Saturday, August 25, 2007

Get To The Root Of The Problem - Blame The Spammers

For some time recently, we have been seeing two basic complaints a lot, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.
I tried to post on my blog, and it says my blog is under review for possible violations, and cannot be modified. I have read the terms of service, and there is nothing in my blog that even remotely violates the terms of service.
and
It's getting so that I'm embarrassed to be asking my friends to read my blog because there's so much porn everywhere. I'm even thinking of changing blog hosts because of it.


Both of these complaints have a single cause. Spammers. 90% of the porn in Blog*Spot is on splogs, spam blogs that are obvious clones of each other. I went "Next Blog" surfing for a short hour this morning, and found one set of splogs ("splog farm") with over 2 dozen members, and other splogs too. 2 dozen of the same dreck, that I found in a short hour, randomly. And it's not real porn either, it's garbage. Garbage connected to hacking attempts, hacking attempts that are targeting the unwary.

The splog volume is part of the problem. You have one or two blogs. Several splog farms contain hundreds of thousands of individual blogs, each. Blogger fuzzy spam detection, in an attempt to detect a significant portion of the splogs, is going to detect innocent blogs as spam.

Non Google services may even detect references to Blogger blogs, as spam, because of the spam. And some anti-spam measures inconvenience everybody - not just spammers.

Even a significant portion not detected causes more complaints from bloggers tired of seeing porn spam in "Next Blog". There will be both false negatives (splogs that are not detected), and false positives (legitimate blogs that are detected).

Many legitimate blogs, falsely detected, won't be even marginally suspicious - they will have normal content, of widely varying subject matter. To reduce the false negatives count, you'll see more false positives, and vice versa. And the criminals behind the splog farms are constantly tuning the content of their blogs, to make them look more like normal blogs (such as yours) - further increasing the false negatives count.

Blogger #1 (above) claims
there is nothing in our blog that even remotely violates the terms of service.
and demands that Blogger unblock his blog. Blogger loosens the filters, Blogger #1's blog is declared clean, and we get false negatives - spam blogs declared clean, too - and we get more complaints from Blogger #2.

Blogger #2 (above) claims
I'm embarrassed to be asking my friends to read my blog because there's so much porn everywhere.
and demands that Blogger block the porn. Blogger tightens down the filters, blocks some of the porn, and we get false positives - innocent blogs (like yours) detected as spam - and we get more complaints from Blogger #1.

This is just two sides of the same problem, neither side recognising the real problem, and neither side solving the problem.

Things that might help mitigate the problem.
Stop whining and start doing something. Blogger can't do it, on their own.


If you feel the need to discuss the problem online, do so, and list the problems so they can be examined and / or dealt with. You may read more about the problem, in The Attack Of The Clones. You can read about recent changes in the "Next Blog" link, in It's Here - The New "Next Blog" Link.


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37 comments:

bytehead said...

I've tried to do this before, but the issue of missing navbar was always a problem. But this solves that. And with the next bookmarklet, you don't even have to move your mouse to go to the next one if you aren't looking at a splog.

I'm probably being a bit of a dick, but I'm also flagging legit blogs if they have their navbar turned off. You don't want it fine, go FTP! :-p

bytehead said...

I also forgot to mention, you really need to be running NoScript. I feel bad enough allowing blogspot.com (but only temporarily) let alone all the other javascript stuff some of these sites try to load.

Chuck said...

If you're running Firefox with NoScript, you need to configure NoScript to allow the expression behind the "Flag Blog" shortcut.
javascript:toggleFlag();

Better to allow the expression, for all blogs, then to open NoScript for all "*.blogspot.com".

The "Next Blog" shortcut isn't script, just a URL, so it's not affected by NoScript.

If you put the "Flag Blog" and "Next Blog" shortcuts next to each other, try not to flag any innocent blogs when you hit "Next Blogs".

The Revolt and Revolting said...

Blogger is reviewing blogs? I can't publish to mine either. I'll have to review the 'agreement to service,' I guess.

Chuck said...

The rumour is that Blogger is running bots that review blogs. Of course, automation has its limits. Hence the false positives and fase negatives.

Donny Viszneki said...

chuck: Excellent article. It's really important that people understand how these types of problems interrelate with one another. Good form.

bytehead: You're not just being a dick, you are almost definitely violating Blogger Terms of Service.

Skanky Jane said...

I'm with Donny on two points:
1. Excellent article (with characteristic practical advice) and
2. Regarding bytehead



I guess NoScript means no script yeah? So no fancy do-dahs on your blog then? (Such as label-clouds, peekaboo posts etc?)

Thanks Chuck.
SJ xx

Chuck said...

Skanks,

NoScript blocks malicious code from other web sites from running on your computer. It doesn't prevent you from putting code (do-dahs) on your web site.

And not all do-dahs are blocked by NoScript anyway.

