What is a Splog?
A splog is a blog which has been created for the purpose of disseminating spam, typically containing no original content. Splogs are extremely frustrating for people in the blogging community because they clog the already crowded Internet, and the theft of content from legitimate blogs is a troubling issue on principle and also for people who use their blogs as a source of profit. Estimates in 2007 suggested that as many as 20% of the blogs listed on the Internet are actually splogs.
The term "splog" is a portmanteau of "spam" and "blog." Splogs are about as old as the blogging community, thanks to the ability of spam to fill almost every conceivable niche. Because numerous companies offer free blogging services, starting a splog is incredibly easy and it requires no cash outlay. Once a splog has been established, it can be used to attempt to raise a site in search engine rankings with the use of extensive links. It is common for a spammer to start hundreds of splogs, to make it look like numerous websites are linking to a single spam site, in the hopes of forcing it to rise in the rankings of a search engine so that people will click on it.
The contents of a splog can take a number of forms. Many sploggers do what is known as "scraping," which involves stealing content from other sites and reposting it. Many splogs take advantage of RSS feeds for scraping, as these feeds can be used to centrally organize content for the express purpose of stealing it. Scraping is illegal, and it can be hard to detect, especially when sploggers do it cleverly, changing some aspects of the stolen text and removing all links to the original site. Some bloggers use monitoring services to look for stolen content for this very reason.
In other cases, the content of a splog is complete nonsense. Generally, splogs aren't really meant to be seen; their purpose is to create links to other sites in the hopes of confusing search engines. Many splogs also generate trackbacks in an attempt to get themselves linked on legitimate websites; bloggers typically try to prevent such junk trackbacks from ever showing up on their sites. A visit to a splog can reveal a site which is fairly unremarkable and often quite ugly.
Combating the splog problem is extremely difficult. Several websites are dedicated solely to reporting splogs and scraping, and these sites encourage users to report splogs to their hosts when they appear on hosted services. Many of these hosts have taken steps to make it harder to create a blog, in the hopes of eliminating splogs, and they typically respond to claims about spam blogs quite rapidly.
When a splog is not on a hosted service, it can still be reported to the company which provides the server space if it contains scraped content, because scraping violates copyright laws. Reporting such sites can be challenging, as the splogger typically goes to great lengths to conceal his or her identity and to hide the identity of whatever Internet host is being used. If a blogger's content is stolen and reposted on a splog and he is on a hosted service, he can also get assistance from his host.
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