Nov 28 2007

Social Spam and MyBlogLog

Published by at 1:25 pm under mybloglog,social media,social networking

Anybody who wants to employ social networking to promote their website or blog needs to understand that members of social sites just simply do not respond to spam. There are many (often unwritten) social rules.

Everybody is sick of spam. Spam emails, spam blog comments, spam blog posts and spam on their profiles. It can seem like a an opportunity ripe for the picking, and be done with all good intentions. But my advice is follow the ekiN principle – JUST DON’T DO IT.

Here’s a classic example of how NOT to use Social Media, from my inbox on StumbleUpon.

Social Media Abuse

What lessons can we learn from these few lines?

  1. Don’t try and be cool if you’re not. “gr8” and “frnd” might be appropriate on MySpace or IM, but it is not cool when it’s spam coming from a stranger who is 32.
  2. It’s nice to have a rapport before you go asking for favours.
  3. What makes you think I’d even be remotely interested in data center solutions?
  4. Don’t sound like a Nigerian scammer.
  5. Don’t pretend you want to be my friend.
  6. Don’t call me “dear” (grrrrr).
  7. Don’t abuse social media to serve your own purpose.

MyBlogLog Facilitates Social Spam

Back at the end of June, MyBlogLog introduced a facility whereby community owners could send out mass messages to their community members. I was rather vocal in my criticism of the facility, and I stand by my opinion that this feature is a nuisance.

MyBlogLog lost its appeal for me back then, and now I rarely visit. Usually, I just visit to clean out the spam on my profile page. The MyBlogLog team seemed of the opinion that joining many communities was a no-no, and having too many friends was a bad thing.

Now, virtually the only time I join a community is via the “automatic add” feature, and the only friends I add are the faces I know. I haven’t used it to discover new blogs since then.

At the time, I was a member of 918 communities, five months later I’ve added just nine more (well, a net addition of nine – as I left quite a few). Whereas once I would have reciprocated friendships, I now have 74 “admirers” (people who have befriended me, who I have not befriended back).

Here’s how I rationalised it back then.

MyBlogLog was really beneficial when I started blogging, because it allowed me to meet and interact with other bloggers and it literally provided me a portal to the blogosphere. I have NEVER made a nuisance of myself, with self promotional “visit my blog” type messages, and a majority of my comments were made privately to blog owners.

I embraced the sense of community, and rewarded bloggers that I felt made an effort with their blogs with a membership of their community. I subscribed to many and visited others from time to time. And I meet some wonderful bloggers who I am still communicating with to this day.

As time went by, and my blog subscriptions climbed, I had to rationalise (as one does) the amount of time devoted to keeping up with many blogs and social networking sites. Perhaps it’s a sense of netiquette that if one joins your community or befriends you, that you, in most cases, reciprocate.

There are many communities that I am a member of, and subscribe to the blog, but rarely feel the need to visit. Does that mean I’m not “qualified” to be a member of that community?

I wouldn’t be offended for a second if members of my “community” didn’t visit my blog. But I would never insult them by sending a self-promotional type message, because I respect their privacy and would never assume for a second that they had consented to receiving this type of mail.

And how does one define “reasonable”? Is a daily, weekly, monthly message reasonable? With no limitations on the amount of messages – the onus is placed on us to do the [community] “leaving”.

And we’re made to feel like WE’RE the ones who have done the wrong thing by embracing the community spirit.

Alex has made similar commentary about the latest MyBlogLog competition.

But now I’m coming to main problem. All arguments by us were countered on MBL blog with one simple question: Why would you join a community you are not interested to follow and receive emails from. Quite frankly a good question and has a good reasoning behind it.

Fast Forward to now… This new contest is beginning to generate a few entries where bloggers reward other people to join their community, so they could Win the the main prize.

But the questions that keep bugging me…

  • Would all those people join it if not for the chance to get rewarded?
  • How does this strategy go with the question posed by MBL stuff to us when we argued the “Community Mass Message Spam” issue?
  • How does MBL manage to work like this: state one thing and then encourage a completely opposite behavior?

It does seem quite hypocritical to me. But then, this Compete graph could provide reasoning enough as to why MyBlogLog are desperately trying to increase buzz.

MyBlogLog on Compete

I think the MyBlogLog traffic drop is evidence that I am not alone in being fed up with social spam.

Have you had enough, or do you think it’s acceptable and par for the course?

31 responses so far

31 Responses to “Social Spam and MyBlogLog”

  1. Alexon 28 Nov 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks for the quote Meg,

    I agree and my patterns of participation in MBL changed dramatically since they introduced the messaging. My biggest gripe is going through my messages and deleting all the spam I find it there and leaving communities that swamp me with them …

    I do like you complete graph :) a tool I used to know and has forgot … thanks for reminder.


