Friday, April 5, 2013

"Don't be evil"? Yeah, about that...

OK, so moderation as a way to deal with spam - has more drawbacks than I'd realised.

First, it means I have to log in regularly to see what's awaiting moderation. But at the same time, I don't get the joy of coming to my blog and seeing the number of comments below a post has increased - so I don't get the same joy of anticipation at visiting my own page, so I don't come here so often, and I actually log in less frequently.

Second, it does nothing to reduce the actual volume of spam that gets posted. All it means is that it doesn't get published. I still have to read the stuff.

That leaves - 'word verification'. Which, thanks to Google's incredibly backward system, I can't even apply selectively - it applies to every commenter, whether logged in or not.

When did Google abandon the fight against spam? And why? - what do they get out of encouraging spam on their own blogs? I've suspected for a while now that they tacitly encourage it in e-mail, as a way of driving more people to use Gmail (with its legendary spam-filtering mojo - basically, it makes life more difficult for their rivals). But on blogs?

Is it a way of increasing activity ("more comments, more views per post")? The Google I used to know - back in 2001, when I emailed them and they actually wrote back - would never have taken such a shortsighted view.

Someday, I hope someone will write a history of Google that can pinpoint the moment, the management decision, where they actively decided that "don't be evil" was a fine motto for a startup, but impractical for a big business. It's a lesson that might tell us something about what kinds of company structure we should encourage, and which we should hunt down with pitchforks and torches.