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Monthly Archives: December 2003

Trust and comment-spamming in the Blogosphere

It occurs to me that there is a large amount of trust of total strangers within the blogosphere. I am thinking in terms of the room for abuse of the information and services provided by weblogs and webloggers. It would be relatively easy for someone reading a weblog to saturate a post with useless messages, to copy an email address and use it on various spam sites in a malicious way. Yet this doesnít happen (at least from what Iíve heard). Ok, so some people get their comments spammed every now and again, but vindictive acts rarely occur. I realise that Iím probably asking for it now, but then again what would be the point of doing that to someone like me? (Unless Iíve really pissed someone off). Iíve got a fairly obscure weblog that is in no way near the heights reached by some of the power-bloggers. But yet, nothing ever really happens to their blogs either. And what about celebrity blogs (or celeblogs)? Surely theyíre vulnerable to spam attacks and stalkers. Yet again, as far I know, this rarely happens. Is this a testimony of the kindness of the human spirit demonstrating that such vindictive people are, in fact, quite rare? Or is it something implicitly built into the weblog world that makes such attacks worthless or too much effort?

Although there have been murmurings of comment-spam attacks on some weblogs, I canít really see that causing much of a threat in the near future. I base this on the fact that widely distributing comments to a number of blogs in a short space of time is really time-consuming. There doesnít seem to be a way of doing it as easily as in say, email, where you can simply type in an address to a mailing list and click send. At the moment, blogs are built on a number of different platforms, some hosted, some not, and not all blogs have comments (most of the free, hosted ones donít Ė and Iíd guess that the vast majority of weblogs are free, hosted ones). Not only that, but the majority of weblogs only have nano-audiences. This (I assume, perhaps naively) makes mass-comment-spamming a fairly difficult process to automate. So all that is left are the power-bloggers at the top of the blogging power law chart.

These are the people that may experience problems. Being at the top of the power curve, theyíve got the highest quotient of readers, and therefore are the most attractive to comment-spammers. As such, when they make noise about being comment-spammed, being power-bloggers, that noise gets carried quickly around the blogosphere, when, in fact, itís not going to affect the vast majority of bloggers.

Threshold Number of Posts per Blog?

Thanks to the current rethink at work of how we use our internal collaborative blog, I have started thinking about how many posts in a given time a blog can take before it is rendered useless. At work our blog has been used more as a bulletin board for people whereabouts rather than as a place for interesting newsbites and thoughts. This means that the few interesting newsbites tend to get drowned out by the whereabouts “noise”.

So what are the maximum number of posts that can be added to a weblog before that weblog becomes too saturated for good use? How many new posts is a blog reader willing to read through before they give up and look elsewhere – will there be a need for blogs that act as filters for these oversaturated blogs?

Is this just an issue on collaborative blogs where there is more potential for huge numbers of posts on even given day or does it also apply to individual blogs?

Is it possible for weblog design to be changed slightly in order to resolve these difficulties, if they exist?

Working Title

I’ve just got into work almost an hour and 20 mins after having left home, due to the worst traffic jam I’ve ever seen on the A14. My flatmate chose today to cycle into work and right now that seems like the best idea in the world. I’m so drained after the journey (can’t even be bothered to think up a decent title for this post) that I’m blogging in order to procrastinate from doing any work. It’s bizarre – I’m sure I wouldn’t normally be like this after a hour and 20 mins in the car – it’s just the constant stopping and starting in the car that takes it out of you.

Anyway, I had a good day yesterday starting with yet another great meeting with my supervisor. These meetings always really help focus my mind. It seems that I’m moving further and further away from my original proposal, but that said I’m getting closer to what I’m really interested in – guess that’s what they call research!