This morning, I checked my email to see that I was invited to be a coauthor the “Blogmeme_Belgium” MyBlogLog page (I won’t link directly to the page because the load time is horrendous with all the authors who have signed up — there are at least 300 of them and their avatars ALL load on the sidebar). Beyond the number of authors, there are 188 members in the community.
Since I have no involvement with this site, I didn’t accept the invitation. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one:
The strange thing is that this is the only rejection that I was able to visibly acknowledge (though I am sure that most people did not accept the invitation — those 300 people who did are a small chunk of the people who appeared to have been invited!). Sadly, a good amount of my blogging buddies actually blindly joined this spammy community!
One of the smarter “coauthors” made sure to label the community appropriately:
The gamethis.com URL links to an ebay auction, where someone was looking to sell the domain name (and did for $1200). What it comes down to is this: this was certainly unwanted spam.
I know that Scott and Eric (and even Jeremy) are aware of the easy ways people can game MyBlogLog for personal gain. I know this problem is being “addressed” and I’ve been relatively impressed by their promptness in answering these concerns in various blog comments. But I think there are some major issues that need to not just be “addressed” at this point — they need to be fixed.
Here’s something else I noticed. This screenshot was taken no more than 10 minutes ago on one of the community pages:
With the absence of registered author for Boing Boing on MyBlogLog, there’s absolutely nobody to police the comments that are being posted to its wall. I’m not particularly sure that boingboing.net would condone advertising for the “top nude babes.”
My requests for today are hopefully very simple to implement:
- Kill that Belgian community and do something about the person who started it. It’s hogging resources on the client-side (and probably on the server side too).
- Either ban URLs from being posted to the “community messages” or prevent people from posting on boards that lack a proper owner. A better option would be to email the assigned owner every time a new comment gets sent. Since I have my own personal page and four blog pages to check and no way of being notified when anyone posts to either, every time I log on, I end up manually having to check these five pages to see if something new came up.
- Instead of having a “report spam” message as a mailto: link, embed a proper mail form on your website. I actually don’t have any mail application set up on this computer and Outlook always asks me to configure it whenever I click on that link.
I know that MyBlogLog has a lot of potential, but if it’s not able to properly deal with a slew of problems, it may just end up ostracizing its most loyal users. I hope that I could see prompt fixes to all aforementioned problems.
Update: This is what I call great customer service. Thanks, Scott and Eric!
Update 2: Here’s the official reply from the MyBlogLog team. These are welcome measures for sure. Thanks again for reading, commenting, and best of all, listening. 🙂
Thank you! I mistakenly accepted the invitation from Blogmemes.be this morning. I’m getting spam-slammed all day! This is the kind of thing that can kill a voluntary community such as this.
Hey Bennett, yeah, this is definitely an issue. At first, it looks harmless, but there’s malicious intent (or at least that is the ultimate goal eventually — “how far can I go to make MyBlogLog look bad, and what vulnerabilities can I exploit today?”). Sure, it seems like a great confidence-booster when you first get the invitation (“oh wow, I got invited to blog for a new site that I haven’t heard of!”) but it’s not quite like that. I truly hope that someone is out there on MyBlogLog looking to fix these issues promptly (even if that means working overtime on the weekends or on President’s Day tomorrow!) Something like this could get completely out of hand if not immediately dealt with. The spam issue on private/public messages is getting out of hand, and nobody is policing their “community messages” as often as they should. I personally find myself deleting a lot of spammy messages often but I don’t really actually end up reporting the spam due to the absence of a mail form.
I love the MyBlogLog community and wouldn’t want to see it go to waste with continued exploits like this being discovered but not quickly fixed!
Hi – thanks for the heads up. I was also invited to co-author blogmemes but didn’t agree. I think this is pretty annoying but I’m still hopeful MyBlogLog will clamp down on blatant spam. It’s a bit sad to see that once a service starts taking off, the spammers get right in there!
Yep, thanks Jason. I informed Scott because he’s answered these previous concerns so quickly. I hope that those guys are able to clamp down on the spammers soon!
Sorry that I’ve been slower than normal in getting back to you. Todd @ MBL said it right: we need both walls (software) and laws (a TOS). We’re working hard on both and never feel like we’re far enough along. On thing on the Boing Boing community — all of our comments now have no-follow tags, so it does the spammers no good vis-a-vis Pagerank. We’re working to get the word out as we can.
Thanks, Scott. My email didn’t alert me to your reply, so my apologies for not responding to you on this earlier!
I know that the nofollow links are there, but it only goes so far. It all comes down to what people see versus what the search engines do. The pink highlights in my screenshot do show that the links are nofollowed, but people without the plugin I use don’t know that (without viewing the source). Not all bloggers or MyBlogLog community members understand the whole benefit to nofollow, and they will see it as only one thing: spam.
At the end of the day, it seems that spammers really don’t care that their links are nofollowed or not. Heck, some of the spam messages my Akismet filter catches even have embedded nofollow links in them! I think that these spammers would rather gain exposure to raise awareness and interest than gain search rank from the search engines. Their posting on a huge community like BoingBoing gets these URLs in front of the eyes of however many people see the message posting until it’s deleted. I’m guessing that this is what matters most to these guys. Search rank, while important, is irrelevant to them in this capacity.
Tamar — When you get a moment, I would appreciate it if you looked at the blog post on MyBlogLog’s blog that reviews this whole weekend as well as our plans moving forward. Your feedback would be much appreciated. http://mybloglogb.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/02/weekend_spamtac.html
Hey Eric, thanks. I think it’s a great first step!
I definitely would still want to see communication flowing, so hiding the unnecessary stuff would be ideal while still allowing the “noise” (since it’s sometimes still perfectly legitimate communication). This would be a refreshing change for sure and I’m ready to embrace it!
Blogmemes is not responsible for the hack which occurred this weekend via the Mybloglog Web service.
The Mybloglog account of one of the network’s members was pirated without his knowledge.
We do not yet know why or who might be responsible.
It is not in line with the network’s code of ethics nor in its interest to proceed in this manner and serves only to discredit our community.
We are currently suffering many spam attacks on our Web sites, which we are combatting as much as possible.
We thank the mybloglog team for having now corrected this problem.
We are currently trying to answer all those who have written to us, to explain the situation to them.
co-founder of the blogmemes network
Claude, thank you for the clarification. I never figured that you were responsible at all and hope that my post never implied such. I’m sorry that this happened and to all the parties involved.
MyBlogLog is a very good resource and no one likes spam