The Blog System That’s Eating Blogs

The Blog System That's Eating BlogsMaking blogging too easy seems to be making it hard. It may be coincidence, but one example of “too easy” blogging is the spam blog, or splog – and suddenly, there’s a rash of upset bloggers who have had their blogs blacked.

The latest example, listed on “the other Inquirer” tells the sad tale of a long-term addict to public navel-gazing: “I have been blogging since April 16, 2004, a day after my youngest daughter was born. On March 8, 2006, I was surprised to find my blog locked,” he writes.

The villain – as listed – is Blogger. Blogger has several tools designed to stop your public diary from being filled up with spam. And understandably! – there’s really nothing more frustrating than posting a deeply-held opinion, and coming back a day later to find it full of dozens, even hundreds, of comments that actually aren’t comments at all. They’re simply spam: “Great blog! You might like to read about my organ enhancement products on *” and all pointing to the same crooked site.

The Blog System That's Eating BlogsAnd a spam blog is something that doesn’t actually have any real content. It’s just links to trackback pointers for everybody else. The trouble is, all the signs of a spam blog are caused by the ease with which they are built. You just have to create the blog (two clicks) and then set up a robot that scours the web for new posts, and links to the trackbacks.

So, the coincidence: just before he got black-listed, our navel gazer switched to a blog automator. The product is one of so many I can’t make myself go there. It’s called Qumana, and what it does (amongst other things) is allow you to create your blog quickly and easily, including advertising, even if you’re offline. You’ll get an idea of the scale of the problem if you look at Technorati’s tag for Qumana.

Yes, in a fit of egotism, idiocy, the authors decided to write software that creates a tag for qumana for every blog page that is created on qumana. It doesn’t matter whether the subject is carrots, cameras or carcases; the tag for Qumana will also be created. As a result, you’ll have real trouble finding what the current discussion about Qumana is about; it’s lost in the backgroud noise.

The Blog System That's Eating BlogsI’m not saying that Qumana is what caused the blog to be blacked. I am saying that if it produces a series of random, unrelated tags to a single site, it’s going to fulfil one of the prime indicators of a splog. And when random, unrelated blog entries all get tagged “Qumana” whatever their subject, you have something so similar, it’s going to be quite hard to see what a blog provider can do to filter it.

So our injured blogger has moved from Blogger to WordPress – which is something that could be said about better publications than his – and Blogger has instituted a standard “are you human?” check. But the real problem is that if you make blogging so easy that anybody can do it, anybody (or are splog creators things) will do it. And quality and quantity are not always good bedfellows.

*( for Monty Python fans, that is not a real URL! – yet)