A new surge of spam hit my comment fields in the last few days, so I updated my blogging software and the anti-spam plugin and the blacklists and, as suggested, my personal blacklist is now automatically published as I add things.
It’s amazing the lengths people will go to to increase the Google PageRank of their site. Presumably they’ve now found that the anti-spam software stops most direct links to casino and porn sites. The latest spam goes to sites like “discoveryofusa.com” which, although it does have basic (copied from a book, perhaps?) information about Columbus, obviously serves the primary purpose of linking to a casino site and nowhere else. If these PageRank scammers can get enough people to link to their discoveryofamerica.com front, that site will get a high PageRank that it will pass on to the single site it links to. That means that next time you search for “casino” on Google their site will (if the plan works) come up higher than other casino sites might. It also, unfortunately, means that next time a schoolkid searches for information about the discovery of America they might get this excuse for information.
I wrote a paper about how links shape an unofficial economy online last year: Links and Power: The Political Economy of Linking on the Web. If I were to write a new version this linktheft would definitely be included. Blogshares, though now gone, was another, more pragmatic display of the more collaborative side of this economy.