Cleaning Blogspot Spam: Is Google Responding to Public Pressure?

Filed as Editorial, Features, News on April 1, 2008 8:29 am

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In Google! Clean Up Blogger! Now!, I wrote about how a simple search for a news story turned into a massive multi-page hunt through Google search results of Blogger Blogspot spam blogs, finally finding a possible legitimate blog answer on something like page five but having to go through even more pages to find a second and third possible answer to my search question. I plowed through page after page of spam blogs and splogs, much containing copyright violating content and spinning spammers, although most of it was totally unintelligible collections of keywords.

In the article, I wrote an open letter to Google asking them to clean up Blogspot by removing the tons of spam blogs that litter its surface and abuse our content, as well as help us help them by making the process easier:

There has to be a nice way of doing this. Sure, there is always room for abuse, but let us help you. The good white hat wearing web users represent the majority and we are tired of this. We want Google cleaned up. We think starting with cleaning up Blogspot/Blogger is a good place to begin.

We, the bloggers of the world, really like you Google. We put your ads, search, maps, news, and gadgets on our blogs. We write our post content to meet your needs so you will like us. We design our web designs not just with web standards but Google standards in mind. Our lust for all things Google puts billions in your pockets. We live and breath through Google, so let us help you help us.

I’m not the only one to complain. In fact, bloggers around the world have been complaining for years about the vast quantity of splogs on Blogspot.

Technorati Authority Rank shows 2 different rankings for Lorelle on WordPressToday, while checking out the Technorati tags for WordCamp Dallas, I noticed that my blog, , had two sets of Authority Rank references. One was a “score” of 26 and the other was 1,846. It was for the same article. Suspicious, I thought I’d check this out.

It seems that my has its own Technorati ranking, which is odd, however, I uncovered dozens of Blogspot blogs scraping or abusing my blog’s content.

Still disgusted with Google’s lack of response to overwhelming pressure to clean up Blogspot, I opened those links in tabs to collect information on them for a big report I’m filing with Google to get action on the hundreds of scraping and plagiarism Blogspot blogs abusing my content – and found every Blogspot blog reporting that it had been shut down!

Blogspot Blogger blog removed notification

Is Google Cleaning Up Blogspot?

I kept going through the list and sure enough, for several pages of Technorati’s Authority Ranking results of spam blogs, while they show up on Technorati, all of these sites were shut down on Blogspot. Is Google really cleaning up Blogspot?

Matt Mullenweg has been up front about Automattic’s policy of keeping splog free, recently reporting that they’d cleared out more than 800,000 spam blogs. As more and more Blogger and Blogspot bloggers are moving to WordPress and WordPress.com, maybe Google is feeling the heat a little.

The only person I’ve found to notice that Blogspot is being cleaned up is Mero Guff, who cites the Blogger Terms of Service which states what types of blogs are allowed and which will be deleted, but that’s been there for a long time and still they allow splogs and scrapers to thrive.

I haven’t found any official news reports that Google is indeed working overtime to clean up Blogspot. I think they need to publicly come clean with an announcement if they are indeed cleaning up Blogspot. The less splogs in the world, the better that world is for everyone, including bloggers. It would be a great ice pack on the black eye Blogspot splogs have given Google.

Will Technorati Clean Up Their Act?

As for and their splog filled Authority Rankings and tags, the content from these splogs continues to sit on their pages for all to see, even though the links lead no where. I can only estimate, but probably 25% of those 1800 blog posts which lend weight to my blog’s ranking are splogs, skew the statistics.

I removed Technorati tag feeds from my feed reader a while ago as I was so sick and tired of plowing through screen after screen of spam blogs, porn, casino, mortgage, and other crap in the WordPress, bloging tips, and other topical tags I would love to follow. These are so overstuffed with useless and time wasting garbage, I can’t be bothered.

Examples of splogs in Technorati’s feed for Blogging Tips tag

As an experiment, I looked again while working on this article. It appears that some of the splog sites have been cleaned out so there are a few less than before, however, the noise-to-quality content ratio is still way too high.

Technorati is not alone. BlogDigger, Blog Pulse, Digg, and a lot of tag, social bookmarking and site submission services are being bombarded with splogs and scraper blogs, so monitoring all of these with the most popular tags like WordPress, blogging tips, and blog news, makes it difficult as there is so much junk to process in order to find the gems worth blogging about.