  2. Matt Packeron 28 Nov 2007 at 2:48 pm

    I too signed up for MBL a while back, I must admit I’ve spent next to zero time on it coz I kind of don’t se the point of it.. Maybe I need to take another look at it, or just delete it..

  3. Megon 28 Nov 2007 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Alex – you’re welcome :). It is a pain. I still believe there should be a facility to opt in or out of receiving the messages at all, community by community, if need be.

    Hi Matt – It is a useful tool when you first start blogging and a good way of discovering new blogs (and also getting a bit of exposure for your own). You might like to try the Australian blogs community at Bumpzee – they’re a friendly bunch.

  4. Snoskredon 28 Nov 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Ok well here’s one for you. It was one of the other social networks very similar to mybloglog.

    I got a message that someone joined my community, then I got a message that they sent me a private message. I went over to check it out and coincidentally it was shortly after my page rank got dropped to 0. The message said –

    If you want to try to increase you page rank please read my “Trying to increase your page rank”, and if you want to participate in what I have planned please drop me a comment.

    So I went on over to read what was written there and it wasn’t much that could help anyone, just basically trying to tell people to link exchange to increase their page rank so they could get better jobs for a company i wont mention the name of just in case it gets you into trouble and I’ll change the words in the comments I made as well. So I thought I’d do this chick a favour and let her know what was going on with the page ranks of people who were working for that company and other companies like it. I commented on her post as follows. –

    I hate to be the one to say it, but if you are a p0sty there seems to be no point in increasing your page rank, Google has set all p0stys ranks back to 0. You might want to check the p0sty forums for more info on that.

    She replied with stunning stupidity –

    This guy is full of it. The higher the PR you are the more opportunities to get paid on p0stys. My sister-in-law is a blogger and she had a PR of 3.

    Whoa! (checks between legs) I ain’t a guy! So I replied with a long post which I won’t put here but at the end it said –

    I came to your blog because you contacted me on (social networking site) to tell me about your page rank article. I only commented so you could be sure of giving the correct information to people.

    Sorry for trying to help! 😉 I won’t do it again seeing as I got told I am full of it. This is not a good example how to make friends with social networking – invite them to your site and when they comment tell them they are wrong without checking it out for yourself to make sure they are wrong!

    I went back to try and find the post today and it had been deleted entirely!

    So she spammed me to get me to visit her site, then when I got there she abused me, and after all that work she did spamming people with a link to her article she deleted the article.

    I’m pretty much over the sites. I had to take the widgets off because they were slowing down the page load too much when I had a lot of traffic and I’m not all that sure I want to put them back up really.

    Mybloglog made me get a yahoo account, which annoyed me greatly also.


  5. Lighteningon 28 Nov 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Well I don’t have anything constructive to say. Just posting this comment as part of my “social networking” campaign. LOL. I’m kidding. Is it safe to joke when I’ve only been a regular reader and commenter for such a short time? :-)

    Hmmm…..I’ve never even heard of mybloglog (at least I don’t *think* I have). Goes to show what a clueless blogger I really am!!!! LOL. If it weren’t for reading you and Snoskred, I’d be even more clueless!!!!

  6. Megon 28 Nov 2007 at 7:00 pm

    Snos – wow, what a worry! That’s surely one way NOT to build a community. By the way, I followed the clues to that blog, you reckon it could be any busier?!

    Lightening – you are most welcome to joke, I always appreciate your quips and humour 😀

    It took me a little while to find out about MBL as well, but I kept seeing those faces in the sidebar of many blogs so curiosity got the better of me!

  7. Luke Razzellon 28 Nov 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Interesting post, Meg. Out of interest, how are you finding Blog Friends as a social blog discovery tool?

  8. Leeon 28 Nov 2007 at 7:11 pm

    I’m so glad to hear someone else voice the same concerns and now apathy towards mybloglog – I really liked it when I first started there (ages and ages ago) but then I was a little too quick listing a couple of people as authors on one of the multi author blogs I edit and there is no way to remove them and when asked about it by several people the answer was silence from the mybloglog people.

    I do however like still seeing who’s visiting my site and it often reminds me to go back and visit theirs so I’m not pulling the plug quite yet.

  9. Megon 28 Nov 2007 at 7:52 pm

    Luke – I actually don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, but I think it is certainly one of the more useful applications (for me anyway). I know that I have clicked on posts of friends’ friends before. It seems like it’s had an overhaul.

