Happy Birthday Jeffro2pt0.com

Thats right folks. Today is this blog’s birthday and what better way to celebrate than to look back on the past 365 days this blog has been online.

Jeffro2pt0.com Birthday

For those of you that are wondering, the first post published on this site occurred on June 4th, 2007 New Fan Of Tumblr. Since then, I have provided a number of reviews on different sites and services, offered tips on blogging, covered various news items and a whole lot more.

Instead of rehashing the story, if you would like to know how this blog came to be, please read my About page which goes into detail as to how this blog came about.

For those of you familiar with the story, let’s take a trip down memory lane together to review some of the highlights of this past year of blogging. Continue reading

Blogs Introduced Into Universal Google Search

GoogleBlog

eWeek is reporting that Google will be adding blogs to their universal search results. Apparently, starting next week, links to blogs will show up next to images, news, books, local maps and video. This is awesome news for anyone that has a blog. Already, I garner quite a bit of search engine traffic from Google.com via search terms and strings. I can’t wait to see if Google adding the Blogs genre to the universal search will help expose this blog and other blogs to even more people.

Universal Search is the fruit of a five-year effort involving hundreds of engineers working to refine the company’s search algorithms and add multimedia content to its search returns to give users richer results.

Blogging is not dead yet!

Splog And Blog – Tell The Difference

If you are a blogger, chances are, you have either dealt with spammers already, or will be doing so in the future when your blog becomes more popular. These days, spammers are using any means necessary to get their links on your blog. These tactics include link filled comments, bogus pingbacks and bogus trackbacks. What I’m going to focus on within this article is deciding, whether a pingback or trackback is coming from a legitimate blog or not.

The example I use in this post will be from a random site that is attributed to a bogus trackback url that was found on a Mashable.com post. I won’t be directly linking to the example site because that is what those spamming bastards want. Determining whether a blog is fake or real is easy once you figure out the patterns. Granted, these patterns change from time to time, here is a collection of tactics I use to determine if a blog is fake or not.

What Is The Difference Between A Splog And Scraper?

Special thanks to Lorelle who stopped by and added her definition for these two terms in the comments section of this post.

A splog is a “spam blog”, a blog with little or no purpose other than to promote or sell something and make the blog owner money. The content is usually made up, or duplicated throughout the different posts, or a collection of post titles and excerpts from a variety of keyword matching posts in a link list.

A scraping blog is a blog that uses an automatic tool, often a WordPress Plugin, that snatches the content from legitimate blogs, called “scraping”, and uses it as its own with no original content. Some present the content in full posts, a big copyright no-no, or as an excerpt, often as you mentioned, with the “Charles wrote something interesting today” lead-in.

Also, according to Lorelle, “A scraping splog is the worst of both types.”

Precautions First:

When you discover that someone has linked to your post, the first thing you should do before visiting the site to check it’s authenticity is to make sure you have popup blocking software turned on as well as anti-virus software. I use something called Ad-Block-Plus which is an awesome FireFox extension. I highly recommend it. The reason for these precautions is that, it doesn’t take much for you to be infected with something. Especially if you run a Windows based machine that doesn’t have the latest security updates.

Checking The Theme:

The first thing to check for when visiting the source of the trackback URL is the blogs theme. A lot of spammers will generate a blog with the default theme and in the case of WordPress, this theme is called Kubrick. Here is an example of what I’m talking about.

Default WordPress Theme

Kubrick is actually a fantastic default theme for WordPress. Quite a lot of people end up using this theme. I also wanted to mention that spammers do use different themes other than Kubrick. In fact, I’ve noticed many of the sploggers are now using themes other than Kubrick. This is when it’s time to evaluate the content of that particular site. But before we move on, I want to show you something that appears on this blog that should never appear on ANYONES blog.

Adware On A Blog

Don’t worry, this is only an image. This is what I found on this particular example of a splog. If you were to click on this banner, you would probably be infected with some sort of adware or trojan even if you were protected by software. No blog should ever have an advertisement like this displayed on their blog. This is a dead give away to get the hell out of there before it’s too late.

Checking Out The Content:

Lets take a closer look at the content posted within the image up above. That post generated a trackback URL on Mashable.com, a very popular website covering social-networking and all that jazz. A good score for the spammer as they are sure to receive some sort of traffic through that backlink. Within this image, the title of the post matches the title of the original post on Mashable. The next dead give away is the text “By Charles“. There is no one on that blog by the name of Charles. In my experience, the spammers software automatically places a random name into the Author Field of the post. This author name usually links to the original post but in this case, the author name is not linked.

