April 26, 2008

Close Encounter Of The Third Kind

Seal of spamOn one fine April morning, as I was preparing to write a post for my blog, I was greeted by this: "This blog has been locked due to possible Blogger Terms of Service violations. You may not publish new posts until your blog is reviewed and unlocked".
It wasn't the 1st of April, so the possibility of a joke was ruled out. So, finally in the eyes of Google I am a spammer. I felt surprised, bad and at the same time proud, that I was "awarded the status" of a spam-programmer, a splogger.

Why did such an issue arise after all. I do not indulge in any of the practices that Google pointed out as possible signatures of spammers. Lets hear from the horse's mouth.

What Are Spam Blogs?

As with many powerful tools, blogging services can be both used and abused. The ease of creating and updating webpages with Blogger has made it particularly prone to a form of behavior known as link spamming. Blogs engaged in this behavior are called spam blogs, and can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site.

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 scrape content from other sites on the web, using 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

The web crawler that Google uses to crawl and index webpages is called a googlebot. It, in some way, must have sniffed a scent (pattern/ signature/ code sequence) in some of my webpages; otherwise such a warning would not have been issued. It could have been a handiwork of some hacker or even due to malfunctioning of the robot itself. I suggested that we could improve our spam handling algorithms from the mode of operations of the tiny ovum, produced by the female species of childbearing age. I also wrote about how these crawlers are poised to (potentially) synthesize and propound smart hypotheses, using your original research and mine. But such a sloppy mistake (of branding my blog as spam) shattered my faith on these bots, which I thought were smart. Anyway, the fault of the bots was corrected after about two weeks, else I wouldn't be able to post this article.

Google does a good job by providing us with important search tools including google desktop, provide online access on google scholar, and now even providing free softwares like Norton security, spyware doctor etc. For all these, it does need to have their servers run in the pink of their health. Thus you just can not blame them if they turn paranoid and impose such a blanket ban, on situations like these. A thorough quarantine is essential to prevent spams from spreading like a wildfire. But it also needs to learn from the false positives. Google has a googol (10100 ) of responsibility on its shoulder, simply by virtue of it being the leader in the field of internet search.

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