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Blogger adds features to fight spam

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This week, bloggers that use Blogger or Blogspot for their blogs were treated to three additional features to help make their blogging experiences more enjoyable. One of the new features is causing quite a stir, but the other two are quite welcomed and do indeed make the site easier to use.

The first new addition to the site came in the form of new software that could be added on to user’s Microsoft Word in order to post straight from their word processing program to their blog. Blogger for Word is a free add-on that works with Microsoft Word 2000 and up. The program is a quick download and easy to install. It allows you to post new updates straight from your MS Word and edit the fifteen most recent entries in the blog itself. Since I already use another program to update my blog, I might not personally use this method, but for those looking for something or use MS Word to write their entries in the first place, this little add-on might be just the thing to look at it.

The second new feature is just coming to light in the last day or so, and the feature has created quite the stir through blog land already since bloggers began to take notice. The feature is flagging, and those that add new content or change their blog in anyway needing re-publishing will now find a button on their blog’s navbar called Flag.

With this button, blog readers can mark blogs that carry illegal or objectionable content. Blogger will keep track of the blogs flagged, and when their is enough flags to warrant an inspection, Blogger will check the blog for content and take action necessary. That action at the moment looks to be only to remove objectionable blogs from their listings only, and not complete deletion.

Bloggers across blog land are talking about this feature because what might be objectionable to one person might not be objectionable to another. Someone that hates cats might object to a blog in which someone writes daily blogs with stories of their friendly felines. Some are screaming censorship, while even others are applauding the addition to the service.

Blogger added the new flag feature in hopes of cutting down on the number of splogs or spam blogs. Those spammers that do have blogs and spam users can then be flagged by those users. Enough flags can help Blogger find these blogs and take actions necessary.

Personally, I think if the flags work towards the ridding of the number of spam blogs out there, then I am all for it. Just this week, IceRocket.com and other search engines threatened to remove Blogspot blogs from their listings due to the high amount of spam blogs residing on the popular site.

The last new feature added just yesterday is another feature made to fight spam. This in the form of spam commenters. Everyone knows spam in blog comments is a problem. Some services are automated, commenting entries at will, sometimes as soon as the entry is posted. Up to this point on Blogger, the only thing one could do is delete the offending comment. Now, there is a new feature in place to stop the comments from even happening. All a user needs to do is turn it on and re-publish their blog.

Captchas is the name of this new feature, and it essentially puts one of those little word verification images on entries comments forcing the user leaving a comment to enter the text shown on the image. This is similar to systems in place on other systems, and doesn’t add all that much work for the commenter. Just a short text string needs to be added. However, this should essentially stop spammers from being able to comment since most spammers are automated. They won’t be able to enter the text string, and the comment will not be posted.

I applaud Blogger for adding this feature. Just this week, Blogger had a user survey up asking what the users wanted added in the way of new features. My request was to put something in place to stop spam comments. I haven’t had much of a problem with it myself, but I know of plenty of other users that I read on a daily basis that have this problem. I never thought something would be in place so soon. Usually it takes months for things to be added when new features are requested on any service. This addition will help bloggers get more use out of their blog without having to spend time deleting offending comment after offending comment.

Not bad for a free service in my opinion. Some are mentioning moving services following the addition of the flagging feature, but I know I’m sticking around. The new flag and captcha features probably won’t totally stop the spam problems on Blogspot, but they are definitely a step in the right direction.

To read more about these features straight from Blogger, head on over to Blogger’s own blog here.

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About Gina

  • I like the thought behind the requirement of putting a text string verification process in place. But, yet, it is flawed. As a blind user, I can no longer post comments on these blogs. The text strings are images, and thus are not picked up by screen reading software (Window Eyes, Jaws for Windows, etc.). Only with sighted assistnace can I now make any posts. Until there is some alternative means to make this accessible, I hope the feature is left unused by most bloggers.

    Just some food for thought.

  • That has been mentioned as one of the drawbacks to this new feature. Seems no matter what you do something won’t work for every user.

  • Kewl! I wasn’t aware these changes had taken place. Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

  • They were just put in place this week! You’re welcome.

  • I think these new features are pretty interesting. I really hope people don’t abuse the Flag feature. Things could get quite ugly if angry liberals/conservatives start flagbombing conservative/liberal blogs that are on blogspot. Also, I wonder how Blogger for Word will affect the use of programs like w.bloggar. I use that program, in conjunction with Microsoft Word, to post stuff to my blog. Blogger for Word eliminates the middle man.

  • The problem for blind people is easily solved if you remember that they can still email the blog authors.

  • I just turned on this feature for my blog, after a dump of 12 spam messages in the space of ten minutes. But since I always link over to Blogcritics for comments anyway, the occasional blind reader still has a way to add two cents…

  • After spending some time on Google’s blog spam list I finally got the issue with my blog cleared up with them today. Not sure what caused the issue, maybe because I blogged a few articles that I liked from Digg?

    I guess I’m one of the false positives.