11 May 2008, Comments Off on Fence, son of Wall: Exploring the Sploggiverse

Fence, son of Wall: Exploring the Sploggiverse

Author: Helen

On a slow day, the moderation queue can provide a laugh or two. “Not bad at all, but this topic is rather little of interest. Please do not disappoint your readership,” writes “Vonido”, huffily. Vonido, I apologise, and I’ll do my best to serve the needs of my spambots better in future! “Amyisku” says “cool site for my mind its very goodPlease, send your abuse here!!!” Only too happy to oblige, Amyisku, but I really couldn’t be bothered, as both of you are programs with no consciousness (as yet – unless the Singularity has arrived while I wasn’t looking.)

Then there’s the splogs – those roboblogs which are set up with a normal blogger template, blogroll and dated posts which consist of bits chopped out of other peoples’ blogs. Usually when a splog links to you, you’ll find an incomplete piece of your own work chopped out and used as a “post” in the splog.

Extremely annoying, useless (who on earth would go to read these things and click on their links?) and ethically on a level with email and telephone spam. If I had a huge number of hits, they’d be a moderation problem, but at the moment they’re just like annoying blowflies which I slap and move on.

“Fence” was a splog which linked to one of my older posts. If you take a look – http://visde.com/generic/lib/fence/index.html (No link for you!) they haven’t even bothered to steal any text to make posts, which is a plus I suppose, and there’s a certain dadaist quality to it.

There’s a darker side, though. So you think, “OK, this is automating a bunch of links to a specific product. Boring, but so what?” But if you click on one of the “fence” links on the blogroll, you’ll get redirected to something like “Game cheats”. Obviously a massive risk for spyware, adware and worse.

So I decided to go and check out the main site, and discovered a software company that’s trying to do all the right things in product design – if you believe their introductory blurb.

Creating innovative product experience. We think creatively and work together to solve problems in a human centered way, building a captivating experience for the brand and the client’s audience.
Our holistic design approach recognizes the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. We research and consider all of the elements effecting the user’s perception and expectation of the brand and its product. Through the process of collaboration between the client, the teams, and the user, we ideate, design, evaluate, and continually refine the product to deliver an innovative solution for a 360 degree captivating experience.

And from the “who we are” page:

Our diverse, multi-disciplinary culture helps us innovate across product and organization types. We are a consulting firm specializing in user-centered product design. As a team, Visde has extensive experience in interface design, information architecture, user research, package and industrial design, mobile applications, and a variety of other areas.

The people working there look genuinely nice, too. So why would a software company that’s big on usability design and product design destroy their reputation by standing behind a slurry of splogs which annoy and alienate the very Web 2.0 users who might be their future customers?

Well, guess what else I found on their main page.

The company has created a Postsecret-like feedback application, where you get to make suggestions to them, titled “What the World Needs in 2008”. (You can guess what my first response was. Splogs. LIKE A HOLE IN THE HEAD!) The entry box is somewhat limited, so you need to be pithy. The URL is http://visde.com.

I’m up to my fourth comment. Bloggers, suffering under the deluge of splogs, have at it!

Comments (0)

  • TimT says:

    I always assumed that spam comments were written by an actual person, and then delivered to millions of blogs the world over via a robot/spambot. But then, they’ve always got hideous grammar – is that evidence for them being written by a human or a robot?

    I quite enjoy them – in *extreme* moderation. Spambots occasionally manage to be well-mannered and pleasant, somehow – such as the second commenter on this thread.

    On blogger, of course, we have that spam-filter code that weeds out the robots from the people, but occasionally spam slips through: now that can only mean one thing, I guess. People are actually paid to disseminate spam around the world.

  • Helen says:

    People are actually paid to disseminate spam around the world.

    Yes, definitely they are. I read an article a while back which I’ll try to dredge up using my google-fu.

  • TimT says:

    Love to read it. Spam, and spammers, are oddly fascinating. SBS screened a documentary some years back, for instance, where the presenter actually brought a number of the drugs available on the internet from spammers, and tried them out on himself, with amusing non-results. He also tracked down the apocryphal ‘first spammer’, a guy who was in the army IT team and sent out an unsolicited group email at a time when the internet was still confined to American army computers. I’ll hop onto google myself…!

