Exploring The Dark Side of Crowdsourcing, which shined light on some shady startups. The article discussed the potential downfalls of social media and web 2.0, or at least the seedier activities - e.g. black markets for social news votes, or fake commercial comments on blogs. Usually the intentions of these companies are not in the best interest of ordinary Internet users. Let's check them out... and btw we are using the 'nofollow' link attribute so these companies don't get any further search engine juice!This list is a group of companies we wish would just go away. Their basis is controversial to say the least. Recently, Wired published an article
Recently we profiled this company. I think the following statement on the front page of the company website sums them up:
"Finally you can purchase quality blog comments without the stress of finding someone to write the comments, or buying some high priced automated program. We specialize in selling blog comments for blackhatters who are looking for good quality backlinks."
In other words, the company is looking to add further comment spam to blogs.
These sites are essentially creating a black market for 'votes' on social news sites like digg and StumbleUpon. By bringing together advertisers and paid 'voters', these ill-intentioned startups are attempting to artificially inflate the popularity of advertiser links. This not only degrades the quality of content, but also ruins the overall user experience at social media websites.
These two tools help website owners automatically turn RSS feeds into website content. If used legitimately, they can be useful. But more often than not, these tools are used to steal other peoples content with the intention of financial gain.
This is a huge issue in the blogosphere. Often blog content is repurposed illegitimately. Because search traffic and incoming links drive page views, this translates to unearned ad revenue at the expense of the original publisher.
Any black-hat SEO oufit or link farm
These illegitimate outlets are engaging in illicit SEO techniques by gaming the search engines and artificially inflating PageRanks. This means less relevant search engine results for the user and more traffic for the cheater. The upshot is useless SEO-tailored landing pages and added Internet clutter.
Search engines are in a constant battle to stay on top of the game, especially Google (as the biggest search engine). But black-hatters are always nipping at their heels, finding new ways to beat the algorithms and make the web a less desirable place.
Finally, we come to MySpace. Note: we don't classify MySpace in the same category as the scum above, but nevertheless this king of social networks has committed many design sins. Tiled backgrounds, flashing text, and cluttered layouts. Did I mention illegible text and comment SPAM? MySpace has basically morphed into Geocities 2.0.
Obviously, some of you will disagree with the companies listed above. Tell us why in the comments below. And who else do you think should be on the list?