|by Flemming Funch|
I'm doing various little programming contract jobs at the moment. And it is remarkable to notice how much effort apparently is being spent on trying to abuse various shared internet resources. I.e. getting around the way something was intended to be used, for the sake of self-promotion. Like, somebody just asked me to do a program doing what Blogburner is doing. I said no, and gave the guy a piece of my mind, but I'm sure he'll find somebody else to do it. "Blog and Ping" they call it. It is essentially that you automatically set up a number of fake blogs at a site like Blogger and you automatically post a large number of regular web pages to them, pinging the blog update sites as you do it, pretending that you just posted something new on your blog. Of course exploiting the somewhat favored status that blogs have in search engines, and attracting traffic. Under false pretenses.
And that's just one of many similar project proposals I see passing by. There are obviously many people getting various kinds of spamming programs made. You know, stuff like spidering the web for forums and then auto-posting ads to them. Or automatic programs that sign up for masses of free accounts in various places. Or Search Engine Optimization programs that create masses of fake webpages to try to show better in the search engines. I don't take any of that kind of jobs, but it is a bit disturbing to see how many of them there are.
It is maybe even surprising how well the net holds up and how the many freely shared resources that are available can be viable. Another example. You know, there's the whois system that one uses to check the registration information for a domain, who owns it, when it expires, etc. Now, there's a business in trying to grab attractive domain names that for one reason or another expire. So there are people who set up servers that do hundreds of thousands of whois lookups every hour, in order to catch domains right when they expire, in order to re-register them for somebody else. Or any of a number of variations on that scheme. To do that you'll want to do maybe 100 whois lookups every second. And most whois servers will try to stop you from doing that, but having some kind of quota of how many you can do, which is much less. So, you spread the queries over many IP numbers and many proxy servers, in order to fool them. And the result is inevitably that a large amount of free resources are being spent, in order for somebody to have a little business niche.
At the same time I can see that part of what makes the net work in good ways is indeed that one can build on somebody else's work with few barriers. That one can quote other people's articles, borrow their pictures, play their music, link to their sites, use their web services, etc. And add a little value as one does so. And I suppose the benefit of generative sharing will outweigh the problems with self-serving abuse of what is shared. But it seems it also involves an continuous struggle to try to hinder abusive use of freely accessible resources.
Like, in my blog here. An increasing number of visits are phoney, having bogus referrer information, just to make a site show up in my referrer logs. No very good solution to that, other than if I spend server resources on spidering all the sites to see if they really have a link to here.