    Lee – I think that’s how I found your blog all those months ago! I remember there was a bit of a debacle back in February about co-authors, I know you can remove yourself, but it seems crazy you can’t get somebody else removed if it’s no longer relevant.

    It is nice seeing the familiar faces on the sidebar.

  10. Lighteningon 28 Nov 2007 at 9:28 pm

    Oh that’s good. It’s not always easy to understand someone else’s attempt at humour when it’s in writing so I thought I’d better be ultra clear/careful. :-)

  11. Snoskredon 28 Nov 2007 at 10:10 pm

    Meg – well done! I never thought anyone would be able to work that out.. hehe

    Yeah it is one of the uglier blogs out there that’s for sure. And oddly enough a lot of mis-spellings. But that could be due to the ZILLION posts each day. When you’ve got quantity who needs spelling? 😉

    I put the thingys back on today but not bumpzee. I am so disappointed in their widget. It kept killing my page load. ;(


  12. Megon 28 Nov 2007 at 10:15 pm


    Super slueth 😀

    As much as I love promoting the Bumpzee community, the widget is too unreliable. I took it off ages ago, and just didn’t get around to re-loading it.

  13. Allanon 28 Nov 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Hi Meg,

    Great post! I only found MBL a little while ago, and have found it ok until now, but then, I haven’t ventured very far into it either!

    I’m amazed that some people have time to get anything else done, as they seem to spend so much time on these sites!

    Do you find bumpzee to be a better site? I joined there as well, but went with MBL!


  14. alyndabearon 28 Nov 2007 at 10:16 pm

    I never got into the social networks, but just recently joined the Bumpzee & Ning ones. Don’t know much about the others.. but I have enough spam as it is, thankyouverymuch!

  15. cerebralmumon 28 Nov 2007 at 10:22 pm

    I have to say, I’m still searching for decent social networking sites. Of all the ones of come across they mostly seem like time sinks with everybody there just to get something and no community created. Having just moved my blog to a different domain, it’s horrible to see some of the connections I slowly and painstakingly built disappear so it is something I would like to work on but the only community I have found worthwhile is Bumpzee, where I found several bloggers I read and some of them visit in return. Like Snoskred, I had widgets and removed them because they bulked up the site and had little value. MyBlogLog I didn’t even touch because it even just looked spammy to me, which makes sense looking at the time frame of the changes you listed.

    I know there is a lot of work to be put into social networking for me, and sometimes I feel like I’m on the outside, but in the end, it’s the work you put in that pays off, not just signing up.

  16. […] I’ve found a great article about spam on social networking sites! […]

  17. kimon 29 Nov 2007 at 6:55 am

    Hi. Meg I joined mbl because I wanted the widget, lol I haven’t been bothered with spam there. I wonder if that is because I never check my yahoo email oops.. Or because I am just too small.

    cheers Kim

  18. Megon 29 Nov 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Allan – I agree they can suck you into a time vacuum.

    I do like Bumpzee (particularly the Australian Community), because it allows communication and networking between people with a common interest – so it’s more community focussed. i.e. In MBL you join MY community, but with bumpzee you join A community (or more), and it’s better for discovering blogs from a geographic region, or blogs with in a similar niche. It also has the discussion feature which (although probably underutilised) is good. It also has a different culture and is extremely quick to jump on spammers.

    MBL is more 1 to 1, and they attempted to bring the 1 to many feature in, but it fell flat. Probably because it was never designed that way to start with, and it’s kind of hard to make the switch.

    Thanks for the shout too :)

    alyndabear – I think the networks you’ve joined are good for building up a close knit community around your blog.

    Cerebralmum – yeah, I don’t think I’d actively encourage MBL for people looking to build relationships, it’s become a very spammy place. I do quite like the widget though, it puts a “face” to the people who visit.

    Kim – echo the widget sentiment :) If you’re not overly active or in many communities you probably won’t get too much spam.

  19. Tanyaon 29 Nov 2007 at 12:29 pm


    I have added you to my list of blogs that I like, I hope this is ok and was just asking if you minded?



  20. Megon 29 Nov 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Hi Tanya – nice to meet you and your blog and thanks 😀 Of course I don’t mind 😉

  21. Phil Butleron 29 Nov 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Hi Meg!

    This is a very good post. I admire your passion for the Web and also appropriate respect for other people. I expect I have spammed (sort of) you unintentionally on a social network or two over the course. I am very sorry if I did – my only excuse initially would be stupidity and later on out of my own efforts to actually try to respond to literally everyone (which is impossible I know).

