MyBlogLog is growing quickly to say the least. It is a great tool to connect with your readers, find new website and also drive traffic to your website. But how long do they have until the spam really starts to hit? How long before it’s really looked at as a way to drive traffic and the bots start to take over? We saw it happen with Myspace. It’s happening with Facebook and it will happen to MyBlogLog.
So far with MyBlogLog there has been an almost blind-trust. Heck – I have a bunch of my own personal information listed on my profile page. I see some people with everything but their social security number there. I think that is due to the reason that it seemed so nichey and small. It’s growing – quickly:
Alexa data should always be taken with a grain of salt but they are close to cracking the Top 1000 mark in a short amount of time. A lot of people choose to show their personal information to everyone (not just their contacts) combine that with a footprint of a) your contacts b) what other sites you like (based on the communities you have joined) and that equals a spammer’s nirvana.
There are all different types of spam problems they could be looking at. Let’s look at a couple:
Links: Each member has a profile page. Each website has a community page. When you join MyBlogLog, one of the co-founder’s Eric Marcoullier is automatically added as a Contact. Eric has become the face for MyBlogLog to most, essentially their Tom Andersen. As a result Eric’s member page is very popular and has lots of links pointing at it as a result (Yahoo is showing over 12,000). Want to get a new website crawled quickly or some cheap throw-away links? Drop a comment with your link on a high-profile page like Eric’s.
I haven’t seen strong evidence of Google or Yahoo! counting these links but they are crawling the comment pages and indexing them. Take a look at Eric’s first comment page with a PageRank of 3 (grain of salt again but this is for demonstration purposes) or the Google cache of DJ Tiesto’s.
Manual Comment Spam: Here’s an example of manual spam:
It’s pretty simple – you visit someone’s member profile or community profile and then leave a message with your links to your websites. I checked out this guy’s profile and he is a real person – he actually added me as a contact a couple of minutes after I viewed his profile.
Robot Comment Spam - See above but replace person with a robot.
One important point to note is that all links on MyBlogLog don’t have the “nofollow” atribute.
The MyBlogLog staff has acknowledged the incoming spam but they seemed more focused on the internal promotion. People joining thousands of communities and adding even more contacts.
They also implemented a ‘Report Spam’ feature for comments. This is a good step but the feature is a bit cumbersome and doesn’t seem like it will scale. From the user’s perspective – right now it’s simple, there are a few of these and you hit the link which opens your email client and you then have to send. How are people going to feel when they have to do that 100 times per day? Same thing for MyBlogLog – costs are going to rise.
Suggestions – lay out clear guidelines for people. I don’t see anything about Spam in your Help section. Lay it on the table so people know your exact stance (when you have determined one). For example – how many URLs are allowed in a public comment (how many linking directly to a site outside of MyBlogLog vs. inside). That way people will know exactly where the line is. This won’t help with spammers but it will help with unintentional spamming and people reporting it as such.
Implement Akismet or a similar solution. It’s not going to catch everything but it’s going to cut down on a lot (like my example up top). Give people the option to Moderate Their Comments and choose to approve. Let someone have the choice. You have to remember that for a corporate blog it’s very important that someone doesn’t log onto their community and see curses/Viagr@/etc. Actually – noone wants to see those Viagr@ comments…
In my opinion, MySpace waited too long and spam became such a huge problem (still is). MyBlogLog is an amazing service that I really enjoy and get tremendous benefits from (I am also a Pro subscriber for the stats but that is a whole different post) and I would hate to see it get overrun with spam.