NYT – Myths Run Wild in Blog Tsunami Debate

The New York Times
January 3, 2005
COMMUNICATIONS

Myths Run Wild in Blog Tsunami Debate
By JOHN SCHWARTZ

As the horror of the South Asian tsunami spread and people gathered online to discuss the disaster on sites known as Web logs, or blogs, those of a political bent naturally turned the discussion to their favorite topics.

To some in the blogosphere, it simply had to be the government’s fault.

there is more to see   → → →

Dose of Reality

Even though I am getting fewer Pakistani mortgage offers, my anti-spam hobby will probably need to give way to a new video game. A veteran speaks out in the name of futility:

THIS IS NOT A HOBBY. If you want to be an anti-spam advocate, if you want to write software or maintain a list or provide a service that identifies spam or blocks spam or targets spam in any way, you will be attacked. You will be attacked by professionals who have more money than you, more resources than you, better programmers than you, and no scruples at all. They want to make money, this is how they have decided to make money, they really can make a lot of money, and you’re getting in their way.

It’s a full-time job, and everyone will hate you, and it still won’t work. Spammers are smart and determined, and people are numerous and stupid, and spam pays. You can’t make it not pay. Going after their ISPs won’t help; they’ll auto-register somewhere else. (Already happening.) Going after their upstream provider won’t help; they’ll cut deals with the backbone providers and keep going. (Already happening.) Going after them in court won’t help; they’re already living under friendly governments. (Already happening.) You can’t stop them with Turing tests; they’ll hire child workers to read your images and manually register/post/ping/trackback/whatever. (Already happening.) Then they’ll attack you with the power of 100 million owned Windows boxes and knock you off the Internet. (Already happening.) They will keep coming and coming and coming until you give up, go home, cry uncle, take Prozac, get a regular day job to replace the one you quit when being an anti-spammer became your full-time job.

Mark Pilgrim’s cheerful missive was provoked by the current rash of blog spam: spam left in the comments of blogs, spam inserted into server referrer logs, entire blogs getting cloned and used to boost the google rank of porn sites in Bucharest.

So what’s to be done? How is it possible to continue an open dialogue, a worldwide conversation with low barriers of entry, and not get buried in porn and credit card offers bounced out of an array of third world spam sweatshops?

Or, put another way, how is it possible to defeat international organized crime, outmaneuver the best and most well-paid programmers, and eliminate a clear and powerful profit motive?

Oh well.
Blogs kinda sucked anyway.

LJ Parody

In some ways, LiveJournal is one of the more powerful and convenient “online communities” around. Unfortunately this is partially due to it’s insularity — a walled garden approach to community building. Walled gardens can be pleasant, unless the gardener starts ripping things out of the ground without warning…

A parody journal by user “george_w_bush” was recently deleted without warning by the LiveJournal abuse team because it didn’t contain a notice on every post that the writer was not really George W Bush. Because it was deleted without warning, all the writing is gone, and LJ won’t allow the user to have it. (The author of this post at Shock and Awe claims that they had their paid LJ account suspended for criticizing a politician by name…)

One of the authors of the deleted parody explains the whole thing, and she’d like other LJ users to put the word out.

Warrior

Crawling out from a SimCity binge (fortunately it was version 3 — version 4 might have put me under for the Winter…) and looking for another expression of digital monomania, I started hunting spammers.

Not the spam sent to the addresses I posted to the web, put up in clear text back in the old utopian days before mailto was equivalent to bullseye. Those poor things are incurable. Wrap ’em in filters and stick ’em in the basement.

But for my proper-name email address, sold by some… affilliate, complete with physical mailing address — this one i’ve taken to patrolling like a remote shack in Montana. Whois on the weblinks, AIRN lookup on the IP, find the upstream owners of the block. Pointless. So pointless. But actively pointless. And, like holding back the tide with a broom, it actually works for a few seconds.

It’s also very educational. Who knew so many American mortgage companies were actually based in Pakistan and China?