Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bloggers, Google and Journalism

Just what the heck is "comment spam" and how did it get so many prominent bloggers up in arms? Basically, spammers have been using blogs to help boost their standings in Google searches by posting massive numbers of comments that include links to their pornography sites, scams and get-rich-quick sites. If your site is linked by a top-ranked site or blog, then Google will often raise your site's ranking -- at least that's the thinking of spammers.In fall of 2003, spammers flooded blog comments, using automated schemes to infiltrate comments on high-ranked blogs such as Dan Gillmor's eJournal, David Weinberger's Joho the Blog and Rafat Ali's PaidContent.org, among others. What followed were a series of measures, counter-measures, tactical warfare and the usual gnashing of rhetorical teeth in the blogosphere. All three of these bloggers had to turn off comments for a period of time and are only tentatively trying out new solutions to keep the comments alive.
Now, Google's Blogger software puts links in comments through a redirected URL, taking away any PageRank boost. And Six Apart's latest TypePad service and Movable Type software include multiple ways to stem comment spam, including Jay Allen's MT-Blacklist and the TypeKey registration system.For mainstream news outlets just getting into the blogging game, this battle is instructive. While most big-media blogs contain no comments and only run a select list of reader e-mails, others might want to retain the interactivity of comments and the real-time feedback that flows from them. PaidContent's Ali considers the comments part of his site's "ecosystem," and wants people to be able to comment on his more opinionated blog posts.

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