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Asbestos blogger was doing a bot's job


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August 11, 2005

Asbestos blogger was doing a bot's job

Stephen Baker

Remember Michael Buffington? He was the entrepreneur who created an asbestos blog last winter with hopes of mining a rich vein of Google Adsense ads. He abandoned it after a month because he found that maintaining an up-do-date site on asbestos was loads of work--too much to justify the revenue.

Now, it turns out, the spammers are taking his idea and outsourcing it to automated programs. Consider this home equity spam blog. It's created by a machine, and as you can see, it has lots of Adsense ads. Sure, maybe it gets less hits than Buffington's asbestos blog. But when you have hundreds or thousands of these spam blogs, and machines are running them, the economics are far different.

08:25 AM

spam and other abuses

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AKA

"Go away or I will replace you with a very small shell script"

Posted by: Jackson at August 11, 2005 09:54 AM

Since no Google adsense revenue is earned unless a user clicks on those ads, doesn't that imply that some user actually expected to gain some benefit from clicking the ad? If that's the case, what's the problem, as long as the advertiser is ultimately seeing a reasonable level of conversion from (paid) click to sale?

Is the whole point that MSM is jealous of these guys?

There might also be a legitimate intellectual property issue with regards to the "news" feed content that these guys are running, but that would be an issue even if they weren't running paid advertising and were simply using the "pirated" content to attract attention to their own web site(s). The posts seem to be mostly harshly truncated excerpts from feeds; maybe the lawyers could tell us if that violates "fair use", especially since the excerpts are mostly unusable.

The ads seemed to be from legitimate vendors (as opposed to the email propositions we all love so much)... have you contacted any of them to get their perspective? I see LendingTree, LowerMyBills, and eLoan.

BTW, I clicked on the Google link for the ad block to inquire whether Google felt that the ad usage was legitimate according to their terms of service. I'll let you know if they get back to me.

Just to be clear, I don't in any way approve of these "ad blogs", but the issue should be whether they are in fact legal, in harmony with Google's TOS, and whether advertisers find them acceptable.

-- Jack Krupansky

Posted by: Jack Krupansky at August 11, 2005 11:49 AM

In considering Jack's comments you may want to check this site out:

http://www.blogwidow.com/cgi/view.cgi/www.businessweek.com/the_thread/blogspotting/

Posted by: Craig McGinty at August 11, 2005 02:04 PM

It reminds me of an old story. An old woman is walking and stops at a construction site to look. She asks the man working on the building how they put them up so fast. He replies, "without respect."

Posted by: Jim Dermitt at August 11, 2005 04:20 PM

Jim, that in turn reminds me of the construction project we've had at my house. The only difference was that somehow they managed to do it very very slowly.

Posted by: steve baker at August 11, 2005 04:30 PM


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