Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spam My Wiki, Please

I'll post more about scenery soon; this will be short and not terribly topical.

The X-Plane Plugin Wiki used to have no login requirements - anyone could just click and edit. All was good for a while, and then I logged in one day to find some of the most highly used pages stuffed to the gills with the phrase "Nigritude Ultramarine" over, and over, with links to other sites.

You can read about this phrase, why it was invented and what was going on here.

Our response was to put a user login requirement on the site, and we haven't had a spam problem since (knock on wood) although we do seem to get what appear to be bogus signup requests. (They don't really hurt anything, they just clog the user database. I'm not sure why anyone would sign up if they don't intend to actually do anything.) But a few thoughts on Nigritude Ultramarine and people's attempts to get junk spam sites into the top of Google's search listing:
  • I was pleased to see a real site (this FAQ) as the number two search hit for the term...this real link from a real blog to them can be sort of a contribution to their page rank.
  • I have faith that Google will continue to fight the technology arms race against seach engine optimizers...Google has gobs of money and an immense motivation to do so.
  • Apparently link farmers, in an attempt to raise their page rank, have been using bots to automatically steal blog content. I haven't seen this myself yet and I've never had an X-Plane query go to a junk site. But some blogs I read have complained of this happening.
Only mildly related, there is an X-Plane Wiki, and I'll try to point people toward it next week; I've been posting things there rather randomly in an attempt to get underdocumented stuff written down somewhere.


Michael said...

I've been a victim of stolen blog content. I don't recall how I've stumbled across it, but you can just google one of my distinctive blog post titles such as "Hacking C++ from C" to see it in action. Disgustingly my blog is only the fifth result, and the top four results for that phrase are all illegal copies of my post.

Alas, the one time I tried to do something about it, the blog service in question (I believe it was Blogger) told me to send in a written takedown request. They have never replied to my incredulous followup.

Benjamin Supnik said...

Hi Michael,

It looks like maybe you're #2 now? The N.U. FAQ is #2, which isn't bad considering how much jostling their is for the phrase.

Michael said...

Well this is weird. If you search for the phrase in quotes, then I'm the fourth result, although the ones above me are two pairs of pages from only two sites. And the link to my site is only to my blog index, not that particular post. If you search for the phrase without quotes then I show up as the second result and it's a direct link to the post. Truly the ways of the Google are mysterious.