They sound like something out of a B-grade science fiction movie, but splogs are a serious danger to the use of blogs as a communications tool for politics or any other subject. What are they? Spam blogs, set up automatically and by the thousands, filled with stolen text, and designed to take advantage of the interconnected nature of the blogosphere to make money.
Wired has a great article on how sploggers take advantage of niches in Google’s site-rankings to create entry points into self-referential rings of fake blogs, which then channel readers into clicking on paid ads. They also bombard human-run sites with fake comments (e.politics can get dozens per day) as another route to try to build traffic. The danger they could force bloggers to turn off the trackback and comment features that make the blogosphere an interactive conversation. Other social media could be the next target.
Wired’s piece is also worth a read if you’re interested in the mechanics of blog intercommunication it contains one of the best descriptions I’ve seen of how trackbacks and similar features work. I’ve long felt that many Wired articles give their subjects short shrift (they often feel as though they’re a page too short), but this one goes into the kind of detail the topic deserves.