    As for MBL – like Propeller it is of little use other than to see if you have a message or take a quick look at traffic. I expect many of the networks are headed this way for the reasons you mention about MBL and also ironically because of the antithesis of this.

    What I mean is: “What is a contact or a friend” essentially. If the term is a misnomer or a hollow term – then this too deflates much of the purpose for us all being here. From my perspective (which is not necessarily the right one) being a contact or friend means being tolerant and communicative to a degree (to be determined I suppose).

    I do not know what the answer is as far as making a better little universe for us to share, but I do know that you are right about abuse and everyone should abide by the wishes of friends who do not want to be contacted over trivial things. Personally, I remember you messaging me that it wss getting pretty “thick” with this sort of thing – and I have (I think) made a note not to burden you so.

    You are one of the best Meg! The Internet is a little better (and many of us better off) because of you. I think being so prolific and good at what you do comes with some aggravation tho.



  22. Svetlana Gladkovaon 29 Nov 2007 at 6:16 pm

    Meg, that’s one of the best discussions of the social spam I’ve ever read. Same as at the time MBL introduced the community messaging feature, I still believe it is not really spamming me that much as I only join communities automatically – thus I just don’t belong to many.
    For me social spamming is mostly concentrated on Facebook more than anything else. The most annoying thing for me is when I am invited to join various FB apps to rate something, compare someone or review something. You know, I try to use FB for business networking thus I only have the apps that are used for business. And I often get invites from my friends to join absolutely unwanted apps. I used to be uncomfortable about clicking Ignore on apps invitations and friend requests. But then I realized that not ignoring some apps and some people will result in tons of new spam.
    Anyway whenever people start to see there’s traffic on this or that social network, at least some of them start to abuse. But I do believe there is such thing as a balanced approach: you know, when you are genuinely interested in a network and participate/contribute willingly and maybe even with passion, it will not harm to contact some of the closest people on the network when you need certain help. I’m sure you will be willing to reciprocate when they need help so no harm, I believe. Though the line between the balanced approach and abuse is too easily crossed, of course.

  23. kimon 29 Nov 2007 at 10:29 pm

    hiya again, As a ‘small blogger’ and also as a new blogger, I have a very limited time frame , that I can spend on the net.. I was thrilled to bits, when I first found your blog Meg.. because it was Australian and because I could use the bumpzee platform to link to other Australian blogs. I think I commented then with a YAY or a YIPPEE…

    please keep up the good work, I have a rss linky thingy to you. and I check your site daily..ooops sorry that I am not much of a commenter..
    cheers xox kim

  24. Megon 29 Nov 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Hey Phil

    Thanks for your comment.

    Firstly, this post certainly wasn’t aimed at you! There is a difference between contact between “friends” and requests or junk from complete strangers. It does get to be a fine line between being friendly, and being a nuisance!

    I guess a “friend” or “contact” means different things on different sites. I know I have become a lot more selective with friends on say Facebook and Twitter, than I ever was on MBL or SU (though I’m finding that I have to rationalise with SU because I’m at my limit of 200). And LinkedIn is different kettle of fish too.

    It’s hard to know what’s appropriate for each website. But when I find myself getting overwhelmed with, say, “pages to a friend” on SU, I suppose if I respect the person/people enough I’d rather say “hey can you ease up” than just “unfriending” them!

    Many thanks for your very generous and kind words.

    Hi Svetlana

    Thank you too. I think the biggest problem with MBL is they changed the rules mid-game and didn’t really provide an easy way to “opt-out”. There are many, many communities that use this function responsibly and I am interested in their messages, but when you can’t filter out the junk it gets frustrating. When we’re close enough to information overload, the absence of that option is pretty inexcusable.

    Yes, FB is a tough one. As I mentioned, I try and be pretty selective about my friends, but it gets frustrating with all the invitations to causes, entourages, vampires, movie quizzes etc. I understand that a lot of people find them fun, but I just don’t have time for most of them. I’m hoping the novelty will wear off 😉

    I agree that balance is the key. I’m happy to be approached genuinely, it’s sorting through the crap that is frustrating!

    Hey Kim

    Thanks mate :) I read so many blogs, and would love to be more of an active commenter, so I appreciate what you’re saying. Just so you know, you are most welcome to lurk, but equally welcome to comment. And I have subscribed to your rss thingy too 😉

  25. angesbizon 30 Nov 2007 at 12:40 am

    Hi Meg,

    You do great work here! I just wanted to let you know that I got that exact same message in my SU inbox. I reacted the same way you did… I guess they messed with the wrong Meg as it’s all out in the open now.

