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February 14, 2005


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» Can blog spam be solved like email spam? from del.icio.us WebCites
Suggests something like collaborative filtering to delete SPAM. This is a little what is going on with MT-Blacklist.... [Read More]

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» Cloudmark from Johnnie Moore's Weblog
I'm currently trialling the Cloudmark's SafetyBar anti-spam software, after learning about it from Chris Anderson. Here's what interests me: at the moment, I am not plagued with Spam and the built-in filters on Outlook 2003 work pretty well. So far,... [Read More]

» Spamming the Bloggers from Jim Glass and the VSXUE Team
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» links for 2005-03-11 from Journal
Can blog spam be solved like email spam? If it can, does that mean it can’t? After all email spam is far from gone (categories: spam blogging) MT-Blacklist/Comment Spam Clearinghouse Jay Allen talks about the future of MT Blacklist... [Read More]

» Site Difficulties Update from The Left Coaster
As Steve noted in his post, comments had been disabled on the site in response to a very bad spam attack today. Things should be back to normal now, but I thought I'd explain what happened and what we are... [Read More]



I think Thunderbird warrants a mention here. It has free spam blocking which is good but has to be trained. If the Mozilla foundation could set up a system where marking something as spam would send information to their server to be downloaded by others it may make a real difference. Microsoft is doing something similar with their Anti-Spyware beta.

Ben Hyde

I'm not sure I know what the question means? Does mean anything to in the context eBay, Netflix, Amazon, abeBooks? Does it mean anything in the context of the wealth distribution? Or is this just about some important subset of the systems that leverage long tail dynamics?

One of the key features of the long tail systems is that the tail is full of junk - stuff that by most measures doesn't rise above some quality bar or another. So asking if bad actors can pollute it seems a bit strange.

Alex Dante

I'm not convinced that the email spam issue has been 'solved' at all; maybe it's just paranoia, but I'm beginning to see this as the calm before the storm. Hotmail & Gmail's spam filters have been growing progessively worse over time. A lot of spam I've seen lately appears to be chunked with random text (physics texts are popular for some reason) which can only be an attempt to degrade the effect of the filters.


I always wonder what the point of that is. Whenever I get an e-mail with a bunch of nonsense words in the subject, even if it makes it through my filters, I just delete it without opening it. Are spammers sending these things out specifically to mess with the filtering, or do they actually expect people to open their e-mails?


I dunno. I think you would actually want a lot more spam filters with more false positives, so that it'll throw out real mail and make that graph look more like the Long Tail. :)


I asked that question, and while your post here is more well-thought-out than the on-your-feet response you gave at the conference, I still don't buy that e-mail spam is conquered. And I don't think recommendation spam will be easily defeated.

If/when spammers realize recommendations are the key to navigating the long tail, they're going to be pulling out all of the stops to influence that navigation. MT Blacklist is a cool application and it's serving me pretty well, but I still have to wade through and delete/report a lot of crap each day. There also are setup problems that I'm still fighting through. This isn't turnkey.

And remember: It's the people who aren't using Blacklist and who own blogs packed with comment spam that encourage/enable this spamming.

While I think your argument has merit and I hope it goes a long way toward solving the problem, I wouldn't underestimate how cunning and innovative the spammers can be ...


Only to say that, educated and literate as I am, I can't make heads or tails--hah!--of what you're talking about on your blog here. "Gnarly" I know but "robotic graft" and "signal-to-noise-ratio!" Totally foreign. And I got here from some nice parenting blog. How could it be!? Good luck.

Eric Goldman

I generally agree with your answer, but I'm still struggling with the premise of the question. Doesn't it turn on the definition of "spam"? By definition, a lot of content in the tail is irrelevant to the majority of consumers. We might call that spam, or we might just call it content that appeals to a minority interest. I've never been clear on the difference. Eric.

David Palmer

Eric, it seems to me that the difference between spam and other irrelevant content is that the latter sits out there on the web, and the spam ends up in your mailbox. Likewise w/ programs (rather than people) that deposit comments on blogs; it's not just irrelevant content, it's delivered to your door in bulk.

And Eve, I think any good parenting blog should address the issue of signal-to-noise ratio.

Eric Goldman

David, not sure the push/pull distinction works--especially in the day of RSS readers, email alerts like Google News alerts, etc. In the end, the problem is wanted v. unwanted; the medium we use to get there seems irrelevant to me. Eric.

xmas gifts

I'll second Bad Behavior. I installed it, as well a reCAPTCHA, after my blog was knocked out by a massive attack of comment spam (more than 20K an hour at the height of it) and it's done an amazing job of picking the spammers off. Only a few get through and Akismet gets those and, unfortunately, Howard's comments, but I no longer have to wade through pages and pages of comment spam to find the occasional false negative.

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

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