NoScript is an extremely popular security device for Firefox, and there are possibly 3 reasons why it's so popular, and all work together.
1) It doesn't generate a lot of false positives. A lot of do-dahs aren't blocked by it, because it's very selective.
2) It's well maintained (frequently updated).
3) It's free (dohh).

All that said, you should always test your blog, each time you add fancy do-dahs. And test from multiple browsers and operating systems.

Since you write for your readers, you want to make sure that your readers have the best chance of enjoying what you write. Including the do-dahs.

A.M. said...

If four of my blogs are spammed within minutes of each other, and my blogs are of a political nature, isn't it likely it was done by a person from the "other side"?

I would gladly have less blogs but having only two columns, and no control over the size of text in the margin column without it affecting the text in the main article is very limiting.

Because of this, I went with more blogs so each blog could focus on a certain aspect of the recently run presidential race.

I regularly post original content to each blog. I wish there was a paid mode for google blogger so I could be treated like an actual human being rather than an anonymous opportunist looking for a freebie.

Chuck said...

A.M.,

Please define what you mean by "your blogs are spammed". Are people posting spammy comments to the blogs? Or are mysterious spammy posts appearing on them?

Neither of those scenarios should have anything to do with peoples blogs being falsely considered to be spam. That's the subject of this post.

If unknown parties are publishing spammy comments, or spammy posts, on your blogs, this may be a change that you have to make to your blogs. I'll advise you, but you need to provide specifics.

Of course, you might be better off posting in GBH: Something Is Broken. If you have done that already, and I missed the post, my apologies. The online forums are much easier to use, then Blogger Blog Commenting, for interactive problem solving.

miguel said...

thank you for the advice and my apology for yelling. its just so frustrating to see these abuses. We hope you could help remove such reported blogs for abuses..

Thank you

Amelia said...

Nice article. Can't really understand all because my english is bad. but nice.

What make blog considered as spam? Links? pop up? my blog has pop up and I don't know where it come from. Also have many links to other websites/blog. Yeah I like to exchange links and review other websites. IS that why my blog deleted by google because of spam? I got email from google that my blog is spam.

And what do you means by "As I do this, your blog remains offline"? Sorry, my vocabulary is bad, my grammar is worse

Chuck said...

Amelia,

Thanks for your comments, and your patience. Right now, the problem may not be your fault, although the solution is still your responsibility. Spammers produce splogs, and they scrape the contents of our blogs to publish in their splogs.

Amelia said...

Hmm..I see... Okay, thx for the reply. hope google will give me back my blog soon...

Amelia said...

hi again.. now I have another question. Other's tOp contributor, dark ufo, reply this to my thread : "Your blog has been deemed by Google to violate their Terms of Service and will not be restored". Is that mean He/she has already reviewed my blog again? Someone marked it with "best answer".. but for me, it doesn't explain anything that will improved blogger's user. And another question...

1. I like to give comments on other blogs/website using "name/url" as identity. Does that make my blog become spam? If yes. why google has that "name/url" facility ?

2. I like to exchange links and put them all on sidebar. Do that also make my blog become spam?

3. My blog is about "money" and I put all payments I've got on sidebar according to dates I got them. Of course I put link to the sites that pay me. so I have many links to those sites. Is that spam? If yes, how to solve it? Don't say "erase your payment and the links". I can't do that.. How about using rel='nofollow'? I heard that will be useful.. Any suggestion?

Please answer my 3 questions patiently because I haven't find any useful + detail information about my blog's problem... Thanks. Ame

Chuck said...

Ame,

Right now, I have only what I've posted. Blogger has reviewed your blog, and has provided the advice

"Spam blogs cause various problems, beyond simply wasting a few seconds of your time when you happen to come across one. They can clog up search engines, making it difficult to find real content on the subjects that interest you. They may contain material that's been scraped from other sites on the web, and may use other people's writing to make it look as though they have useful information of their own. And if an automated system is creating spam posts at an extremely high rate, it can impact the speed and quality of the service for other, legitimate users."

That is all that we can provide.

Amelia said...

-__- phew.. chuck, I've read that sentence everywhere even on Google help page (do you think I'm the one who just talk without read first?). But practically, there's so many things that more complicated (for me). That's why I'm asking those 3 things so I won't make same mistakes with my other blogs and I can tell other users to be more careful. Many users do no.1, 2, and 3, without knowing whether those things make their blog become spam.

I know you're smart and know everything about blogger and google, but I don't. I'm asking for the solution, but you give me turkey phrase... You said, get to the root and blame the spammer.. Have you ever think to "get to the root - not to become spammer"?

I'm asking because I don't understand which part of my blog is "spam". I've read all about "spam" and found difficulties to find the 'wrong' part of my blog. I'm not a bloody spammer that defend spam blog. I'm asking, which part of my blog is wrong so I won't do it again.. but it seems that you see me as an animal who just moan about non-sense, not a human..

Godlike said...

Just a question: What serious company puts its "clients" to arrange merchandise in the shop?