    I must admit, that I am a bit of a softy at times when other stumblers approach me but I am learning fast with all these great articles that are being posted of what is acceptable within social networks. I think I have only ever sent out one or two messages to my community at MBL. I don’t like to spam and to prefer private messages if I have something to share.

  26. Megon 30 Nov 2007 at 10:02 am

    Hi Ange

    Thanks. I’m sure that message did the rounds, but I didn’t name names, at least.

    I’m happy to help out people when you feel they are genuine and not being too overwhelming, as Svetlana mentions, I think the key is to find a balance. I like the private messages, but the community messages have really detracted from that feature. Thanks for stopping by and congrats for making the top 100 :)

  27. theAtypicalon 30 Nov 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Hi Meg,
    New reader, huge admirer.

    I’m still quite new onto the “community of bloggers” sites. I remember I was part of “BlogMad” but that died out pretty fast.

    I agree with most of your points, but I do see why it is that people want to “sell” themselves. For little more than about two minutes writing the initial message, you can copy and paste that and deliver your *interesting and poignant* message to about hundreds of people within another minute. The only thing that stops the likes of you and me, it would seem, is humility and self-respect. 😛

    “Would all those people join it if not for the chance to get rewarded?”
    I read because I get bored. I joined MBL because I wanted to find a forum for like minded individuals. I want to read what other people, like or unlike me, think.

    If the place has become mitigated by spammers, then it’s just another seedy spot on the Internet. Have you ever noticed that? So long as you allow the option of user based content – there will be abuse of it. Economists define a “public good” as a good that is non rival and non excludable. That means, goods of this nature can be used/consumed by all (non excludable) and one person’s effect will not affect another’s using or consumption (non rival). Unfortunately, that isn’t quite the case for Internet websites, because the larger and more inane the footprint, someone leaves and the more repetitious these prints become, the more turned off consumers are. Which leads me to my point: have you ever noticed that when a website becomes TOO POPULAR, there’s just 95% junk and 5% quality? Case in point: Youtube (although I’m pretty sure it’s about 99.9% v 0.1%).

    Of course, there are methods of controlling it. Creating a local culture of activism against spammers, with dictatorial rule to those entrusted with power: Wikipedia.

    Just my 2 bit. :)

  28. Megon 30 Nov 2007 at 9:54 pm


    Nice intro, thanks 😀

    Sure there are some people who just write for themselves, or a handful of family and friends. But I guess for a large portion of bloggers (I stop myself saying the majority), the feeling would be – if I’m going to spend so much time writing, someone may as well be reading it. Or, alternatively, I really want to make money from this and traffic = $$ (not that I begrudge people making money from blogging). And there begins the quest for readers.

    As you say, what stops the likes of you and I is “humility and self-respect”. To that I would also add (from my perspective) respect for other participants, “do unto others…” mentality. Also there are some people who seem to think that every blog post they write is just excellent, or bound to be of interest to you, when the reality is that very few bloggers achieve that. I write stuff that I think is good, yet is hardly raises a comment (so is more than likely crap). I write stuff that I think is crap, and yet it “does well” on bookmarking sites and the like. Go figure. The point is it really is the opinion of the individual reader, which is why I never like to “push” my stuff.

    Conversely, if no one ever finds it (ie you don’t “sell” yourself) then there’s no feedback as to whether it’s crap or utter brilliance.

    And then, as you say, it’s filtering through the 99% of crap to find the brilliance. Exit MBL. That’s where finding peers, whose opinion and recommendations you trust, comes in handy – they help sort through the crap. But of course being in that environment leaves you open to the “abuse” from others.

    Thanks for your thoughts, and sparking the old grey matters late on a Friday 😀

  29. Bill Austinon 01 Dec 2007 at 1:54 am

    This article is right on – the spam problem on MBL has exploded out of control while at the same time, the value of participating has dropped precipitously.

    People who matter are no longer participating and people who participate are not looking for anything other than self promotion.

  30. Megon 01 Dec 2007 at 11:30 am

    Hi Bill – I think you summed that up nicely and succinctly.

  31. Tanyaon 22 Jan 2008 at 10:30 am

    bloody spam.

    I work for an internet provider, people get so sick of v1agra and pen1s enlargement.

    I get sick of ’emails’ from ‘friends’ who actually say

    ‘Hi Tanya,

    Blah blah blah, junk junk junk…’

    Do they sit there and type your name in or is it automated????????????

    and still I fall for it, thinking, oh I must know this person…nope. Cause my friends wouldn’t send me an offer on penis enlargement, because they know that since I am a woman, maybe I don’t need one of those?