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Why Comment Spam is Dangerous to Our Blogs

Comment Spam is a terrible thing. I feel like I’m constantly fighting a battle against the slime that leave unsolicited, irrelevant and often degrading comments filled with links to disreputable sites on my blogs. It comes from the automated bot spammers but also from the small blogger who think that a comment like ‘nice site’ with a link back to their site is any better. I delete them all and add them to a blacklist.

There have been mornings that I’ve logged onto my blogs after peaceful night’s sleep to find thousands of comments on my blogs. It can be down right depressing – especially when you think you’ve finally installed that tool to stop spammers in their tracks only to find that they’ve found a way around it.

However I fight on. You see I believe that if we don’t delete and fight comment spammers then we’ll do ourselves a disservice. Comment spam left unchecked can not only bring your own site into disrepute and degradation, but I believe it can also decrease your site’s standing in Google and other search engines and that in the end we all suffer from it.

This morning I was doing some surfing and I thought I’d stop by Blog Search Engine to see what was happening there. I ended up on their blog and was really disappointed by what I saw. It wasn’t that the blog hasn’t been updated for a few months (that is their prerogative) but it was the 142 comments on the last post – all of which (bar one that I could find) were spam to poker, finance and drug sites. Unfortunately this was the tale to virtually every post on their blog – between 80 and 160 spam comments everywhere you look.

Whilst I can understand the frustration of dealing with spam I worry for Blog Search Engine when I see the way they’ve let their blog go. I worry for them on a number of levels:

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Tips and Suggestions for Launching a Successful Blog from the Evangelical Outpost

The Evangelical Outpost has a great series of posts on How To Start a Successful Blog that might be worth checking out if you’re towards the beginning of your blogging journey. His tips cover the topics of:

Part I – Before You Begin

Part II – The Beginning Bloggers Toolbox

Part III – How to Become an A-List Blogger

Part IV – The Art of Marketing Your Blog

Part V – Owning a Micro-Niche

Part VI – Three Essential Elements of Blog Design

I particularly find part IV useful as he explores the idea of owning a micro niche which is an approach that I myself subscribe to in most of my blogging. Rather than blogging on a wide variety of topics it is much easier (but still not simple) to establish a reputation in a smaller niche with a blog.

Some of his other posts on blogging are also quite insightful including How to become a Higher Being (a look at the top ten blogs on the ecosystem) and How to get linked by Instapundit (a look at who Glenn links to and how to get his attention).

The Risk of Blogging a Scoop

Apple’s recent decision to sue fan site Think Secret for publishing rumors (which look like they were too close to home) about an upcoming Apple product got me thinking this week about where I as a blogger who rights about technology would stand with regards to publishing such information. On a number of occasions in the past two years of blogging I’ve been given significant information on yet to be released products including specifications, names and even photos.

Some of this information comes from within companies, others from anonymous tips and sometimes they are from mistakes companies have made in publishing pages on new products too early. Its a real buzz when you get such a scoop but what are the ethics of it? Just as an important question is what are the risks involved with such scoops? Is it worth publishing such information if we could be sued? As smaller operators could we even afford to foot the legal bills for such legal action?

This week I received an email from an employee of Samsung who requested that I take down information that I had posted on my Camera Phone Blog on threeconcept phones‘ (or phones in development) that Samsung had not officially launched. I did not obtain the information or pictures that I posted illegally, but rather from another site that had published it (with links back to them).

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Long Term Blogging Builds Credibility

Holy Weblog Batman! T.L. Pakii Pierce is writing some great articles these days! His recent one on Cracking Credibility & Why Internet Marketing WILL Change is worth the read and talks (as the title suggests) that credibility is an essential element of effective blogging.

Blogging is not a silver bullet solution – it takes time to build an audience, time to build relationships and time to build credibility as a source of information that people will keep coming back to. Its common sense really. T.L says it much better than I do:

‘When you consider the cost of blogging and the return on your investment, the ROI of blogging is phenomenal…BUT…it comes at a price.

But doesn’t everything?

The price is that you must commit to a relationship that will require ongoing attention. Blogs will amplify your message and your reach in a powerful way and at near zero cost when compared to other means of reaching a market with your message. But the price of relationship is the need to continually connect with your market and develop your social network in order to build an authentic and authoritative voice that can be trusted.

This is an extremely important message to receive and digest for newbie marketers and newbie bloggers especially. You cannot approach blogging thinking you will set a up page and sell tons of items. You have to properly prepare a message that helps carry your product to a targeted niche audience….’

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Are Explicit Copyright Notices Necessary for Weblogs and Web Pages?

Dave Taylor answers the question “Are Explicit Copyright Notices Necessary for Weblogs and Web Pages?” and writes:

‘This means that you do not need to have an explicit copyright notice for you to have a legally enforceable copyright, as long as your name appears on the work as an author. Anonymous material is covered too, but you can read about that yourself if you’re interested.

