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You Might Be A Spammer And Not Even Know It

Monday, May 28th, 2007...10:11 am

You Might Be A Spammer And Not Even Know It


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As you may have noticed Technorati is currently showing zero fans/favourites for all blogs. In all likelihood it’s a minor glitch but Amit Agarwal from Digital Inspiration has a different take on the situation.

This is what he had to say:

Big brother Technorati has finally stepped in to prevent spammers from increasing their Technorati Favorites Rank by artificial methods - i.e. people who participate in schemes like “I favorite your blog, you favorite mine.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the Technorati Favourites meme, it was designed as an experiment to measure the value of the Technorati Favourites list in terms of pure traffic. However its scope quickly grew larger, evolving into a reciprocal favouriting exercise which stirred much controversy and prompted Maki from Dosh Dosh to post a detailed response to the criticism.

Now I didn’t directly take part in the meme, but I know quite a few bloggers who did and regardless of whether you agree with the practice or not, to categorize them as spammers is condescending, arrogant, and not to mention patently false.

spam
n. Unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail.

I don’t doubt Amit must know the correct definition of spam yet he still decided to use the term to negatively label a large portion of the blogging community. I can only wager a guess as to why.

  1. He doesn’t completely understand what spam is.
  2. He has taken it upon himself to redefine the meaning of spam.
  3. He simply wanted to insult the people who took part in the meme.

My money is with number 3.

You call yourself a professional blogger Amit. Why don’t you start acting like one?

30 Comments

  • I was wondering what happened there. I saw that my favorites number was zero, and I got really depressed. =)

    My favorite rank hasn’t returned in a while, so it may well be they are taking the opportunity to re-evaluate the system. It would have been nice if they would issue a notice or such though.

  • Yep, I was actually searching for the reason for this, and should have just come to your blog to see what you had to say.

    I kind of figured you might have a post about it. It did not seem to effect rank though.

  • I suppose being one of the most visited blogs in India may have some merit.

    Do those cats in India spend any money online?

    I always thought it would be an interesting target market to tap from a PPC model just from number of people, but have not yet figured out how to tap it…still working on some ideas.

  • And the downside of people favin’ each other is?

    I we accept that Technorati is a venue for ‘bloggers to discover new stuff, what’s wrong with adding people as a favourite, even if it’s just a meme?

    Chances are, the people who participate in something like that are going to at least visit some of those ‘blogs. And if they don’t, then the casual visitor to their Technorati might.

    So the downside is actually an upside, that being more people discovering more new stuff that they might not have before via some ad hoc ’six degrees’ thing.

    If interconnectedness is such a bad thing, then more fool everyone .. doubly so Technorati…

  • Have to agree with Wayne. To me it just shows how ill-defined this social network Web 2.0 thing is, and that it has a long way to go to mature.

    This is similar to the recent problems with Digg. Personally, I think Technorati is overrated as to it’s importance, much in the same fashion as Alexa rating.

    I know it is important to the PPP folks and others, but it does not mean much if you are not blogging for dollars. There are better ways to get traffic than touting your ranks.

  • Here is another crazy thing, if anyone can explain it. I have zero as well for people that have favorited me, but all the folks I have favorited still seem to be in my list of favorites.

  • I think Technorati need some competition to make them honest…

  • Well, I don’t agree that it is not wrong.if memes like the one by dosh Dosh are allowed a free run, then the real good blogs lose out.Favouriting should happen only if you really liked the blog and not thro. these memes.

    somehow these SEO blogs try to improve their popularity by putting the same content in different words.

  • but I also do agree that guys like amit are jealous of the popularity of these blogs in a short span of time…

  • [...] Read more… [...]

  • I participated in the meme, but had no intention of spamming Technorati. I did it understanding the reasons behind the “experiment”. And as Indyank alluded to, I visited each blog in the meme, but only favorited those I really liked.

  • From what you’re saying then I guess I AM a spammer. Although I try not to be. :)

  • I was once told that every good marketeer is a spammer.

    The trick is making sure nobody figures that out…

  • Wayne, it is so true that every marketer is a spammer. Actually any blogger who wants his or her blog to be read by a large community of readers (instead of only friends and family) constantly applies some spamming techniques in this event. Actually, even if you don’t submit your own stories to Digg, Netscape, Newsvine, etc. you still vote on them when they are submitted. Should we consider this activity spam the way Technorati favorites are considered.
    In fact, I guess I am spammer according to this concept myself: I have once favorited a blog because they added Profy to blogroll and we don’t have one but the blog is really good and I wanted to do something good for them. Is it also wrong?

  • I just went over to leave him a comment.

    You write a good post.

    Off topic, is that a plugin that displays the stars beside commenters for the number of replies they leave? I’d like to know what it is.

  • I too agree with Wayne. I think there’s too much redefining of the term “spam” just to suit someone’s selfish idea of what they like or don’t like. Moreover, if the measuring system has that flaw, they — Technorati — can come up with a new one.

