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October 21, 2003



Sorry to see you're getting spam comments as well. We are definitely hard at work on trying to get a solid long-term fix for comment spam in place. In the meantime, try to see it as proof of your weblog's influence and popularity!

Pierre Omidyar



I am suprised they haven't spammed this site more, i am also suprised it took such a long time for it to get a "hold" of bloggs, funny thing is though, Google bought Blogger, and it because of Google that we have Blog spam. The only thing Blogspam is good for is in terms of inbound links, which Google uses heavily to rank a page (PageRank tm).

Hopefully in the near future they will just add a filter to their algo, which makes the links coming from bloggs either de-valued, or not counted at all. And anybody who know people at Google know they are one smart bunch of people (Say hi Matt ;) )

Blogspam with Movabletype blogs is similar in a way to the guestbook and FFA spam i've seen for Matt Wright (www.scriptarchive.com) it's all due to the simplicity in automating the spam process.

To be honest i do think bloggs will have a hard time surviving against the blogspam, the people who updates their blog daily will be able to handle it, but you never know when they'll just be so tired and stop editing it and shuting down the blog.

Only the future can tell.


I agree with Martin that indeed automated spam is a serious threat to blogs... but blogs are not completely without defense. Check out http://www.junkeater.com as a possible solution. We have a demo blog at http://www.junkeater.de/blog to demonstrate how movabletype blogs can be protected against automatic submissions. And the service is free!

Jamie Gilcig

Pierre, I find it funny that you would complain about spam. On your Ebay site, whenever one clicks on an info link my Spybot catches links to Mediaplex and companies like that?

Isn't it possibly hypocritical to complain about Spam when you are one of the largest facilitators of spam? :)

Take care,



LOL....gotta love trolls...

The cookies from Mediaplex are harmless. They track visits to provide better targeted content..like flagging if you're a buyer or seller and showing tiles on the homepage that best fit..



Troll? I think not. There are tracking cookies all over ebay, (and the rest of the net) and then we get spammed.

Is there a noble purpose for a cookie? Who makes that decision?

And if noble, why not be open about it publicly.

I'm not picking on Pierre. I think Spam is the biggest hurdle confronting the internet as there really aren't too many rules, at least enforcable ones. I'm basically agreeing with his position, and only feel that his company should lead in not using such cookies.

"But spam is uninvited and not useful to anyone reading or commenting most any blog. It should be eradicated"

Those I believe are Pierre's words. Surely cookies, that lead to spam should not be used unless clearly agreed to, no?

Because from my experiance, cookies lead to Spam.

No Anonymous Troll here :)
Jamie Gilcig


Fair enough. You're no longer anonymous.

There are absolutely noble uses for cookies.

Cookies keep people logged in without having to re-enter their password every time they want to place a bid. Cookies can also automatically log people in when first coming to a site.

Cookies allow for custom starting points on, say, the "my ebay" page. You can opt to have it load with the "selling" tab up front without having to click on it every time the page loads.

Cookies allow for user classification. When you log into eBay, it knows if you are a buyer or a seller. It makes the site react accordingly with merchandising tiles suited for your needs.

eCommerce sites rely heavily on cookies. They make sure that items placed in your shopping cart stay there until you check out.

Cookies allow for progress points to be saved, like remembering how many lessons you've completed in an online course. They can remember user-customized backgrounds and other layout related options.

Cookies remember your name and email address when you post comments to this page. :)

In short, they add personality and customization for a much better surfing experience. Granted, cookies are also often misused -- but eBay isn't the best example.

By the way, you can opt out of Mediaplex cookies by following this link:


You can also set your browser to refuse all cookies - you should try it and see how things change. In my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Granted, they could use some tighter regulation.

Ed Leddy
eBay ID: techsmartauctions
800-621-6364 x503


Well Ed you make some valid points. I notice when Spybot catches some of these cookies I can't use or see the window or pop up.

On Ebay for example there was a little box advertising the new listing process from Half.com for Media. Curious I clicked the box. Well Spybot caught the cookie so I recieved no info.

It did the same for the Live help box on Ebay.

Isn't it true though that these cookies also collect your data so that your email addy can be sold to advertisers and used in other ways that evolve into Spam?



Pierre Omidyar

I think the important thing is to look at a site's privacy policy, which discloses exactly how personal data will be used. You should do this before using the site, and then you should take advantage of the opt-in or opt-out options.

There are always tradeoffs in life, though. For instance, I bought some clothes recently. I gave the store my address so they could ship some of them after alterations were made. I gave them my phone number. I obviously gave them my credit card.

Technically, the store can now call me or mail me to encourage me to come back and shop with them. That's a tradeoff I implicitly agree to for the convenience of not having to drive back to the store to pick up my clothes. If I get a solicitation by phone from them, I'll probably politely ask them not to call again.

As far as the technical aspects you're talking about, as Ed described, most sites use cookies to keep track of where you are in a given process. If you block the cookies, you can't use the site. Again, it's a tradeoff.

Another thing for you to consider when you're blocking cookies at a site where you are already a registered user, is exactly what sort of information are you protecting? If you signed up with the site, presumably you already gave them an e-mail address, so they can do whatever they want with it within the boundaries of their privacy policy. Cookies have no part in the company's policy decision on what to do with your e-mail address.


Those are very good points Pierre.

What I'm concerned about however isn't really Ebay cookies.

I'm worried about sites where I am not a registered user.

For instance, when you go to say, www.thedrudgereport.com you get nailed with pop ups, and cookies left right, and center.

Same goes for many websites.

If there is no agreed term should anyone have this sort of thing done to them?