Well, I hate thinking that Blogger does just that. If there's spam among Blogger blogs it is their fault. Not customers (us). So of course we can do something about it:

1. Stay here and fight spam
2. Blame each other for not finding solutions
3. Move to another platform.

Mahmud said...

I am not using next blog surfing from my blog. have there chance to consider my blog as a spam blog for this reason.

Crazy Lover said...

My blog, (www.malluvdo.blogspot.com) has been disabled since today morning. I think the reason was i added the bing webmaster code in my blog header section. kindly reactive my blog and thanks a lot for your quick action in this matter

Chuck said...

Crazy,

Kindly ask a question in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, and we will do our best to get you sorted.

Brian Uhelski said...

wow. Well, I still have a blog that's been deleted and simply want my blog to be undeleted. Not too difficult.

A&R parties said...

I need to retrieve my blog and continue writing posts please help

Jozef Imrich, Esq. said...

Ouch. I have been on Blogspot since 2002 and this is a first one for me ...

I gather that going through the four steps has not solved the problem as my blog http://amediadragon.blogspot.com is still shown as deleted ...

Cheers

Jozef

Chuck said...

Jozef,

If you'll provide the URL of the discussion, where you executed step #4, I'll do what I can. Without that, you will have to be very patient.

Habib Siddiqui said...

I did not find anything that is really helpful to restore a false positive signal that the blog site was a spam.

Chuck said...

I did not find anything that is really helpful to restore a false positive signal that the blog site was a spam.

To restore a false positive signal, you absolutely must post in BHF: Something Is Broken!

JC said...

As a loyal Google / Blogger user, I find the language in this article offensive. I've never heard of any business that refers to its customers as whiners. These people have valid concerns and should be dealt with like Google actually wants their business. Calling them whiners just alienates them.

Chuck said...

I find the language in this article offensive

You're entitled to your opinion. But why do you not become offended by the spammers? So many spammers rant about the "broken" spam mitigation process, that Blogger has. Nobody rants about the broken and offensive spammers, that Blogger wants to get rid of.

tanguera said...

Hi Chuck,
My blogs disappeared without any notification whatsoever. I have no idea if I violated TOS (extremely unlikely), or was caught up in the spamming elimination net.

I totally get that the spamming problem needs to be addressed, but I cannot imagine what might have been considered spam on either of my blogs. One of them is a journal which has been inactive so it's not even generating anything! I've posted 3 times to the Something is Broken forum, but have not received any response. The process is incredibly cumbersome and frustrating for legitimate bloggers.

Additionally, the email I used to create the blogs was also deleted so I had to re-register just to be able to write the ticket!

As a side note, a new blog using my blogger blog name was recently created on Wordpress, and not by me.

Chuck said...

Tanguera,

Without a blog name, I'm not sure what I can do to help you. I'm not finding any reports in the Broken forum that looks like they might be you.

Want to give us a clue?

Hans Ganteng said...

my blog was deleted by blogger, I never spam and another TOS blogger.
I love blogger and loyal use blogger but why my blog was deleted.

I so confused because I have wtiting on my blog more than 2 year and always follow tos blogger, please help me what can I do, here myblog address vilat dot blogspot dot com, thanks

farmersdozen.com said...

My blog has disappeared. I have 3 now only 1. I "embeded" 3 youtube videos for the first time. Mom of 10, limited computer knowledge. Blog: farmers-dozen.blogspot.com
Help...

Israeli Frontline said...

This situation is so bizarre! I do not know where to begin to be able to use my blog again. I can't even figure out what this is all about. I have no idea what all this information means. It is like strange code language, which I cannot figure out. My blog is not spam. It is my personal blog on which I post daily news and so on. I have many readers who read my blog daily and I would really like to have my blog back. Please help me. Thank you very much,
Michelle Cohen from ISRAELI FRONTLINE blog.

Chuck said...

Michelle,

The whole issue of spam, and Blogger mitigation of spam, is unbelievably complex. Financial, Historical, Personality, Technical - the issue of spam spans all of those topics and more. So yes, if you find my articles labyrinthine, you are probably correct. That does not make the content incorrect or misleading, though, it simply reflects the indefinably complex nature of the issues involved.

This one article, for instance, is me trying to advise everybody reading it to stop blaming Blogger for a problem which they simply did not cause. Blogger provides a blogging platform. Their blogging platform, along with many others Internet and world wide, has been hijacked by the illegal and selfish ambitions of the spammers who infest the Internet.

To be facetious, if this article makes you unhappy, find the nearest "Spammers Are Us" forum, and complain there. Do not annoy the people in Blogger Help Forum, unless you intend to listen, and to learn.

intimidades said...

once again thank you for your help on my blog issues ( I am Paula_sil)

I think mine starter because I used mail posting to post using my Ipad

Rgds

sHeNgKaY said...

thanks nitecruzr..
..this is helpful..