Google, does this really look like a spam blog to you?

(Don't know the original source of this illustration, but it comes from Wilson Library Reserve and Periodicals at the University of Minnesota Libraries.)


Thanks to all of you who emailed or posted comment of moral support and advice via email and facebook. Don't know if it's coincidental, but Google unlocked The Writing Corner today, after I wrote Trudy Cederman at 7:35 last night. It was no easy task to find a real person at Google, but she was the listed contact on a sign-up form for a usability study serendipitously posted five hours earlier--just a day after I noticed my blog was locked. I had also tweeted @blogger.

WTF? It's hard to use new media for journalism when Blogger's bots or perhaps a malicious complaint can freeze you up for 48 hours or more as a "spam blog." One wonders, dear readers, whatever algorithm Google possibly could develop which would make the Writing Corner appear rife with " irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site." (Imagine the preceding sentence in the voice of Ms. Manners.)

I had been to my blog last on September 22, when Heather McHugh won a McArthur genius grant. Upon going to my dashboard two days later to finish the post, I found myself locked out and alarmed by the warning that failure to respond would result in my blog's deletion in 20 days (What if I had taken a trip to the land beyond internet--it does exist--the former "don't be evil" corporation would delete years of work on the advice of a robot?)

After requesting that lock be removed, Google flashed this message on my screen:
Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.
We received your unlock request on September 24, 2009. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam.
My friend Joe in Texas quipped on fb:
your blog is probably not a spam blog since tou are anactual person reading this"...but since we arent actual people or at least our bosses arent actual people we cant give you a good idea when this will be resolved. Bear with us while we attempt to reach senior management who are in bankruptcy proceedings. Your call will be answered in the order it was received unless after an hour we decide you are a blam spog.
This call is being monitored for quality assurance.

Thank you for choosing us..we are sorry you didnt have much choice.
Of course, I do have a choice, and backed everything up to wordpress. I would consider moving there permanently, but it appears to me that Google, however unfairly, gives a higher rank to its own Blogger platform. Besides, I already had to migrate from Yahoo in January 2008 which stopped supporting its platform (which I used because I was familiar w. the email program and started blogging "accidentally" when my friend John Dufresne went on vacation and I had no place to post the links I had saved for his blog.) Since part of page rank depends on longevity, I'm loathe to move again to wordpress.com, although I've backed up the yahoo entries, so maybe it wouldn't be a problem? Friends advised I get my own domain, but honestly, I'm a writer, with no staff, and John has his blog at his own domain wiped out since I started reading him.

Please do not take this semi-rant as a defense of spam. McAffee reports that spam email numbers an estimated worldwide total of 62 trillion messages in 2008--Since the average greenhouse gas (GHG) emission associated with a single message is equivalent to driving three feet, the total is
like driving around the Earth 1.6 million times
(Warning: to get this report, I had to register with information which I fear while mean that McAfee will be sending me its own spam asking be to buy its anti-spam products.)

And perhaps the tackiest thing are the firms asking legitimate blogs to write paid reviews, but keep it on the QT that said reviews are bought and paid for. When I was cleaning out my own spam folder (an activity in aggregate that accounts for much of the carbon footprint according to that McAfee study) I found a note from "Joy" from SeoBlogReviews.com.
I would like to know if by any chance you would be interested in getting paid to publish reviews of products and websites on your blog http://bethwellington.blogspot.com/.

If you are interested please let us know the amount of money you want in order to publish a review by clicking the following link:


As soon as you do that we'll start sending you paid review proposals from our customers.


The SeoBlogReviews.com Team
And those spam blogs (splogs) which Blogger is attempted to eradicate accounted, even back in 2006, for 75% of the pings being transmitted to search engines, according to researchers at the University of Maryland.

And another technique is spam comments, a few of which have landed here.
The latest was "Rumela" of AsianRooms who left a comment on my post on Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and his connections to the coal industry and how that may doom clean water . The quote was so oddly out of character I looked it up and found s/he actually quotes Cecil. guess is Rumela googled coal and Roberts. My guess is that ol' "Rumela" googled "coal" and "Roberts." Here's a friendly mnemonic:

Anyway, if any of my readers can figure out why this looks like a splog, I'd like to know. Meanwhile, I wait to see if I hear back from Google. I'm not holding my breath. Nor am I counting on Ms. Cederman to include me in her usability survey--although I'd love to be included...

Update: Trudy from Google emailed me
Sep 29, 2009 at 1:45 p.m. to let me know that she had passed my
email to the team so that they can investigate the issues.
At her request, I have deleted her email address from this post.