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August 16, 2005

The downside of free blog service

Stephen Baker

Back when the spam epidemic was triggering alarms, e-mails from Hotmail accounts risked getting ensnared in filters. Now, with spambloggers using the free blogs at Google's Blogger, the blogspot address raises suspicions. Mark Cuban, says:

If you are an individual blogger whose blog is hosted on blogspot.com, every day the chances of you being excluded from icerocket.com’s, and other search engines’ indexes increases.

If that weren't enough, Feedster's Scott Rafer writes that bloggers without their own domains or subdomain are excluded from the Feedster rankings. (UPDATE: Rafer sends along this link in a comment below.)The one exception is PostSecret, at # 10. One pic at Postsecret that seems to fit the theme:

11:10 AM

spam and other abuses

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Yet another very clear illustration of how totally useless these "top" lists really are.

Try this little test: Go to Feedster and search for your favorite topic keywords. You'll see plenty of Blogger blogs show up even on the first page of results. Isn't this *supposed* to be the way users are *supposed* to approach the blogosphere?

If there was only one topic that I would continue to beat the drum for in my remaining three days in the blogosphere it is Relevance. Not raw popularity, but *relevance* to what the user is seeking.

BTW, I do question the motives of those who continually attack Blogger-based blogs simply because they are Blogger-based. Or is it simply because they are "free"? What's really going on here? Maybe the goal is simply to segregate the blogosphere, into the "have's" and the "have not's". And what would be the motive for that?

There is an incredible amount of interesting content out on those "free" Blogger blogs. What *is* the motive for trying to dismiss or exclude it?

There is also a sense of community out on those "free" Blogger blogs that you just don't find in the rough-and-tumble gangs that populate the "top" blogs and their pretenders.

This raises the question of what is the goal of the blogosphere, to encourage participation by everyone, or to try to be exclusive? Right now, it seems that there is an extreme bias toward the latter. But, maybe that's because these "Look, *I'm* King of the Hill... today" battles are getting more of the press.

-- Jack Krupansky

Posted by: Jack Krupansky at August 16, 2005 01:27 PM

There are also blog services that exist solely for the purpose of hosting spam blogs. I commented on this in my blog last night. What amazes me is that these services make it simple to identify them as spam bloggers. What amazes me even more is that I still see their blogs in Technorati.

Posted by: Fritz at August 16, 2005 01:34 PM

And, Mark's agenda is? well, it's transparent.

Here's better detail on the questions you raise.

http://corp.feedster.com/blog/rafer/archives/2005/08/better_specific.html

Posted by: Scott Rafer at August 16, 2005 01:41 PM

Cuban is right on target. But there's more to having your own blog and domain name than search. Most of the hosted blogs are pretty basic with none of the cool tools for interacting with tags, delicious, ice rocket, etc, even trackbacks.

Heck, for a couple of bucks you can hire a consultant for a half day to set up a loaded wordpress site and learn what most so called A-list bloggers are just discovering.

jim wilde

www.advancinginsights.com

Posted by: jim wilde at August 16, 2005 02:14 PM

As a blogger hosted blogger, this raised some concerns for me. Also, does this include some of the early adopters of Radio Userland? I read lots of blogs that are hosted and/or free. Many in the nonprofit world, for example.

How about a "mark as spam" option in search results? How about a button saying "block results ever marked as spam/ block results marked as spam by 5 unique users by IP"

Posted by: Marshall at August 16, 2005 03:35 PM

As this medium evolves, search engines are going to have to adapt to changes in the way people (including spammers) use blogs in order to deliver the most relevant results. Ultimately search engines that exclude part of the Internet, e.g. sites on blogger.com, will not be successful because their results will be incomplete. Search engines will inevitably develop some sort of algorithm to negate the efforts of blog spammers. The trick will be in staying one step ahead of the game.

Posted by: Devon Dudgeon at August 17, 2005 07:35 AM

After reading the comments and thinking about this overnight, it occurs to me that:

1) The big commercial search engines can do whatever they want to promote commerce-oriented searching. That's their job.

2) To the degree that the big guns exclude non-commerce community-oriented blogging (e.g., personal blogs hosted on Blogger, etc.), eventually a new breed of community-oriented (non-commerce) search engine will being to emerge. That's a good thing.

So, the faster the bug guns destroy the community-oriented aspects of searching and the blogosphere, the faster we're see the arrival of truly community-oriented tools.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no open-source, participatory-culture, anti-IP kind of guy, but I do believe that there ultimately will be a huge, profitable market for software and services that *do* foster and support a greater sense of community.

BTW, I'd also like to put a word in for the need for lots of really deep research, and *eventually* development, into how to bridge the global language barriers. I've noticed that a lot of Blogger blogs are non-English, but I presume that they have a lot in common with bloggers who (presently) only speak and read English. Rather than continuing to invest mega-dollars in yet another me-too search engine, investment in bridging language and culture barriers would be very welcome.

-- Jack Krupansky

Posted by: Jack Krupansky at August 17, 2005 11:30 AM

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