Mark Cuban—self-dubbed “blog maverick” and owner of both the Weblog search engine IceRocket and the Dallas Mavericks—has warned that those who use Googles free Blogger service under the Blogspot domain may soon be kicked out of IceRockets search engine due to the insufferable amounts of blog spam the free service produces.
“Anything that has ever been spammed about is spammed in monstrous proportions in the blogosphere because its so easy to do,” Cuban wrote in a recent blog.
“Any traditional spam keyword will get you thousands if not more than 100,000 results, and there are a ton of spam words you can think of,” he said.
The production of spam blogs as well as the onslaught of spam in the comment sections of blogs—also known as “splog”—is particularly irksome because it dilutes the usefulness of search rankings.
The problem is so acute that major Internet search engines Google Inc., Microsoft Corp.s MSN division and Yahoo Inc., along with Weblog tool vendor Six Apart Ltd., joined together earlier this year to wage battle on splog.
The group announced a tag called “nofollow” that excludes links in blog comments from search-engine crawlers.
The companies plan to support the HTML tag to keep comment-spam postings out of search engines.
What makes the problem particularly frustrating, Cuban said, is that it doesnt cost anything to set up a blog on what is probably the most common blog host, Googles Blogger.com.
“Its fast, its easy, its free, and it can be automated,” he said. “We are killing off thousands a day, but they keep on coming. Like zombies. Its straight from Night of the Living Dead.”
What IceRocket plans to do about it isnt certain yet, but the company is “exploring a variety of options,” Cuban said.
“The blog hosts can obviously help, but I think the best solution will come from the pinging process that is used to let blog search engines know a new post has been added,” he said.
“If blogging is supposed to be a personal medium, I dont know why we cant use an e-mail confirmation for blog posts. We do it for comments to keep out comment spam. Why not do it for blog posts? … Now is the time to do something before the splog overwhelms [the blogosphere] and makes it difficult to discover new and exciting blogs.”
Cubans call to arms fueled the launch of SplogReporter.com, a site created “for good-willed bloggers to report splog in an effort to help to clean up the blogosphere of splog,” according to the site.
The site allows bloggers to register their URLs, along with the URLs of their respective offending spam producers.
The sites founder hadnt returned e-mail by the time this story was posted.
But beyond the launch of SplogReporter, Cubans call to arms will likely come to naught.
“I dont follow [IceRocket] that closely. But its certainly not a household name,” said Marc Strohlein, vice president and lead analyst for Outsell. “I dont know that anything he does will have a material impact on the blogosphere.”
At this point, splog is still in its infancy, akin to the problem of spam in the early days of e-mail, Strohlein said.
Apart from setting some sort of central authority to manage it—and thereby potentially limiting the current freedom of the ability for anybody and everybody to create a blog—theres little to be done to combat the problem.
“Any time a tool like this enters the marketplace, anything that happens with e-mails and things that preceded blogs, anybody out there will try to figure out how to take advantage of the medium to make money. Its not surprising somebody would do that” with blogs, he said.