Another suspect of a splog is the related content. In the screenshot, you can see the title of the blog is Social Sites News. And since they linked to Mashable, you would think this blog is about social-networking and web 2.0 stuff. So why then, is there a link near the top of the page, to an article about Great Barrier Reef holds drug key to diseases. The reason is because, these spammers use software that resembles search engine spiders. They crawl content across the internet that contains a predefined list of keywords. Once an article is discovered that contains a keyword, the software scrapes the content, and then links to it, generating a trackback or pingback url. Here is some evidence that further substantiates my claims.

Categories Of Keywords

Each keyword this splog is targeting is labeled as a category. This is just a sample of the categories listed on this splog. I recognize the fact that there are bloggers out there that blog about A LOT of different subjects and each one of those subjects can be a category. Thankfully, there are other attributes that play into the matter as to whether the site is legit or a splog.

Checking The URL:

I’ve actually taken some flack for this section of the post. I’ve had numerous people tell me that the question mark and the obscure link text is nothing more than proof that the blogger in question doesn’t know about SEO friendly URLs. The 99% claim is not in general, that was a number based on my own experiences.

The question mark that is sometimes included in the URLS that these sploggers generate is nothing more than evidence that either the blogger doesn’t know about SEO friendly URLs, hasn’t bothered to change them, or at the very least, a potential sign that the blog may be that of a splog.

I’ve also been told by Jonathon Bailey to look at the actual domain of the said blog. According to Jonathon, many sploggers are using .info domains because of their cheap price. However, sploggers will use anything they can get their hands on in order to achieve their goal which usually consists of making a profit.

The Default Meta:

I’ve been informed that the default Meta block that is displayed by default on every fresh install of WordPress is not an indication of anything. At first, I thought the login link was a security issue, but Lorelle has reminded me that if someone wants to try to login to gain access to your administration panel, they probably already know the login link thus, making my LOGIN link security issue a moot point.

Blog Postings With Many Misspelled Or ReArranged Words:

Words that don’t make sense, are scraping splogs which run the stolen content through a spinning process, which “translates” the content to make it “different” from the original while staying the same and often injects ad links into the content or keywords that match whatever it is they are selling.

Conclusion:

This is by no means the end all be all of ways of determining a legitimate blog from a splog. These are all tactics that I use for this blog in determining whether a trackback or a pingback is actually legitimate. I will admit, I did comment on a blog one time, thanking them for linking to me. At first glance, they looked pretty legitimate but instead, I found out they scraped the content of a Mashable post and published the entire article word for word. Since the Mashable article linked to me, this splogger also linked to me. After that experience, I told myself that I would closely examine any other site that linked to me to determine it’s legitimacy.

If you feel up to taking on these bastards head on, you can check out a post that Lorelle ( How to Stop Content Theft: The Best Tips ) published on her blog which has tips and suggestions on how to report these time wasters.

I wanted to take this time to remind you that as a blogger, it is your responsibility to ensure that these crappy spammers don’t fill your blog with porn links, or links that would otherwise put your readers in danger. I’m sure Mashable tries to do a good job at combating spam and deleting bogus trackback URL’s, but as my example up above shows, they can’t get every one of them. As a reader, if I were to click a URL on Mashable.com which clearly looked related to the article in question, and that site ended up infecting me, I sure as hell would hold Mashable.com responsible for the infection. Wouldn’t you? If every blogger did their part with their own blogs to combat this problem, I’m pretty sure that spamming blogs would become a business model not worth pursuing.

If you disagree with anything you read in this post, or if you have some additional tips, feel free to post them below.

I Need Your Help With Spam

Spam Sucks

Comment spam has never really been a problem on this site thanks to Askismet. However, I’ve recently become a victim of Trackback/Pingback spam. It looks like bots are creating automated blogs which either scrape the entire block of content or in my case, an excerpt. Sometimes, the bot states that I’m the author of the post. Other times, the bot gets the author incorrect but still displays my content.

When I visit the culprits site, the posts are usually posted in the UNCATEGORIZED category by either ADMIN or UNCATEGORIZED. At first, I was fooled a couple of times thinking these were legitimate links but I’m starting to recognize these sites as being spammers. The joys of maintaining a blog right?

How have you tackled this problem of linkback/trackback url spam? I was told that I should install a plugin called Bad Behavior but the site was down.

