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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Disturbing trends in blogging

I think I have a lead on why my number of visitors has dropped lately (other than a possible Google re-indexing that adversely affected me.)

Used to be that I could count on a number of visitors each way who came to me by way of the "Next Blog" button on the Blogger toolbar at the top of most BlogSpot blogs. These visitors could be identified on my Sitemeter because their "Referring URL" would be another BlogSpot blog that otherwise had no connection to my blog. And since they would tend to come immediately after a new entry was posted, I figured that the "Next Blog" button was related to Blogger's list of "Recently Updated Blogs".

Unfortunately, it appears that the long version of the "Recently Updated Blogs" page is currently kaput. (I have reported this to Blogger.com; we'll see if they do anything about it.) So, depending on how the system is set up, "Next Blog" visitors may not be getting directed to my blog the way they used to be.

But that is not to say that "Next Blog" doesn't work anymore. While looking into this problem I took a "Next Blog" random walk through the BlogSpot realm of the blogosphere and confirmed that all of the blogs I was seeing had been updated today. But that's when I noticed something disturbing.

At least half of the blogs weren't really blogs at all. They're lists of key words, or lists of product names, or snippets of random text interspersed with links for "Online Gambling" and "Internet Casino". In some cases they were lists of semi-coherent articles with links that all pointed back to a single site. It's the latest thing in online shilling, a sort of "blog spam" - "blam"? And it's a problem, because these fake blogs are clogging up the blogosphere, taking away space (and "Next Blog" visitors) from legitimate blogs. Plus, I wouldn't be surprised at all if a lot of these "blog sites" are actually virus- and spyware-laden traps. Damn. I'd better disinfect my computer, again. (I just did it a few hours ago.)

The other trends weren't really disturbing. Of the roughly 50% of the blogs that I came across that actually were blogs, at least half were not in English. Which I suppose is a good thing, except for the fact that I can't read any of these other languages.

Oh, and it looks like Lions Gate Entertainment has started creating Directors' Blogs for its upcoming and newly released movies. Whether these are actually written by the actual directors or are ghostwritten for them, I cannot say. For some reason I expected David Duchovny would be a better writer than his blog suggests. But, on the other hand, Rob Zombie ROCKS! His blog reads exactly like I would have expected it to - intelligent, articulate, and fun.

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