Microsoft Bloggers Face Search Spam Pinch

 
 
By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-12-21
 
 
 
Microsoft Corp.s growing group of 1,200 Weloggers were among those feeling the pinch from a recent rash of spam messages to blog comments.

Company officials confirmed this week that some Microsoft Developers Network bloggers had noticed a spike in spam and that the company was encouraging bloggers to turn on comment moderation while it investigates a more widespread solution.

"MSDN has seen a sudden rise in comment spam over the last two weeks," said Betsy Aoki, MSDNs community site manager. "The last time Microsoft saw a rise like this, it took steps to implement comment moderation on blogs.msdn.com."

In August, Microsoft first noticed a comment spam spike and suggested that bloggers moderate comments, either by requiring approval for someone to post or by approving each individual comment, Aoki said. Microsoft also decided to disable comments on posts that were older than 30 days as a way to reduce the places where spammers could post.

While Aoki said that the level of comment spam began to slow this week for MSDN, the earlier spike drew concern from MSDN bloggers and fit into a broader pattern of increasing comment spam in recent weeks.

On Monday, Six Apart Ltd., the maker of the popular blog tool Movable Type, released an update to patch a Movable Type bug that was allowing comment spam to slow servers even when the comments were blocked from appearing on blogs.

Both Web hosting companies and individual bloggers earlier had begun disabling comments on their Movable Type blogs in response to the spam deluge.

Officials at Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft didnt offer any details of the future approaches it is working on to combat comment spam, though multiple bloggers alluded to ongoing work.

Click here to read more about another issue facing blogs—the bandwidth consumed by syndication feeds.

Josh Ledgard, a Microsoft program manager, wrote last week on his MSDN blog that the volume of comment spam was leading him to moderate comments.

"I have no intentions of making this permanent, but recently Ive been having to delete 50 to 100 blog comment spam messages each day," Ledgard wrote. "This far outweighs the cost of un-moderating the few real comments I may get each day. This recent storm has kicked off further efforts here to improve our system and Im hoping I wont have to keep moderation on very long."

Another MSDN blogger dissected the type of spam being posted to his blogs comment sections. Blogger Robert Hensing wrote that much of the spam appeared to originate from China and to advertise Chinese Web sites, and he posted samples of the spam messages.

As with other bloggers, Hensing pointed out that the apparent goal of the spammers was to disseminate links throughout blogs in order to improve search-engine rankings.

Hensing originally moved toward approving comments before they posted, but then switched last week to blocking comments all together because he was receiving multiple illegitimate comments per hour.

"I quite simply dont have the time to try and weed out the legitimate comments from the spam on a moderated blog," he wrote. "Ill probably go back to moderated in a few weeks."

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