Pam Blackstone’s post on the “Blogging Phenomenon” brings up a very good point.
…it seems like at least half the results are likely to come from blogs or from pages that look like blogs.
Blogs have become such a serious phenomenon that a new genre of search tools has evolved just to search and/or aggregate their contents. Likewise, their potential for abuse was quickly recognized by spammers, and the phenomenon of splogging was born. Splogs are blogs that have no meaningful content and exist solely to spam the search engines with advertising. Already, sites have emerged just to track and purge splogs. (See the WebLens Blogs and Blogging page for a list.)
Blogs are affecting the web in other ways. They have a characteristic “look and feel” that is starting to impact web design. They have the potential to make everyone an instant publisher, with global access. Depending upon your point of view, this is either flooding the web with inane garbage or the beginning of a profound democratization that threatens to loosen the stranglehold of mainstream media.
It is true. I’m stumbling across more and more blogs that look like blogs, act like blogs, but aren’t blogs. Not only that, I’m getting a ton of incoming links to my WordPress blogs from sites that highlight a post or two that I’ve written, or include a link to my blogs somewhere in their content or code (I often can’t find it but I get the incoming link notice from them anyway), and there is nothing of interest or even value on their blogs. Nothing that says something like “This is worth checking out – visit Lorelle on WordPress.”
One such incoming link was in blog form and here is an excerpt of the content.
Waistcoat-pocket was Deputy-burgomaster first launch into underselling life, in which he scudi to be masqued by the same sky-scraper, devotion, courage, and asti galvanised in his military stormer. Nyanja-speaking half-castes of well-sweep and learning have dhressed reinsulated in sugar-beets of life, that appear very brown-whiskered scan-ty to thought or to celestine ; so many, that he who disclaims them is slummed to think that he lesquelles enterprise and fortuitousness asking over all external agency, and bidding help and hindrance scamper before them. dionysius of resbalandose was wonderful, and he speakest it with a stern-davit of his devil-dusted. He now came back obstinately to this thought, sweetening nothing for the rest of the world, and soon urged his two-an’-sixpence to setle…
It goes on and on for 8 paragraphs of similar dribble. At first glance, it appeared to make some sense, but then I realized that it didn’t. I visited several other posts and found that the dribble was more of the same. Totally nonsense, misspelled garbage cluttering up the web. The blog is named for cell phone ring tones and their ring tones selling messages are interspersed throughout the text, making even less sense than this example.
Yep, you guessed it. This is one of the spam blogs (splogs) you’ve been hearing about lately.
I sent an email to Blogger who hosts this ridiculous blog-in-disguise advising them of the spamming blog and requesting its removal. Now, how and where they have the incoming link to my site in their blog, I have no clue. I couldn’t find it, yet there were 17 links from this “blog” to mine. Go figure.
The only value I can see for such sites and links is to create incoming links to blogs. Blogging tools like WordPress often feature incoming links and referers on public pages in addition to the “hidden” Administration Panels. This would reproduce a similar effect of a trackback or outgoing link, maybe, adding to their page ranking on search engines. But really, I’m guessing. The only value I see is annoyance for me.
The popularity of blogging has definitely taken a firm grip on the web, but sometimes I think some brains are being gripped too tight. While running a website with WordPress is a joy, it is also a pain in the ass. On my main site, Taking Your Camera on the Road, I have had to make a LOT of compromises over the past year to import and redevelop my site as a WordPress-run website, leaving behind the tremendous control and archaic architecture of a static HTML website. The compromises were serious, and ones I’m still battling with, as WordPress is not a full CMS, but only a blogging tool with some CMS features. Blogging tools are not for every website.
What do you think about websites that now look like blogs? Have you found any incoming links from splogs to your blog? Should there be rules or guidelines as to what defines a blog? Should there be layouts or design clues which help the visitor know they are visiting a blog or a website? Or are the lines between them too blurred? Is this issue important to you or do you think it is a non-issue? After all, who really cares if they are visiting a blog or website that looks like a blog? What do you think?