  • TimT says:

    Here. SBS may re-run it some time, I guess.

  • genevieve says:

    Heh. Good luck with the comments, Helen. I will be interested to hear how you get on with that.
    I wonder if the spammer is carving something out of both of yez, actually. Not sure how though – it’s too early in the morning.

  • Helen says:

    My latest commenter is Chauncey Goins. That’s just all CLASS.

  • Helen says:

    Genevieve, I wondered about that too. If so, it’ll be a heads up for them.

  • elissa says:

    I thought about using lots of bad spelling in this comment so that you would think I was a spambot, but while that would be fun it would also be a tad counterproductive for me.

    I am a journo writing an article for the Melbourne Age about the blogging community. I have been lurking about reading your blog for a bit – would you agree to be interviewed for my article? I’ve put my blog address in the details so you can check out that I am a real person before you respond!

  • Helen says:

    Why, soitinly!

    Is it OK to remain “a western subs working mother” or similar, my real name isn’t hard to find (hi Ken), but if I put it out there I’d feel a bit too much work-life collision, if that makes sense. 🙂

  • dysthymiac says:

    elissa above might want to read up on the article on bloggers written for onlineopinionaustralia where DanielDonahoo accused us all of being sad shut-ins “desperate for relevance by Guugle-result”

    I guugled HIM and ran the result on my blog.
    His wife went feral and there was an online brawl involving more than several people.

    Dear Balcony Blogger: re the work-life collision – after viewing SBS Insight program in past few days, it seems we have to just roll over for that one.

    A blogger I read and now forget, ran a Post on the 30-year anniversary just gone, of that guy you mention who did the first spam.
    They suggested he be stabbed in the eyes.

  • elissa says:

    Thanks for agreeing to the interview, if you would email me, we can line up a time to talk. Your can remain anonymous if you like, but I’d love to talk to you about why you want to do that.

  • matilda says:

    “I guugled HIM and ran the result on my blog.
    His wife went feral and there was an online brawl involving more than several people.”
    Hey dysthymiac I’ve just wasted an hour looking for this bunfight! Found the online op article, but yr own blog doesn’t have earlier archives – how come? clues led me to think it must be on a previous blog called brownies, nothing doing there either, a lot of cybernerds are called brownie and have blogs, there’s unsurprisingly, a LOT of recipes for brownies out there in cyberspace.
    Maybe the real problem with blogging is the timewasting, trawling, trawling, looking for juicy words, something to thrill. The thinking person’s TV.

  • Helen says:

    Yeah, Brownie, link please!

    Daniel Donahoo’s actually commented on this blog and seems pretty nice. I’m disappointed he would descend to write one of those boilerplate “bloggerz are tragic nerdz” pieces. He is usually spot on with his opinion pieces too. But I dive in and out of OO at random so didn’t see that one.

  • Helen says:


    My google-fu yields some Boynton. Yay!

  • matilda says:

    thanks Helen. Though my delving pointed to the blog-brawl actually being on brownies blog, which may be the current ‘dysthymiac’, but the archives aren’t old enuf as the original piece in Online Op & the fight happened in 2005, i think.
    still the Boynton brownie convo had some cute lines ‘acland street with gum trees’. love it, am gunna use it for any trendy rural retreat i might get to one of these days. likewise for ‘flesh friends’ – a new one on me. But am v. confused by ‘I hardly ever turn on my television set. and now I have to get to Mansfield Park thanks’.

    Oh, it makes sense without the 2nd ‘to’. thought i’d stumbled into a jane austen timewarp thingy.

  • Zoe says:

    matilda, you might find this LP thread discussing Mr Donahoo’s piece very interesting.

    Then you might like this one from for battle!

  • Helen says:

    Matilda, unfortunately, Brownie’s first blog was deleted, and Dysthymiac doesn’t cover that period.

    Genevieve – One of the owners of the URLs has replied to my email saying that yes, they had been hacked.

    Zoe – Going over there now!

  • Helen says:

    Did DD really mean to call Tim Dunlop Tim Dunplop?


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