Posted February 20, 2007 8:25 am by with 11 comments

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I feel bad for the guys at MyBlogLog. Ever since being acquired by Yahoo, they’ve not exactly had a comfy ride. Things escalated this weekend, with reports that spammers had found an exploit that allowed them to add themselves as “co-authors” on as many communities as they wished.

Saturday evening, a member discovered an exploit where you could send someone a request to join their community as a co-author and then automatically approve the request.  In other words, someone (dare I call them a jackass) could force you to be a co-author of their community.  I have no idea why they would do this, other than a negligible bump in marketing, but who ever said jackasses made sense?

To their credit, they’ve reacted well and today announced new steps to improve the community and hopefully reduce the amount of spam. Future features include:

  • We’re going to post an official Terms of Service (ToS) and hold people accountable.
  • By default, you now see only message from your own contacts.
  • We will include the text of the comment and associated controls (delete,reply, etc) in the alert email.
  • We will limit users to only five requests for co-authors a day.
  • We will limit users to join 15 communities and add 15 contacts during any day.
  • After the first five are complete, we will set up a comment approval system

All of the above will be welcomed by those who are active MBL users, but I think MBL faces a bigger issue than spam. I for one have taken off the widget that loads images of the most recent visitors to the site. While I’m still tracking visitors and using avatars on comments, the widget was just too slow to load. It’s a real shame, because I believe it was the widget that made MBL grow so fast, but it’s also their achilles heel.

I’m hoping they’ll figure out a way to speed up the load times and provide better customization of the widget – maybe iFrames are the answer here. In any event, the MBL guys need to tap into Yahoo’s (in)finite resources to get these updates done quickly. MBL did well, because it was unique, but I’m already hearing about new services that might challenge them, so they’d do well to keep ahead of the curve. 

  • Dealing with spam really is a pain the…neck. I still can’t believe that spam works often enough that it remains a lucrative business. I wrote a piece about comment spam this morning.

  • Almost all of the slowdown on our end can be attributed to two things: Amazon’s hosting (which is also going through growing pains) and still being on our budget hosting boxes. Both will be solved by transitioning over to Yahoo’s infrastructure, but unfortunately it’s not an overnight process.

    As Andy beard points out, though, it’s quite often the page layout that’s the killer and not the widget. As long as the content is up on the screen, the load time is a bit of a non-issue.

  • Eric, but I’m not about to start moving my CSS around to accommodate a widget. 🙂 6-9 seconds to load a widget, is too long, regardless of how it loads in the content.

    I’m pulling for you guys, hopefully the new servers will help.

  • By switching your blog name temporarily to a blog you can get a no-javascript / image only version of the MyBlogLog widget.

  • I hope MBL can figure these things out quickly also so that they can stay on the forefront. Too much spam will scare people away quickly.

    The one thing that amazes me is that Myspace is still so popular. They have some of the slowest loading pages (if they even load). They are also FULL of spam accounts and phishers. I think it is time for someone to beat them out with better code and a better system.

    Compared to them, MBL is doing great in my eyes when it comes to usability and spam.

  • I have nudged a notable WordPress plugin developer to take a look at the comments on Jeremy’s blog about other ways to improve performance with widgets and come up with a solution.

    Andy you have a really weird template with the right sidebars appearing in the code first despite the content being on the left. I can’t quite see any benefit, and it does rely on every advertising and widget network to be running smoothly for your content to load. You shouldn’t have to mess around with your template – One lotus should fix it for free (unless it was designed that way for a purpose)

    With Eric now linking to my blog in comments, maybe I will get one from the Mybloglog blog soon 🙂

  • I actually got a request from someone the other day to be a co-author of their blog, but I ignored it.

    And with regards to your layout, putting the left navigation after the main text areas in your code will fix the loading problem. I had that on my site and my redesign fixed it. It all depends on which code shows up first in the html.

  • Jason – yeah I know, but the designer tells me that I would have to fix the layout of the site (which could cause other issues). Instead, we’re using a floating layout.

  • Need some help? I do a little web design on the side.

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