LiveSide: the latest on Link Spam

spam_1 If you’d been watching our membership counter in the past week or so, you would have noticed that we’ve gained about 300 users this past week, with more coming in all the time.  Normally you might think this was a good thing, but most if not all of those new users are only here hoping to use this site to create backlinks to their sites, or sites they are “promoting”.  From what we can gather, these people are getting paid to create backlinks in places like our user profile.

In addition,  we blocked and then deleted about 1,000 more before we had controls in place to try to keep this site from becoming a quagmire.  Of course we’re not alone in having to deal with link spam – Danny Sullivan, who runs a business based on search engine optimization, recently ranted about link spam on his personal blog:

No, the core problem is that the web has people who think nothing of vandalizing other web sites. That’s what link spamming is. You’re not adding value to a site. You’re simply spray painting garbage on someone else’s property, for your own personal benefit. You have no manners. You have no morals. You ought to be ashamed.

We thought we could get these people to go away by creating a provisional user profile that didn’t allow any html, and then allowing more access after a period of time.  Well that’s not going to work, as we simply can’t take the time to go back and check on these hundreds of users to see if they came back after a month to “spray paint garbage” on our site.

So for now (in addition to adding “NoFollow” tags to all user links, including links in comments), we’re shutting down any ability to create html in user profiles.  Sorry but it’s just not worth the trouble.  You’ll still be able to choose or upload an avatar, etc., just no linkable bio entries.  If you already had a bio you now need to edit, email us at feedback *at* liveside *dot* net, and put Edit Bio in the subject.  Apologies for any inconvenience, this has been a big pain for us, too. 

As for all those new users, while we wish they were actually visiting the site enough to make a difference in our traffic (or rss feeds or twitter followers), they’re not.  Go figure.