We really need to find a tool that will help clean up all of these services universally. An Akismet for social networking sites. A community based tool that helps all these services block out the thorns in our virtual sides so we can get the information we need and want without exposure to the time wasters.

And if Google is cleaning up Blogspot, good on them! Technorati, it’s your turn. As for the rest of you social bookmarking, tagging, and digging sites – get out your brooms because the pressure to clean up your act will be on you next.

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  1. By Anne Helmond posted on April 1, 2008 at 9:46 am
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    These preliminary findings are absolutely great news! What I miss in Technorati is a button that says “report as spam.” I can imagine a hundred different people report a blog as spam it would move into Technorati’s “to sort” list.

    Reply

  2. By Darnell Clayton posted on April 1, 2008 at 10:13 am
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    Hey Lorelle,

    I have been finding a lot of sploggers moving over to WordPress.org (and hosting it on their own or another companies servers) in order to avoid being penalized on both Blogger and WordPress.

    And no, this is not an April Fool’s comment. ;-)

    Reply

  3. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on April 1, 2008 at 10:27 am
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    @Darnell Clayton:

    There is nothing WordPress can do about those who use their free, self-hosted WordPress blogging tool. It is not on a WordPress server, like WordPress.com. Sploggers are not moving – they have always been using WordPress. Not much we within the WordPress Community or Automattic can do to stop them directly. But there is a lot that bloggers can do to stop sploggers no matter where they are hosted or what blogging program they are using.

    To help you understand the difference, and what can and cannot be directly done by WordPress, I wrote Content Theft and WordPress. If you find a splog on WordPress.com, they respond immediately to remove it.

    Reply

  4. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on April 1, 2008 at 10:28 am
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    @Anne Helmond:

    Excellent idea! I vote for that button! WordPress.com has it. Blogger/Blogspot used to, until many figured out how to remove the blue bar with the reporting links.

    Reply

  5. By Jonathan Bailey posted on April 1, 2008 at 9:54 pm
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    To toss in my two cents (which is about all I have left after paying gas between here and Dallas) I’d say that BlogSpot has done this before. Take a look at Is Blogger on the Offensive Against Spam on my site from mid-2007.

    It seems that every time there is a little pressure on the issue Blogger cleans up their act a bit and then lets things slide as things start to clear up a bit. That’s why it never winds up getting ahead, the pressure doesn’t keep up.

    The trick is going to be making them maintain the effort even after the scrutiny is off of them.

    I hope this time they actually do that though you’ll have to forgive my skepticism. I’ve been burned by them on this front before…

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  6. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on April 1, 2008 at 11:15 pm
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    I’m as skeptical as you, which is why I wrote this. The more public pressure that can be brought, the better. The same with Technorati and other social networking sites that have been hammered by splogs. There is no reason why we should be looking at splog links on Technorati that link to dead end sites. I hope they update their indexes soon.

    Reply

  7. By Tarry Jhonson posted on April 1, 2008 at 11:56 pm
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    Wow Fantastic idea! I will vote for that wordPress.com has it. Blogger used to.

    Reply

  8. By Amanda Fazani posted on April 4, 2008 at 7:37 am
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    Yes it does seem that Blogger is having a clear out of spam blogs. This has been happening for about a month now and though some legitimate bloggers have been caught in the firing line, for the most part it seems this has done much good for those os us who continue to use this free system.

    While many Blogger users prefer to hide the nav-bar, it is still possible. I admit that Blogger does seem to make it easier than other systems for spammers to create and use a blog, though I must say that the problem is spam as a whole and is not limited to Blogger alone.

    My main wish is that Google will properly crack down on spam blogs hosted on their system. I hate to know that the system I use and love has attracted such a bad reputation for this abuse through the blogosphere in general :(

    Reply

  9. By Joann posted on April 7, 2008 at 3:30 am
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    Thanks for the compliments and for the link. Great article!

    Reply

  10. By secretdubai posted on April 7, 2008 at 8:08 am
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    “some legitimate bloggers have been caught in the firing line”

    Just how in the name of anything does my five+ year old, Bloggy award winning blog, listed by Blogger as a “blog of note”, end up in this firing line? I even make a continued effort to instantly delete obvious spam link comments.

    I agree with you that spam blogs need to go, but that is some outstandingly bad algorithm Blogger is using.

