Just An Online Minute... Blog Spam
As of Tuesday morning, Technorati, a company that monitors and indexes blogs so they can be searched, says on its Web site it tracks 15.8 million blogs -- up from 15.7 million yesterday and 13-plus million several weeks ago.
At IceRocket, another company that follows blogs and makes them searchable, CEO Blake Rhodes told The Minute that the company tracks 18 million blogs, up from about 15 million four months ago.
One reason blogs are growing so rapidly is obvious: More and more consumers have decided that blogs are a good way to express themselves.
But another reason, less obvious but perhaps more damaging to efforts to organize and search blogs, is that some companies appear to be using computer programs to create so-called "spam blogs" or "splogs," for the sole purpose of posting links to their Web sites.
The problem for blog search engines is that, when people query on certain terms, the results served can end up being links to these splogs, instead of to the consumer-generated content searchers were hoping to find.
Entrepreneur Mark Cuban, an investor in IceRocket, wrote about this problem on his own blog last week. "Anything that has ever been spammed about is spammed in monstrous proportions in the blogosphere because it's so easy to do," he wrote. "So blogs are coming at us left and right. We are killing off thousands a day, but they keep on coming. Like Zombies."
Cuban cast some blame on Google, which lets people set up free blogs through its Blogger and called on the company to make it harder to splog.
Apparently in response, Google has taken some steps to make it easier for users to report spam blogs. (A Google spokesman didn't respond to The Minute's request for comment.)
But, frankly, Cuban misplaces the fault here. If the problem is that blog search engines are returning splogs in the results pages, the responsibility for fixing that lies with the search engines, not the sploggers or the blog hosts. The root of the matter appears to be that the blog search engines aren't able to suss out consumer-created blogs from computer-created ones. The solution is to create better blog search algorithms, not to ask blog hosts to police their users.