Also, what I'm concerned about is what Spybot doesn't catch? :)

How is my usage on the net being tracked?

Is someone tracking what I type?

Is Big Brother feeding what I type into some bizarre Jeff Bezosian new search feature so that if for some reason I hit a hot word I get some sort of result?

I liken the history of the web to world history prior to World War 1. At that time you didn't need a passport, and there were many people that travelled the world.

After WW1 Passports, and Papers became the norm, and it became more, and more difficult to travel to certain places.

Are we at that stage on the net? Do we need our passport stamped to visit websites even as a casual browser?

I think there is more at stake than simple Spam.



Interesting points, Pierre.

I think much of this is old tricks reintroduced through new media. The difference is (probably) that we spend much more time on the internet than we do receiving snail mail or phonecalls, so everything is just amplified to the nth degree in terms of annoyance.

Jamie, I've been using google's toolbar lately to block popups. To date, it has blocked 426 popups..(it shows the count in the toolbar). While I'm not a huge fan of cluttering internet explorer with toolbars, I already use google a million times a day, and I've recently discovered that you can drag any toolbar up into the space next to "File|Edit|View|Favorites|..etc", so it's just occupying unused space at the moment anyway.

For everything else, I use a combination of Spyware Guard, Spyware Blaster, and SpyBot Search and Destroy.. All offer free protection and updates, and they found some things that Ad-Aware didn't.

Definitely worth a look!



Lily Sarafan

This is quite unprofessional, but I have sent an email to info@omidyar.org about a course project for a graduate management science and engineering course at Stanford and hoped you might take a moment to read it and respond. Thank you for your time.


Thanks Ed. I'm using Ad Aware, and Spybot. I tried the toolbars, but I found it slowed my old computer down.

Also, it basically seems that you're allowing one spy instead of many (google in this case) :)


no google doesn't use any spyware =)

spam or cookies? can someone explain the relation between the two?

The last definition on spam I knew was "one or more unsolicited messages, sent or posted as part of a larger collection of messages, all having substantially identical content. " ..

Cookies - "Persistent Client-State HTTP Cookies are files containing information about visitors to a web site (e.g. user name and preferences)." ... paraphrased in few words relates to: personalization/tracking/spying/and most importantly => "deprivatization".

I think there are two separate topics here.

Please open another topic on invasion of privacy/deprivatization.

Doug Kenline


Please blog for us every day. We miss you.

Doug Kenline
Atlanta, Georgia


Pierre are you reading us?

Pierre Omidyar

Yes, I am. But I didn't see a comment on this thread from you, Johnny. Did I miss something?


Great, in that case, I would like to disagree with you.
Spam, "It should be eradicated"… I will create an analogy between the internet and our ecosystem.

If you eradicate sharks, rats, snakes, and ants, there will be an imbalance in our ecosystem.
Biodiversity is needed in our natural ecosystem as "Digidiversity" is needed in the digital world.

If there was no spam, there were hundreds of people without a job, the anti-spam industry would disappear leaving programmers, developers, artists without ideas and jobs, advertising and media companies would disappear, many products would not make it to the public, many people would suffer from it.

I think, there is a whole "invisible hand" behind it.

From penis-enlargement pills, free government grants, inkjet-printer refills, extended car warranties, "eBay secrets" -- marketed via spam e-mail campaigns or postings on newsgroups and blogs, there is a whole industry that it's part of our Digital System. No, it should not be eradicated.


Johnny has an interesting point..

As annoying as spam is, it is a fundamental part of our economy's food chain, albeit the side belonging to the bottom feeders..and are as annoying as telemarketers, junk snail-mail, and even infomercials. Telemarketers are a poor example because we do have a do-not-call list..

Take infomercials for example. They surprise us early sunday mornings when flipping through our favorite channels, just as spam surprises us while thumbing through our favorite email. Just as we can change the channel, we can just as easily press 'delete'.

The wonders of technology make way for a heck of a lot more 'channels' in our inbox, but the idea behind it all still holds true I suppose.

I wonder how the do-not-call list will affect the telemarketing industry. If it is able to thrive anyway, a 'do-not-email' list would be interesting...but almost impossible to enforce..

Points awarded, Johnny.




Lol, Johnny has a point, but it's like saying it would be bad if there were no longer Cock Roaches in the world because it would negatively effect the pest control industry ;)

Sometimes the positives outweigh the negatives.


Ed, thanks for the points awarded, I'll forward them to Jamie, who has a good point.

Still, Cock Roaches are needed in our ecosystem, they are decomposers, they help break down or reduce organic material into smaller pieces.. ("Without decomposers and scavengers, the world would be covered with dead plants and animals!" ) as well as Pest Management is needed too, an industry part of our system.

I beleive we need to maintain a balance.

Now, my question is, what would something like the Ebola virus would be benefitial for? .. but that's something for someone else to answer, who knows more about it, since I'm not too familiar with it.

Mata Hari

I agree with Johnny. Except for "Cock Roaches are needed?" I don't think so.
"they are decomposers." True! They do a good job in decomposing apartments in Manhattan. And they are equal opportunity.


Ross Mayfield

The only solution to comment spam is to turn comments off.

Missing your voice, Pierre

Robert Bibber

Johnny et al: I am certain the world can survive quite well without spammers. They are a drain on society and cost business millions in lost time and bandwidth. I recently installed a spam filter for my boss because he gets nailed with over 200 spam emails every day. He doesn't want to change his email address because thousands of business contacts around the world have it and it would be impossible to notify them all of the new address. Now- instead of complaining to me about spam, he complains that it takes so long to download his email because of the spam filtering. I agree with Pierre - spam must go!

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