I have also noticed that I am receiving spam comments on at least two specific posts within my blog. The first is on the subject of joining a forum pertaining to your niche, the second deals with my take on guest blogging. I have no idea why these two posts are attracting so much attention from spam bots but they are.

I’m open to discussion on how to combat my apparent spam problems. Any and all suggestions are welcomed. 

Why CLIQ May Kill BlogRush

When BlogRush was released to the masses, it became the next best thing for bloggers since Akismet. BlogRush claimed it would provide it’s users with a RUSH of traffic from relevant blogs through the use of a widget. This widget would display your blog posts via credits earned by displaying posts from other blogs through the widget on your own site. The truth is, neither I or many others witnessed the RUSH in traffic that was almost guaranteed to those who used the service. If you’d like to see my results that came along with BlogRush, please read an earlier post I made called Is The BlogRush Over With?

After reviewing CLIQ and what that service had to offer, it dawned on me that this service could potentially wipe BlogRush off the map. Here are the reasons why.

Full Control:

With BlogRush, you have no control over which posts are displayed on the widget. You can only control what DOESN’T show up. You also have no control over who displays your blog posts.

With CLIQ, you have full control over what will be displayed in the widget. You also have the ability to make your group private so that members can only join if you accept their request, or if you manually invite them.

Relevancy:

BlogRush does provide a FILTER list that allows you to create WORD or PHRASE based filters so that you can sort of control which posts are displayed or not but when you think of all the posts your going up against within a widget that only has 5 spaces, the filters become less of a factor. BlogRush maintains a category based organizational system. Without knowing how many blogs are actually within this category, it’s hard to judge how much competition you’re actually up against. BlogRush also uses an algorithm to detect relevancy between the blog, category and blog post title.

Because CLIQ provides you with an option to make your CLIQ invite only, you can essentially control how relevant the content will be within the widget. That is, if you only invite members that post similar or close to similar content, your going to have a relevant widget that contains blog postings that your visitors and the visitors of your member blogs will have a higher probability of clicking.

Creating Your Own Niche Network:

Users have no way of creating networks within BlogRush. Your essentially at the mercy of the BlogRush algorithm to determine when your blog post fits the right criteria to be displayed next to 4 other entries.

By creating your own CLIQ, you have the ability to invite high traffic blogs into your group. Each blog that joins your CLIQ is a referral. CLIQ administrators can set unofficial TRAFFIC requirements for CLIQ memberships meaning, you can determine what amount of traffic a blog has to gain and refer in order to maintain membership. This produces competition amongst the members to drive up their own traffic which in turn, benefits the group as a whole.

Conclusion:

If you haven’t picked up on the theme yet, as a user of BlogRush, your essentially at their mercy versus CLIQ which gives you total control. Why rely on BlogRush to provide you with a lackluster rush of relevant traffic based on algorithms when you can do it yourself and reap the benefits? Sure, the CLIQ method revolves a little more in the way of work, but hey, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Bloggers won’t be benefiting from BlogRush anytime soon unless your JohnChow. So do yourself a favor, ditch it and go for something you can control and manage yourself.

CLIQ is what BlogRush should of been and I’ll leave it at that.

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know by leaving a comment and contribute to this conversation.

MyBlogLog Buzz Tracker Explained

MyBlogLog LogoThe What’s Hot In My Communities section of your MyBlogLog Profile is an easy way to track buzz worthy info but, how does MBL decide what’s hot and what’s not?

Simply put, the links you see within this area of your user profile represent the most popular links within YOUR MYBLOGLOG COMMUNITIES. If you are seeing links to porn sites or sites you deem unacceptable, the only way to remove them, is to find out which community your apart of that is posting that link, or information related to that link and leave that community.

If your thinking that tracking down the culprits within your large number of communities would be nothing more than a hassle, your in for some great news. MyBlogLog has added an interesting feature to their buzz tracker in the form of a question mark. This question mark will finally give MyBlogLog users the ability to figure out where those buzzworthy links are coming from.

Figure Out Where Those Links Are Coming From

For instance, let’s say you don’t want links such as Fox.com to show up in your list. You would simply click on the (?) and figure out which sites are posting this link and leave their community.

Search And Destroy

According to the question mark, the site Casual Keystrokes, is the culprit behind this link. As an MBL user, you would look for that community within your list of favorites and click on the LEAVE COMMUNITY button.

It’s really neat to see how this all works and it’s nice that Robyn Tippins has finally published an article that easily explains the process. I have to agree that, clicking on these questions marks is half the fun in trying to figure out why they are creating so much buzz. Give it a shot and let me know what you’ve discovered.