me about

The only thing bugs me about this topic and makes me want to comment is the fact that it would appear there are only two players in this game. The blog operator and the blog spammer. The fact is there are three and the third player is really the only that matters. The search engine.

As long as the search engine makes it work it is going to make someone money and as long as it makes someone money and it is not illegal, someone is going to do it legally. So, who's fault is it? Who's responsiblity is it to deal with it? The one making the most money maybe????

While it may be shitty for a casino promoter to do it, is it not just as shitty for a search engine to reward it and yet act as if they are a victim and powerless to do anything about it?

I applaud Danny and Nick for wanting to address this issue. I too have a vested interest in seeing a better web for all of us and in that capacity see myself as a kindred spirit, BUT, think of this. What do you think is the single most common denominator in all those blog linked pages? Adsense maybe? On the surface it may appear that the casino promoter is making all the money but my guess would be that it is pennies to dollars to what Adsense is generating and as long as the advertiser keeps paying, who is really going to want to stop it? Only the blog operator is losing here but that does not place the total resonsiblity on to the blogpopper. Follow the money trail before deciding who deserves the tar and feathers first is all I'm suggesting.

it looks like you're saying

Quote:
it looks like you're saying that it's not uncool to do a shitty thing to another person's site

Danny kinda cleared up for me on that, but just to clarify: I meant that those are not fitting labels (imo of course) for this. Whether it's unethical, or uncool is not the point, the fact that it's a nasty thing to do to another publisher is.

>Adsense

Yep, that's the point I missed in it's entirety bob. I've argued that point before, becuase it's a good and valid one, but in my haste to get this out there, i missed it completely.

I still think it's down ot the vendors - i've been arguing that point for some time now, and made what i feel is a valid case for it with The Solution to Blog Spamming back in Dec last year.

But you're right aswell, if Google took some responsibility for thier ad program, many problems would be solved (at least to a large extent) almost overnight.

No Blogs in SERPS? yah right

But, there is a fix ... and maybe it will upset the bloggers even more.. remove blogs from the natural serps and push them to a Blogsearch only, and discount their links from natural serps. .. It's just round the corner imo

I gotta call bullshit on this: wouldn't work, and no chance of it happening.

Damn!

The whole time writing my last post i knew i'd missed a point i wanted to comment on... thanks Andy!

Yeah, ditto on bollocks.

If it weren't for "blogs", or sites that would definately be scooped up in any such segregation i'd have missed out on shit loads of stuff recently.

Nobody wants to learn about mary's cat, except maybe mary's friends and family, but guess what? Mary's cat don't rank for much, so it's doing no harm to anybody - but sites like engadget, joel on software, sew blog, and a shed load of other sites all produce good timely content and resources - the web would be a much less interesting place without them, and the serps would be a pile of shit.

oh, hang on....?

Dave said: But, there is a

Dave said:

Quote:
But, there is a fix ... and maybe it will upset the bloggers even more.. remove blogs from the natural serps and push them to a Blogsearch only, and discount their links from natural serps. ..

and Randfish said:

Quote:
blogs are a huge part of the critical temporal link algos that have getting search engine content to be more updated

and Bob said:

Quote:
While it may be shitty for a casino promoter to do it, is it not just as shitty for a search engine to reward it and yet act as if they are a victim and powerless to do anything about it?

And those are the key points for me. Not individually but collectively.

I disagree with Dave's point of killing "User contributable content management systems" (cos it aint just blogs that provide links) as there is some bloody great content there and Randfish summed it up. The engines need the data they provide and the users require the quality of content.

Bob summed up the major dichotomy involved in the business of search Search engines are the kings of click pimping, and they love pimping those clicks to much they'll let others take their no money down, click pimping franchcises!

Wall Street doesn't seem to mind!

Now saying all that I believe I do have an answer. It aint pretty, it aint that clever but I also aint seen it anywhere else and in our tests it works, whilst still allowing the value from the legitimate links within UCCMS to aid link based algos and enabling the quality of legitimate UCCMS content for the people who pop along to read it.

What it won't do is kill it overnight, as link spammers (like Dave, I and others) won't realise those links dont give value straight away but in very short order we'll realise it. Gossip will happen and soon UCCMSs will be clean again.

Importantly it hits a few points.
It allows Search engines to continue to be uber click pimps.
It doesn't mean UCCMSs have to be upgraded.
It allows link based algos to continue to get the data to provide quality
It means that great content within UCCMSs is included in the normal SERPs
It takes only 1 search engine to deploy it to be seen in leading the way and UCCMs can be free again!

Danny and Nick, even though

Danny and Nick, even though I am understand your mission I think you are in fact promoting blog spamming more than the oposite. The more everyone gets reminded of the fact that it works (no matter how shitty it might be) the more people will build one on their own. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised to see blog-spamming viruses or worms - signing off from millions of computers. You inspire script-kiddies to go ahead and make a bot. The fact is, that most computer-savy 15 year olds can make one and the more you talk about them the more will come. Do you think a 15 year old code-freak cares if you, old man, think they are un-cool? :)

Regarding your kid-porn examples, I think you forget a few important points - as others have poiinted out it illegal - blog spamming is (most likely) not. Also, most of us really don't like people that molest children so from a pure personal view we would never touch it - rather kick the bastards involved.

So how shitty is blog spamming really? Compared to what? Other marketing and PR stunts?

- McDonnals spray painted the streets of Copenhagen last year with slogans in an attempt to gain some street creds. They got a fine and paid it.

- Look at US presidential campaigns - is ANY part of that even close to being "ethical" - or just not shitty?

- And not to forget, political spindoctores in general - is any of what they do not shitty?

Is blog spamming really the worst evil we can find in modern marketing and PR? Should this really be on the top of the agenda of the evils to fight? Sorry, but I think there are more important battles to fight :)

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