    What bothers me is the constant attempt of one site to check or curb what bloggers do without any clear idea of the consequences of their actions. It’s become a weird habit and a great example of the lack of systems thinking…or any real thought at all.

    So we have Googlebots that can’t really tell if a blog is real or fake, even if it has more than one author. I applaud what Google’s trying to do, but the bots need to be fixed.

    We have person X who doesn’t want person Y to make a valid link back to person Y’s blog from the comments section. (I personally allow them.)

    I mean, who cares?

  • “We have person X who doesn’t want person Y to make a valid link back to person Y’s blog from the comments section. (I personally allow them.)”

    If the ‘blog allows, I add a link. But I make sure that I add a link to an article of mine that’s pertinent to the comment I’m making, which usually qualifies either my comment, or enforces the article itself.

    This is what could be called White Hat comment spamming, but the overriding rule is that I add value, not take away.

    Speaking of comment spam…

  • I was an early participant of that meme. Being a new blogger, that meme helped me discover a lot of great blogs and new friends. The funny thing about the spammer accusation is this: are people afraid that if by some freak chance they lose their spot on the most favorited list, this will mean that nobody will read their blog anymore? Ridiculous.

  • I think if Technorati is serious about “cracking down” it should focus on all the “you link to my blog and I’ll link to yours” that goes on. Content drives me to a blog and brings me back, not any Technorati rank. More often than not, mediocre content and a blogroll as long as the screen go hand in hand.

    Content, btw, brings me back here! Good stuff. Thanks.

  • Marie,

    See, this is what I’m ranting about > “I think if Technorati is serious about “cracking downâ€? it should focus on all the “you link to my blog and I’ll link to yoursâ€? that goes on.”

    What??!!

    Do you realize that linking is the mother’s milk of page ranking and popularity determination? If bloggers link to each other, that’s great. Moreover, links in comments are generally not a powerful at all as links in a blog post, so all the hulllabaloo over that is….just that.

    I think people should spend more time on being creative and less time on being controlling.

  • People will always find a way to game any system. Especially if there is financial reward involved.

  • My main contention here is with the intentionally incorrect use of the word “spammer” to lump a large group of people in with a much loathed segment of the online world. Using that word was unnecessary and reeked of bitterness. I’m not one to get agitated easily but the subtly of his attack really got to me.

    To be honest I see merit in both sides of the argument regarding the meme. It’s very much a grey area we are treading in and intelligent and civil discussion, like what I’ve seen here in the comments, is much more productive than insults.

  • To Wayne:

    Does not sound like you are a spammer to me, “white hat” or otherwise…and of course per Dan’s definition (it would not be spam).

  • @zennie — yes, of course I realize what links are and can be. I love links within articles and linkbacks to other posts on someone’s blogs. It’s the blatant and wholesale swapping of blogroll links I object to; as digitalnomad put it, people will always find a way to game any system. That’s what bothers me. The other day, while I was Stumbling, I ran across a blog that was running a contest. To enter? Link to the blog. That’s gaming the system, IMO.

    And I agree with dan about the incorrect (and, I would submit, inappropriate) use of the term “spam.” I’ve seen it too often with the term “trojan horse” bandied about, apparently without any real understanding — or care– what it really means.

    I think we’re all on the same page here….

  • Hi Marie,

    I don’t have a problem with Blogrolls, as many blog networks contain them. The best example of this is the 75-blog network created by Jason Calicanis and sold to AOL for a then-record $25 million (actually, I think it still stands).

    What I find is a stark division between those who blog– just to blog — and those who do it as part of their online work. The former are prone to use the term “spammer” haphazzardly, whereas the latter understand that it applies to email and automatic blogs that have no human writers.

    Z

  • By the way, the fan count is showing accurate numbers again. It looks like it was a glitch after all.

  • i remember it’s amit agarwal and darren rowse who were annoyed by this meme. jealous, i don’t know. what do you think?

  • @digitalnomad: I recently described myself as: “a predatory, opportunistic, self-promotional whore who is largely quite shameless, but shrewd enough to know when to curb the effusive enthusiasm just long enough to close the sale.”

    So I’m not convinced by your argument that I’m not a spammer.

    Go on, say more nice things about me, I might just change my mind…

  • As Zennie said:

    What bothers me is the constant attempt of one site to check or curb what bloggers do without any clear idea of the consequences of their actions. It’s become a weird habit and a great example of the lack of systems thinking…or any real thought at all.

    I think all this kind of thing is why I rarely bother with technorati and the like - i’ll go through a brief flurry of ‘Ooooohh.. I wonder whos linked/ looked since I last checked’ and then it’s another 3 months before I bother again. I certainly don’t participate in linkwhoring - although there is the odd meme i’ll consent to do if i’m in the right mood when tagged.

    This ’spam’ meme was not one of ‘em. following the comment trail is my preferred method of finding new blogs - that’s why I like twitter so much.

  • meme is an effective way to reciprocal linking in technorati and other bookmarking sites.

    And thats not an absolute spamming. Bcoz it will not spoil the bookmarking sites function. on the contrary it will increase the traffic and activities of the visitors in those sites.

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