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The Web is changing. In today's world, user participation can make or break a site. Allowing users to react, participate, and contribute while keeping your site under control can be a huge challenge. If poor-quality content or spam hits your website, it can undermine your site's search engine listing, damage your brand and reputation, and degrade your visitors' experience. Good user-contributed content, meanwhile, can add a lot of value to your site, which translates into more activity, improved stickiness, and more and better monetization opportunities. As the Web continues to become more social, more websites will need a strategy to deal with spam and unwanted content.
Given the state of today's publishing world and the decrease in print media revenue, many publishers are looking to their online presence to increase revenue and readership. To engage with new readers and encourage them to contribute comments and content, media houses and content sites are adding social features.
The addition of these social features has brought the problem of spam. Two major challenges arise from trying to control website spam. First, visitors may lose their motivation to comment or contribute content because they are required so often to prove that they are human and not spam by registering. This erodes participation.
Secondly, whether visitors are asked to register or not, site moderation becomes more time-consuming and expensive. Website moderators have to scan comments and other content to find spam instead of interact with the community. And publishing companies have to pay for more site moderators to deal with all the spam on their sites.
NowPublic is a Vancouver-based news network that mobilizes an army of reporters to cover events around the world. During Hurricane Katrina, NowPublic had more reporters in affected areas than most news organizations have on their entire staff. NowPublic was up against as many as 25,000 spam attempts a day, so it needed a solution that would allow the site to grow faster and more effectively without being slowed by comment spam.
A year ago, NowPublic implemented Mollom, a Web service that protects blogs, social networks, and communities against spam and other unwanted content. Within 12 months, the company had become one of the fastest-growing news organizations in the world, with thousands of reporters in more than 140 countries. In addition to this growth in reporters, NowPublic saw an 180% increase in the average number of comments posted per month by users since implementing Mollom's spam-filtering service.
"Integrating Mollom in NowPublic's systems was quick and easy," says Michael Meyers, co-founder and CTO of NowPublic. "It took only a few hours, and the API service has been fast and 100% reliable. By the end of the first month, we saved more in-person hours alone than Mollom cost us for the year."
Mollom has prevented more than one million spam attempts since it started protecting NowPublic. But NowPublic uses Mollom for more than just comment spam. It uses it to identify bogus profiles, vet new account sign-ups, and protect forums.
Mollom, in effect, removed a major barrier to visitor participation for NowPublic, allowing readers to comment anonymously. "Mollom has been a critical ingredient in our success," adds Michael Tippett, co-founder and CMO. "It has allowed us to open our comments to anonymous users while limiting the ability of spammers to vandalize our site. This has helped us grow our page views and truly tap into the wisdom of crowds."
Mollom also allows NowPublic's website maintainers and editors to focus on providing content instead of removing spam. "Since NowPublic began using Mollom," says Jordan Yerman, NowPublic's Contributor Support Manager, "I've saved at least an hour per day dealing with spam in stories, profiles, comments, etc. Thanks to Mollom, I can be more pro-active than reactive. I have more time to engage and interact with our users."
Other major publishers using Mollom to protect their websites from spam are Sony Music, Warner Bros Records, Netlog, The Economist, Fox Interactive, and the New York Observer.
Visit mollom.com to download Mollom's spam filtering service for your website.