VeriSign Tackles the Scandal of Splog

News Analysis: VeriSign's buy of the Weblogs.com ping server aims to fix the sagging springs of the blogosphere, which is getting crushed beneath blog spam.

Its not about where influential Weblogs—Robert Scoble, Dave Winer or Doc Searls—will live. Theyll live on the servers theyve called home, and Weblogs.com will keep hosting them.

Its not about the blogospheres grass roots getting little price tags hung on them, such as America Online Inc.s purchase of Weblogs Inc.

No, VeriSign Inc.s purchase of the Weblogs.com ping server from Dave Winer, one of the founders of the blogosphere itself, is about plumbing.

Its about infrastructure thats sagging.

"Theres a lot of hype regarding how much the blogosphere has grown, and it has, and a lot of it is legitimate blogs with real content. But theres a scandal under the surface," Mike Graves, chief architect of VeriSigns Naming and Directory Services, told eWEEK.com.

"Google and a lot of free services have millions of spam blogs out there that are increasingly choking up bandwidth but also making it hard to find content [users] want," Graves said.

Statistically, VeriSign and other companies its talked to are finding the problem is bigger than just the size of traffic. Some ping services would say youre looking at 20 to 30 percent pollution. Other places spike as high as 50 to 70 percent at some times.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about blog spam and one companys approach to dealing with it.

Its easy to see. Weblogs.coms front page, after the poor, creaking thing manages to load, is crammed full of junk: free info about http://student_loan, Free info about http://fight.search, FREE info at http://az21amazingdeal—it goes on and on.

"We think parts [of the blogosphere] will break because of load and growth," Graves said.

The increasingly crushing load is due both to legitimate blog traffic and to a burgeoning amount of spam blogs—aka splog.

"For a long time, ping servers could be stood up as a single box running on a fast business DSL connection," Graves wrote on VeriSigns Infrablog.

"Last Thursday weblogs.com processed just under 2 million (1.96M) pings for the day," Graves wrote. "When we started talking with Dave [Winer, owner and founder of Weblogs.com], a couple months back, the ping totals were barely half of that, and the load even then on the servers made pinging Weblogs a chancy proposition during peak posting times."

Indeed, Graves wrote, the days of running a ping server on a single box with a fast connection have passed, at least for popular ping servers, and pings are well on their way to requiring serious infrastructure.

Nobody knows that better than services that rely on the ping service, such as PubSub Concepts Inc. or Technorati Inc. As far as PubSub is concerned, the infrastructure of the blogosphere has to be supported properly to get to the next step in its evolution.

PubSub is a matching service that notifies subscribers when new content is created that matches their subscriptions. With its proprietary Matching Engine, PubSub reads millions of data sources to do so.

"This is a very positive thing," said Salim Ismail, PubSub CEO and co-founder. "Spam is now becoming a problem. … As of late, the [Weblogs.com] site hasnt been working well. What [VeriSign] will do is rebuild it."

Next Page: Creating a solid foundation for Web 2.0.