What is the value of spam? Spam itself is considered a nuisance, with many articles, pundits, and analysts quoting huge financial costs associated with spam email. Lots of productive staff time is wasted in reading and then deleting spam messages, yet there must be some value to someone, or else the practice would not be so prevalent.
There is another type of spam of which many people may not be aware, but you would be is you have ever run a web site. This type of spam, called spamdexing, targets newsgroups, blogs, guest lists, forums - any public, open web forum where comments can be posted. The objective of spamdexing is to add spurious links to web pages to increase the chance that search engines will place the targeted web site at the top of its result lists.
Here are some interesting ways this kind of spam occurs:
- A link to a site is a message posted to a personal web page's guest list
- A link is inserted in the registration information provided when joining a web forum
- A page posts a link to one of your web site pages, which then shows up in the reverse directory of backlinks provided by web statistic applications
- A link is appended to a generic comment posted to blog entries
So what does this have to do with business intelligence, MDM, or information quality? Nothing really, but it does demonstrate an interesting behavior framework that may be of interest to our community. Let me explain:
As I mentioned before, but slightly rephrased: the goal of spamdexing is to exploit what can be understood about the way search engines do their magic to try to coerce them into optimizing for the specific spammer's requirements. In other words, technicians have reverse-engineered some process to identify ways to streamline the presentation of information to achieve the best results - and in a twisted way, isn't this what many aspects of BI are about?
Many business processes are effectively fixed; it is difficult to modify the way some organizations do things. However, it is possible to adapt your needs for business productivity improvement within the static frameworks such that great results can be achieved through the path of least resistance.
Not that I am condoning blog spam (in fact, as a blogger, it is sort of a nuisance), but as a way of looking for the silver lining, at least we can try to lear a lesson from the process, even if we do not like the motives.