    Reply

  11. By Arun Kamath posted on April 9, 2008 at 9:52 am
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    As long as they link you as the source I don’t think it should be a problem. Spammers any ways don’t get any traffic and so your content is as good as unique.

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  12. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on April 9, 2008 at 10:30 pm
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    @Arun Kamath:

    Not. As long as they link to me, the source, I have a spammer’s incoming trackback or link to my blog. Google’s PageRank now includes TrustRank, which penalizes such links. My content is not as good as unique, It is copied. But that’s not the point of the article.

    Hopefully, Google and Technorati will start cleaning up their mess of splogs thoroughly so we no longer have to deal with these nasties in the future.

    Reply

  13. By Mcneri posted on April 21, 2008 at 11:08 am
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    I still get a good number of spam comments on my wordpress.com blog. Does that mean wordpress.com is losing the battle? I have recently posted an article about robots crawling and ‘nuking’ splogs. that would work if programmers like you will write the programs. End users like many bloggers can only sit like lame ducks, at the mercy of the professional sploggers!

    Reply

  14. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on April 21, 2008 at 8:09 pm
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    @Mcneri:

    WordPress.com is actually winning the battle, and it appears you are using blogspot by your comment information.

    Bloggers are not at the mercy of sploggers. There are many ways of taking preventable action and responding to content scrapers and abusers of copyrights. WordPress.com cleaned out over 80,000 blogs last month and Akismet is working overtime to clean out comment spam. Sure, comment spam gets through because comment spammers are working overtime to find ways to get through, but mark them as comment spam (using the mass edit mode or list mode to get a lot of them at one time) and help Akismet learn to recognize their new methods. We work together as a team to prevent comment spam this way.

    There are new techniques coming out all the time to help put an end to the profitability of sploggers and spammers. I’m so glad that WordPress and WordPress.com are among those fighting back, aren’t you?

    Reply

  15. By Ian Lamont posted on April 25, 2008 at 12:40 pm
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    Great post. I’ve been a Blogger blogger for years, and one of my blogs is in the “firing line,” as someone eloquently put it, since 2006. Google has allocated some resources to address bugs and other irritants, but aren’t moving nearly fast enough. I have some more commentary concerning these and other issues (including the AdSense conflict) here:

    The real problem with Google’s Blogger service: Neglect

    Reply

  16. By Kevin Combs posted on July 3, 2008 at 8:57 am
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    I don’t get why Google lets their ads get devalued generally by tolerating the bad behavior. If all the adsense ‘content’ gets delivered by crappy publishers…. who’s going to actually click?

    I also don’t get why they don’t just add some function to the flag button.

    Lorelle, I think your results (the take downs) might have something to do with you having a high profile. Like a lot of companies, the accountability only happens as reputation management. You have an audience… you griped and they fixed YOUR problem. Someone with lesser visibility gets ignored. I took all the same steps as you and the blogspot junk is still there four months later.

    Reply

  17. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on July 4, 2008 at 4:30 pm
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    @ Kevin Combs:

    My results? What does my “high profile” have to do with a simple search issue? Nothing I said influences Google in anyway, shape, or form. I report problems through the normal pathways. No different than you. If the Blogspot junk is still there, I’m sorry. If we all work together to make a lot of noise, maybe something will happen, but it’s not because of me. Google doesn’t know I exist. :D

    Reply

  18. By lvl80 account posted on December 7, 2008 at 3:05 am
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    wanna buy wow mage? or want get a lvl 80 account? there is lots of wow accounts with lvl 80 rogue go http://www.4saccount.com get it

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  19. By Brandon posted on December 20, 2008 at 8:40 pm
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    My Google alerts is nothing but blogspot spam. I’ve got an alert for the name of our company and these sploggers are using are company name so they can get traffic via Google alerts. Google has let it’s services be bombarded with spam. Google must be hurting for cash because they don’t seem to fix it. The other epidemic is Diet ads on Adsense. These nut hooks are using other companies as the display url and are deceiving users. This is totally out of control.

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  20. By robin posted on July 5, 2010 at 6:30 pm
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    hey, how do those people know my e-mail and that I’ve msn?

    Reply

  21. By David H. posted on December 1, 2010 at 5:43 pm
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    I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to try to sort through tons of spam. Also, I have seen my website plagiarized on other websites now (I suppose because my ranking is in the top four in all search engines for certain keyword searches). It’s over two years since you posted this – still not much progress.

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