Spam Blogs and Financial Incentive

Technorati’s Niall Kennedy posts about the recent spate of spam blogs coming out of Google’s Blogger service and describes Google’s Blogger and Adsense service as parts of a spam suite. BoingBoing first posted Niall’s theory that CAPTCHA’s are no longer a valid block and are circumvented by spammers who redirect the test to eager seekers of free porn. What’s more troubling is that there is no immediate financial incentive for Google to thwart the creation of spam blogs. For every successful spam blog created, the revenue line for Adsense goes up a notch.

Big ol’ disclosure here because I work at Yahoo which is equally concerned and vulnerable with spam. In the interest of generating public debate, I want to throw out this question. Not only am I interested in how spam blog creation can be stopped (more interested in how to take away the incentive to splog, not how to block them), but also interested in the problem of click fraud. The incentive to create a splog is further accelerated with the creation of specialized crawlers that would click all your ad links and generate immediate click-thru revenues along with the more insidious use of zombie networks reported today by Joel on Software.

What can we do to ensure that the tools we have available to communicate and connect are not pulled apart by greedy individuals using automated tools to gain a quick buck? I know it has something to do with authority and trust. Why do we trust our savings with First National Bank at a swank downtown address and not Ed’s Bank in the trailer on the edge of town? Just as we bank at what is most likely a marble-faced edifice in the physical world, is there anyway to add these same clues to reputation in the virtual world?

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