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A new blight for blogs

A new blight for blogs

Everybody with an e-mail account loathes spam. And now anyone who writes or reads blogs can welcome a new plague, that of splogs, poised to pester the online micropublishing world.

Splogs are phony blogs lacking original content, crafted to attract ad clicks and top rankings in search engines. Frequent updates and copious links make blogs ripe for Web search tools to find. Searching on blog-sifter Technorati recently, you may have noticed splogs popping up in the form of suspicious URLs that mention classic spam chestnuts, such as cheap mortgages, antibalding potions, and pills to enlarge your bodily unmentionables.

It may come as a surprise that spammers have taken so long to hijack the blogosphere. Yet it wasn't until this month that Jason Calacanis's Weblogs, Inc. network of once-indie blogs, such as Engadget, sold to AOL this month. And Gawker Media founder Nick Denton still won't predict big profits.

Despite the alarm bells over splogs, they won't kill the blogosphere, just as spam didn't kill e-mail. But as splogs proliferate, they will make work tougher for legitimate bloggers to get their word out and for companies that broker in blog searches--such as recently launched tools from mighty Yahoo and Google. Google's getting a bad rap, the Wall Street Journal reports, after its Blogger service was exploited last weekend to create some 13,000 splogs. Sploggers are chasing dollars based on Google's AdSense business model, after all.

The Google Blogoscoped blog interviews one California man who made $400 last month through AdSense keywords embedded within his bevy of blogs about real estate investing, sports betting, poker, bingo, and so on. He doesn't consider himself a splogger, but if you beg to differ when you run across his or other suspicious sites, you can submit them to the Splog Reporter.