Saturday, August 27, 2005

Sploggers and Sploggents

Just now I finished reading an article by Rashmi Bansal on the "Spam on her blogs". I too had similar problems a few days back and had to turn on the word verification feature of blogger. This ensures that no automated script can post comments on your blog. I hope that this will be a good deterrent to spam comments, referred henceforth as Sploggents.

But it is worth noting how far can this technology help. On the bloggers side, assuming most of them are intellectually alert to activate this feature, the Sploggers will have a tough time breaking into the popular blog domains. But as e-mail spamming and phishing, they won't have to sweat much in order to look for fresh victims.

Taking analogy from e-mails, let us assume that we get the feature of marking Sploggenters as Spam, disallowing them to comment on our blog any further. Another advantage could be for people who don't want obscene comments on their blogs and can block people whom they are apprehensive about. (The feature currently available on Blogger is that one can "Flag as objectionable" a blog indicating that the content of the blog is questionable/objectionable. But it does not help in preventing spam comments, nor does it do anything to take the blog out of the web.)

But as we have seen in e-mails, the spammers take refuge in the powers of world wide web by always using a different ID or many a times phoney ID. A new feature that aims to counter this is "Domain Keys". But the trouble again is that people can create new blogs on trusted sites such as Blogger which will lead to passing them as authentic as they have actually been created. On the e-mail world, the feature used to counter this is again Word Verification. So the problem boils down to this.

If with the advent of new technologies, smarter software and hacks, if it becomes possible to pass the Word Verification step by automating it, what will be the future course of action of the Anti-spam regime.

The day is not far as there are many software available that can identify the written alphabet in lot twisted forms. I give the deadline of three years from now. That is, by 2008, the World Wide Web will again become vulnerable to massive spamming because people will be able to move past the Word Verification.

Fortunately for the e-mail community, a solution is already available-The Address Guard (TM by Yahoo!). In a jist, it will allow you to create disposable email addressed that you can give to people you are not sure are trust-worthy. If you start receiving spam from them, you can delete them and as a feedback mechanism know who had sold them, preventing future mistakes. Although this service still requires payment, as soon as one of the service providers will start giving it for free, others will be forced to follow.

The blog service providers will soon be forced to offer tools similar to those already mentioned in order to keep their users happy. As blogging is still in its infancy, it will be easier to enforce radical changes without hurting anyone. I feel that by 2007 the features to block bloggers, posts with certain words will become available. But as we have seen in nature that even after years of advancement, there are evils still incurable; Spammers and Sploggers will be around till eternity.

With the new generation of mobile phones coming, even the GSM/CDMA service providers will have to give an option to maintain block sender list, etc. to prevent harassment and ensure customer satisfaction.


Trivia: courtesy Yahoo! Anti-Spam Resource Center

Why is junk email called spam? The history of spam…

Unsolicited email earned the name "spam" because it resembled a Monty Python skit where a chorus of Vikings drowned out other sounds by singing "spam, spam, spam."

Early digital marketing pioneers contend that spam is actually an acronym for Simultaneously Posted Advertising Message.

The first spam email may have been sent in 1978 by a Digital Equipment Corporation salesperson to announce a product presentation. Source: The New York Times, February 9, 2003.

1 comment:

Al S. E. said...

I am putting together a separate blog on this particular topic.