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Articles - Fight Guest Book and Public Forum Spam!

Guest Books and online discussion boards are great methods of obtaining feedback from web site visitors. Unfortunately, a number of idiots use these public feedback mechanisms for more devious means. We had the web site of one of these idiots shut down a couple of days ago. More on that a little later in this article.

A very basic method that people use to promote their web sites is through guest books, forums and feedback pages. They leave a comment, and also the URL of their site, in the hope that people reading the entry will investigate the link. That isn't so much of a problem if the subject of the site is appropriate. With many search engines also boosting page rankings of sites based on the number of links that refer to that particular site, this practice is on the increase.

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And this is where the  spam problem begins....

Most of us run web sites that are for general viewing. We have visitors as young as 12 using our site on a regular basis. Our online destination is a relatively safe place for young people, and we want to keep it that way. That means constant monitoring of our guest book and forums.

In recent months, I have removed many links in my guest book which refer to sites that contain pornographic and scam material. While I respect the right of people to view what they wish to on the Internet, there are limitations. Especially when references to "that" content appear on OUR site - and even more so when they involve child pornography.

Last week, a guest book entry included a link to a site referencing child pornography. We were sickened by the discovery.

Enough was enough! 

I had included a statement a month ago in the guest book warning spammers that I would remove inappropriate links from the guest book - obviously it wasn't stated strongly enough. We contacted the free web host, Tripod, that were unwittingly hosting this site. To their credit, Tripod shut down the site immediately and is continuing investigations.

We also revised our guest book in line with the new anti-spam initiative we have launched. We hope other web masters will join the new free service we are providing. For details:

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ antispam/antispam.htm

In around 90% of incidents relating to inappropriate links in public feedback pages; the majority lead to free hosting services members' pages. Most free hosts that I know of do not permit pornographic, hate, piracy and pinup sites to be published to their servers and are happy to remove such pages. Many of the fools that create these web sites do so in the hope of creating some fast bucks through the affiliate programs offered by adult industry sites. As far as I am aware, the online adult industry as represented by it's various official organisations forbids this kind of promotion by affiliates.

As for the child porn industry - well, those low-life, blood sucking invertebrates can ALL rot in hell!!! They are parasites, leeches, nothing more... they suck out the lives of innocent young people to line their pockets. They are a blight on this wonderous communications medium - the World Wide Web

Join us in fighting the spammmers!

The incident on our site last week has spurred us on to create a new program that web masters can join for free. We are now making it a priority to chase public feedback page spammers who abuse our member sites and will support other web masters in this cause. We look forward to teaming up with all those interested in joining our initiative - for more information:

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ antispam/antispam.htm

As web masters, we have the pleasure of watching visitors use and benefit from our sites, but also the very serious responsibility of being responsible for what is contained on them. While we may post "exclusion of liability" and "terms of service" notices on our sites, that does not absolve us from the task of monitoring our content. In the future, there may also be legal implications, regardless of the disclaimers we use.

Do you want to be part of the problem, or part of the solution? Deleting these links is not enough. Even though the sites may be shut down only to spring up again, at least we can cut off this avenue of their promotion and keep our guest books and forums for the purposes they were intended.

Let's do our bit in cleaning up the Internet! We look forward to your participation; for details:

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ antispam/antispam.htm

"We're mad as hell and we aren't going to take it any more!"

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
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