Tag Archives: abuse

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Important post on the Google blog about Google’s future in China

If you haven’t heard, there’s big news on the Google Blog about malicious attacks and Google’s future in China. Please take a minute to read the post.

I wanted to add three things:

  1. I work for Google fighting abuse, but I’m not involved in this so I can’t tell you anything more than what you see on the blog. If I was involved, then I definitely couldn’t tell you more. Standard disclaimers apply.
  2. I am very proud to work for a company with such a commitment to openness and free speech.
  3. I’ve worked with some folks from our Beijing office, and in my experience they are smart, capable people committed to serving users and helping people get the information they are searching for. I hope everything works out for them.


Seeing more spammers on Twitter lately?

It was inevitable. As Twitter has grown and started pushing into the mainstream, spammers have started ramping up abuse. At first glance, Twitter isn’t the most obvious target – you actually have to follow someone to get content from them, users don’t generally search it for high-cpc stuff like meds and lawyers, and how much spam can you really get into 140 character messages?

But I’m seeing more invites from users like the one below:

Seeing a lot more spammers on Twitter lately...

First: What is Twitterspam? How do I know this is a spammer?

When it comes to spam, most people “know it when they see it,” but it’s helpful to look at the specific signals that this user might not be worth talking to. First off, they have 180 followers and yet haven’t posted a single update. The photo is a dead giveaway. The bio is actually pretty well-done, it’s in English and it’s not outlandish, but the homepage link (http://my-pictures.no.tp/tlow/) – she’s in Portuguese Timor?

Second: Why spam Twitter?

Spammers have two reasons to abuse Twitter: monetary payoff, and because it works.

How can they make money by tweeting a bunch of random people? Well in this case they aren’t, at least not yet. The payoff has to be through the homepage link, which I’m not following and you shouldn’t either. You get a friend invite on a system that, so far, has been a medium of immediate, short, personal communication. Your trust barriers thus weakened, you at least want to see who it is. They don’t have any updates yet, so you click the homepage link and… Virus. Or a maze of PPC affiliate pages and redirections.

Above I said spammers are hitting Twitter because it’s working. How do I know? Look at the number of followers, and the ratio of people followed to followers. About 22 percent of the people spammed so far have responded. I don’t know how many click through to the home page link, but if half the people bother to go that far they’ve got an amazing success rate for spam.

I wish Twitter luck. I know a few people over there, they’ve got their work cut out for them. This sort of thing isn’t easy to fight, it’s an ongoing process. They’ve already taken some visible steps, like using rel=”nofollow” on the Bio link, which at least keeps away blackhat SEOs looking for sources of pagerank. They’ll probably have to do more, most of it on the backend where you and I will never be the wiser. Happy spamfighting!

Thoughts on Blog Usability

DSC_0723 I’ve been kicking around the idea of redesigning my homepage and blog, though I’m not sure I really have the free time to do it. To start, I thought I would to put down a few thoughts about applying usability principles when designing blogs.

When you starting thinking about usability it’s temping to jump right into lists of principles and rules of thumb. It’s a little silly applying Fitt’s Law when you haven’t even established what you want your site to accomplish in the first place. So what, generally, do you want your blog to do?

Personal Goals

  • Share thoughts and work with others
  • Collect a body of work to represent myself (like a portfolio)
  • Collect information for later discovery (by myself and others)
  • Provide an outlet to continue practice writing
  • Allow others to communicate with me and comment

If you’re creating or redesigning a blog for a company, the goal set may be very different. Below are some examples that don’t actually apply in my case.

Business goals

  • Communicate with customers
  • Build long term relationships with customers
  • Produce quality content to drive search traffic
  • Generate revenue through advertising
  • Etc.

Many projects don’t even get this far before the graphic designers and web developers are already making mock-ups, but we still have one more important step to do. We know why you’re building a blog, but why are users coming to it?

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