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The scum speaks

Pete Ashton pointed to an interview with a varmint comment spammer oh what the hell, "varmint" covers it quite nicely. Like Pete himself says in his linkblog, a "nailgun in the bollocks is too good for them". But the disgusting parasite is kind enough to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge of the history of blog spam.

"It was around December 2003: Google did what was called the 'Florida update'. It changed the algorithm that measured how high a site should be ranked to spot 'nepotistic' links and devalue them. So if you had a link farm of sites with different names which linked heavily to each other, they were pushed down," explains Sam.

So the link spammers - who prefer to call themselves "search engine optimisers", but get upset when search engines do optimise themselves - turned to other free outlets which Google already regarded highly, because their content changes so often: blogs. And especially blogs' comments, where trusting bloggers expected people to put nice agreeable remarks about what they'd written, rather than links to PPC sites. Ah well. Nothing personal.

"Comment spamming to blogs was going on before the Florida update, but it rose after that," says Sam. "All we need is a website that allows some interaction." Photo galleries based around PHPGallery - which allows votes and comments - are easy targets too. So many of them allow anyone to leave a comment.

That does explain why comment spam started its rise from minor nuisance to conversation killer and server-destroyer in less than two years.

By the way, catching up on TheRegister's coverage on spam, malware, zombie systems, hijackings and exploits makes me want to rush to my parents' house and fix their computer switching its default browser to Firefox whether they want me to or not. It's a dangerous world out there. I'm pleased to note that the percentage of users that still uses Internet Explorer to visit my websites is down to less than 50%, but the sooner that number goes down to zero, the better for everyone.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 31, 2005 11:01 PM.

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