Web Hosting: Allowing Spam Blogs

This post is going to be stolen.  A while back I noticed an upsurge in splogs taking content off this site (thanks to Technorati, which doesn’t really filter them out of its stats).   So I decided to notify registrars and hosts (thanks to SlightlyShadySEO‘s comment):

Dynamic Dolphin: Report SpamGoDaddy:  Spam Abuse

MyDomain:  Spam

Note that for MyDomain, they actually forward your email onto the offender!

For splogs hosted by blogspot, flagging them so far doesn’t seem to result in any discernable effect.

This had mixed results.  GoDaddy seemed to have the most straightfoward process.  Some hosts appear to periodically check (or other folks report these spammers), as “this account has been suspended” would occasionally pop up on a splog in my Technorati reactions list.

So when a particular splog (fitfanatic) really went nuts with the culling, I decided to contact their host (HostGator).  The only recourse they allow is for one to file a DMCA complaint.  While I could technically do this due to the Creative Commons license I blog under, this would mean exposing my identity to the spammer.  Not ideal:

Owning a splog that does not include stolen content is not illegal, nor is it against our terms of service.   We do not judge the merits of the sites that host with us, merely the legality.  As such, the violation that we are looking at is the stolen content.

To handle stolen content, we use the process documented by the DMCA.

In other words, HostGator allows spam blogs.  Which leads to a few questions.  Should hosting terms of service always contain anti-spam measures?  If not, then bloggers who do not want their identity shared with a known spammer have zero recourse with regards to their content.  Should search engines and blog analysis sites create a blacklist for known splog hosts, and submit them to more intense filtering algorithms?

There is a clear difference in the caliber of the hosting companies out there.


6 Responses

  1. heh I was a bit surprised to see my nick in this context(having forgotten that I dropped that comment), but allow me to share some ideas on blacklists.

    1)Blacklists breed nastiness. Those for e-mail are what spawned the lovely botnet situation
    2)Parasite Hosting could lead to an unneeded blacklist status. It’s not hard to pick one up at an edu.
    3)Places like hostgator host a LOT of legitimate blogs. And even if they changed their TOS, terminating splogs on accounts that already exist could raise a few legal problems.
    4)Do you really want Google to become the ethical guide of the internet? Whose ethics and laws do we abide by? If it’s worldwide, say goodbye to pornography, speech critical of governments and companies and a LOT of other things.

  2. All very good points.
    I suppose blacklist is not the term I want. How about graylist? In other words, simply apply an additional level of filtering to hosts whose TOS allow splogs.
    Google absolutely shouldn’t be the ethical guide of the internet, but they currently do make efforts to fight spam. As does Technorati (although with noticeably less effect). I do think we need to find some manner of tackling splogs. I think an effective TOS is a good solution. I wonder if their TOS explicitly allow for updates?

    Perhaps social pressure, in the end, is the way to go. We could single out hosts that allow splogs, and encourage people to move away from them.

  3. Social Pressure is a good plan.
    Not terribly successful, but still good.
    I think when it all comes down to it, Google is going to have to get better at detecting splogs. That’s really the only way it will fix it. If all else fails, inject your own url into the RSS description.

    1)People will follow it back
    2)You’ll be notified each time. Many don’t strip HTML, and the result is that you get a trackback

  4. […] to fight Spam Blogs through their hosts when they steal your own content.  In this article, Web Hosting: Allowing Spam Blogs, Dan (Fitness) talks about his efforts to fight spam blogs through HostGator and […]

  5. I’ve been cynical enough to use the damn things. That is to say, I’ve trackbacked to see what they were : and on some occasions bookmarked them for my own use at searching for referral content.
    It’s a bit like DRM : not necessarily all a bad thing. Heh. Yes. I delete comment spam that makes it past filters.

  6. why this post will be stolen? thats not good!
    [Edited URL link in username to remove spam]

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