Some people in the marketing community complain that Google has no right to police the web, that the Internet is an open place where anything goes. People complain that Google is ruining their lives when an algorithm change goes live that wipes out their network of spam blogs. But that’s not the topic of this post.
I want to highlight something I saw today that angered me, and make a bid for all of us to be good Internet citizens and police the places that we see that deserve to be kept clean. Just like it is – I think – our responsibility to pick up trash around our neighborhoods and not put gum underneath chairs for others to put their fingers in, it is also our responsibility to clear out spam when we see it so that the Internet stays, for the most part, an inviting place to be.
Let me show you an example.
Albino Killer Whales
Today I was on my iPad, flipping through Flipboard like I do each morning while drinking coffee. While browsing through FlipPhotos, which shows amazing shots from around the world, I came across a photo from National Geographic about a potential albino killer whale. I’m not oceanographer, but this seemed pretty cool and it was an amazing photo, so I clicked through to read the article, which you can see a screenshot of here:
I read the article, which was pretty interesting even though the title was a bit of clickbait. I read to the very bottom and then scrolled down a bit to see what was happening below the article. Much to my chagrine, I saw this:
Right. Awesome. Thanks bgvfdusa8. Free shipping and Nike Shox have so much to do with albino killer whales, as do those links to your site.
I’m not trying to out anyone here – and I won’t link to the plethora of anti-outing people who have publicly outed people – but this kind of thing simply has no place on the Internet, in my opinion.
I’m not going to go so far as to say that we should all disable comments, though (link 1) good arguments (link 2) have been made (link 3) to that effect. Instead, I want to call for a higher degree of activism online when it comes to spam. Algorithms and programs are not perfect, and therefore spam will still exist until Internet citizens – that includes you – rise up and police the web ourselves, deleting or flagging comments when they are obviously spam.
Part of being a good Internet citizen is also allowing free speech, of course. So I plead with you to not mark worthwhile comments that happen to be counter your beliefs as spam, but rather to engage with the discussions and points made. With great power comes great responsibility, but I tend to think that humans are relatively good and decent.
So mark blog spam as what it is – spam. Mark Twitter DM or Mention spam as what it is – spam. Let’s not get into a “what is spam” conversation (UrbanDictionary has the best definition I’ve ever seen), as that is ultimately futile. I think we all know what spam is when we see it.
Let’s make the Internet a better place for all.