David Hurth's Blog

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Stop Bookmark Site Spam! How RecommendzIt.com Cleaned Itself Up!

Recently, I was doing a search for any blogs that where linking to RecommendzIt.com. While looking at some sites I noticed a strange (and in my opinion offensive) tool called UltraBookmarker. The tool automates posting links to the top 20 bookmark sites, including RecommendzIt.com!

This was extremely interesting to me because I had just spent many hours removing spam bookmarks and removing user accounts of people that where spamming. Apparently for $20 a month the software will automatically submit your links to a social network bookmarking site including creating new user accounts so that a social network will have thousands of supposed users all of which link to whatever site(s) you would like. This is a way to make your site look like it is more important than it is. I have no problem with people submitting their site to my site once and let the social network decide if it is worth watching, but to try and make your site look like everybody thinks it is great without everybody looking at it is just wrong! It takes a lot of work to get traffic to your site and it isn't fair not to have to do all of that hard work.

The solution for RecommendzIt.com was the Catcha solution (e.g. showing random alphanumeric group of characters as an image that a user has to type into a text box). Once we made this change it blocked tools like UltraBookmarker from creating new accounts, however at times it would use existing accounts and we still had a lot of spam links added to the site. The solution to this was to remove these accounts and the recommendations associated with these accounts. Once this was done we haven't had a problem again.

Unfortunately, tools like these will continue to rear their ugly head, but if web developers can stay a step ahead of the spammers we can keep our social networks as clean as possible!

I'd like to here your comments on this new type of social spam.