The US Copyright Office clarifies how the Berne Convention applies to U.S. Copyright law: “The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U.S. law, although it is often beneficial.

Continuing to quote from the Copyright Office: ”Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if the work carries a proper notice, the court will not give any weight to a defendant’s interposition of an innocent infringement defense—that is, that he or she did not realize that the work was protected. An innocent infringement defense may result in a reduction in damages that the copyright owner would otherwise receive.“’



Good answer which is what I was advised by my own legal investigations. Dave goes on in the article to write about what makes a good copyright notice. Well worth the read.

:: w.bloggar :: version 4.0 released

Wb-Tools

PC users might be interested in the latest release of :: w.bloggar :: which has just been released.

:: w.bloggar :: acts as an interface between you and your blog, acting as a post and template editor. It allows offline editing (of course you have to connect eventually to update your blog).

The latest version (4.0) supports MovableType advanced post options and new tools like WordPress, SquareSpace, B2evolution etc. Get a full list of the update changes at their What’s New page.

Looks like a good system – but unfortunately I’ll never know as I’m a Mac man and they have not and will not ever release a version for me. Instead I use ecto which supports both Mac and PC users. If w.blogger is anything like ecto I’m sure its a very useful tool!

I’d be interested to hear from w.blogger users – how do you find the new version? – write us a short review of the interface and I’ll gladly publish it here or link to it on your blog.

Word Press – Web Application of the Year

ars tecnica has just announced its awards for 2004 and has named WordPress as Web application of the year.

Let’s face it. Blogs are in fashion, and why not? Vanity knows no bounds, and there are some people who actually do something productive with theirs. From the influence of blogs on the coverage of the US presidential elections to every random teenager who has problems with their partner/parent/teacher/cat, blogs are out there allowing your most intimate feelings to be shared with random people at wifi hotspots. WordPress is the most prominent rising star of weblog software, completely free and with a large and active community. Styles, plugins and hacks are readily available, with problems such as comment spamming being addressed far more rapidly than competing applications.



I have to agree – WP is moving forward very quickly and is a highly useable application for blogging. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops in 2005.

New Adsense Format in Testing – 7 Ads per box

Adsensesky1-1

It looks like the people at Adsense are trialing a new format of ads again. Actually its not completely new – the size is the normal wide skyscraper (160 x 600) but the difference is that they are trying 7 ads in it rather than the usual 5.

The font is smaller and there is no URL on the design. I found it on one of their tester sites, sitemeter which runs Adsense ads on their stats pages (like this one).

Adsense have tested numerous formats on these pages and only some of what I’ve seen trialed there has ever gotten through to the rest of us so don’t count on seeing it as an option too soon – but you never know.

I’ve included a screen shot of this skyscraper (left – click to enlarge) because these tests always last too long.

What do you think of the new format? Theoretically it should increase the click through rate for ads as there are more chances of ads being relevant for readers – however the font is smaller which decreases the chances of users seeing them.

The other initial thought I have is that most of my pages already have two ad sections per page and Google struggles to fill them both already as it is. I worry that if I moved to a 7 ad format whether the other ad section would more often than not be empty.

I guess we’ll find out how useful the format is by whether they offer it to us.

Breaking News Blog Collective FAQ

Fredrik over at CorporateBloggingBlog takes a look at our new Breaking News Blog Collective and writes:

‘I like the idea of developing the group blog concept and “collective blogging” is an interesting thought. But what on earth does medical research have to do with Jessica Simpson? Or credit cards with MP3-players (unless you use the first to pay for the second…)? And why can’t readers subscribe to the collection of blogs with one feed?’

I appreciate the critique of what we’re doing but wonder if I communicated clearly what we’re hoping to do with the collective when I announced it. Let me make a few points to try and clarify things a bit more:

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Weblogs Inc announces SCM Wire

WeblogsInc have announced another blog (seems to be a weekly occurrence now) called SCM Wire which is dedicated to supply chain management. Its currently in beta but is functioning well. They describe the brief of the blog as:

‘The Supply Chain Management Blog is dedicated to reporting on and exploring the world of the industrial and consumer supply chain, including purchasing and procurement, distribution, logistics and traffic, e-commerce, outsourcing, customer relationship management, and a bit of operations management. We’ll also touch on some supply chain related general management and business topics such as human resources, negotiation, and training and development. Supply chain management is one of those less than glamorous topics and professions that seemingly works in the background. But, it is the glue that holds business together. We all experience it on a daily basis….’

Not sure I’ll be adding this one to my RSS feed but its sure to tickle someone’s fancy and by the little digging around that I’ve just done on what ‘Supply Chain Management’ pays on contextual advertising I’d say it’ll be a pretty worthwhile venture for Weblogs Inc.