On Blogging… and Spam

QA Blog

QA Blog

I had heard about ‘blogging’ for years, but had managed to avoid learning about it until reading the Allison Reynolds books by J A Jance. Her description was pretty enticing.

In this series, a lady is encouraged to start a blog. It is described as being a free form expression of her thoughts in a general subject area, which is then distributed throughout the web. People read it, and reply with their thoughts, leading to meaningful conversations and even some friendships. Pretty cool, no?

So when I was offered the opportunity to contribute to these blogs about testing, an area I believe in and know a fair amount about, I jumped at the chance.

Sadly, fiction books seem not to be a reliable source of information.

I write my blogs and they do in fact get out there. But those multitudes of replies leading to conversations and possible friendships? Not happening.

Why is this? Could it be the subject area? I note this appears to be the norm for most blogs I’ve seen about testing, and I’ve not been exposed to any blogs about other subjects, in order to see if they are more interactive. Are testers just not enthusiastic blog participants? Or is it that there is not enough controversy in this field? Or maybe testers are just ‘too busy’ to follow blogs; they read one, glean what they can from it and move on.

In any case, we actually do get a lot of responses. At the current time, the 35 posts on this site have received a total of 1300 responses, or an average of about 38 per post. Not the deluge ‘promised’ by J A Jance, but nothing to sneeze at, eh? Unfortunately, 1200 of these were ‘spam’, meaning a 2 posts got 20 valid responses, some got 2 or 3, and many got 0.

For the ‘oldtimer’, ‘Spam’ was (and I guess still is) a sort of meat substance in a can with a long shelf life. Kind of like the meat equivalent of a Twinkie pastry.

Younger people will consider junk email to be spam. You know, when a person (particularly a female person) gets an offer for low cost Viagra with no doctor visit required. How a food item became a technical term I have no idea. Seems kind of insulting to the product, which may have been the idea.

The latest incarnation of this annoyance is to reply to blogs with meaningless posts whose purpose is to divert the reader to a different web site. Funny, J A Jance’s character doesn’t seem to get this on her blog…

What kind of morally bankrupt person would stoop to this? Or worse, set up automation to do it for them? Ones who want money and don’t care how they get it, and have a low opinion of everyone else’s intelligence, apparently.

Don’t get me wrong. Money is not evil, it is the LOVE of money which is evil. I understand the desire to get people to come to a web site, because if nobody comes, there is not much point to its existence. And often money can be made from visitors.

But the wholesale inundation of innocent and uninterested people with these ‘stealth’ ads does not seem like the best way to encourage traffic. In fact, it would seem to dissuade intelligent people from having anything to do with that web site, since it is so insulting to the recipient and such a condemnation of the desirability of the advertised site.

A response to a blog which says “wow, this is the best blog ever, oh, and visit my web site”? Which often seems to be written by a dyslexic monkey? I don’t know about you, but I would never visit a site like that, just because it was tarnished by the existence of this piece of spam. If that is the only way to get visitors, the implication is that it is not worth visiting.

Oh, and spammers, here is a hint – because there is so much spam out there, I suspect most blog sites don’t post replies until they have been ‘approved’. So the only person who sees this drek is the poor person who has to go through the 100’s of replies to find the few which are real. Which slows down the desired conversations.

It’s not hard to spot the spam. The sender will not be a person’s name or ‘handle’, it will be an advertisement in itself. And there will always be a website somewhere in it. But the best indication is that it has nothing to do with the post it is replying to. And even if it does seem related, it is a casual reference and not something which can be useful.

The silliest spam attempts are responses to a blog post which is completely empty except for a picture, saying how well written the post is…