More on BlogSpot's Flag button
Weblogs, Inc.’s Unofficial Google Weblog picks up the Blog Herald report and runs with it, perpetuating the “only new blogs” misconception. A familiar pattern of repackaged, and underresearched, reporting.
The Blog Herald report does raise one interesting point: could the Flag button encourage denial-of-service attacks against individual blogs? For example, could a pro-choice blog be taken down by an organised anti-abortion email campaign of “visit this blog and flag it”? Or vice versa? Hopefully those reviewing the flag reports are level-headed enough to avoid this. Similarly, could spammers attempt to hide themselves amongst the noise by orchestrating mass flaggings of innocent blogs?
One other obvious thought struck me, though: once spammers realise that carrying the Blogger navbar on spam blogs increases their chances of being taken down, won’t most of them simply remove the navbar? Although this is against BlogSpot’s terms of service, it’s trivially easy to do: a quick Google search turns up many pages explaining how, including one ironically itself hosted at BlogSpot.
(Personally, I don’t mind the navbar; the search box is moderately useful, the Next Blog button sometimes fun for serendipitous surfing, and carrying the navbar is a small price to pay for free hosting, particularly as the alternative would probably be carrying advertising. I do however remove it when styling for print—try a Print Preview to see the result—as it doesn’t seem useful to either me or BlogSpot on the printed page.)
And one wild thought: I would assume the blog search engines—Technorati, Feedster, Blogpulse and the like—have developed algorithms for filtering spam blogs out of their results. Wouldn’t it be nice to close the loop and feed lists of identified spam blogs back to Blogger so they could act on them? Interestingly enough, Technorati is rumoured to be on the market, with Google often mentioned as a potential buyer. Hmmm.
[Update: the Blog Herald and Unofficial Google Weblog posts have been corrected.]
[Update: the Blog Herald reports that the black-hat community is already considering spam reporting and flagging schemes as gameable: “‘Bloggerbowling’: the practice of having robots robots flag multiple random blogs as splogs regardless of content to degrade the accuracy of the policing service.”]