Community Question: What to do about "spam" articles?

Posted by avatarOmar last updated September 28, 2007 at 4:34 pm

Yup, another one of these, where the community must decide what action to take and in turn develop a policy we can apply for future cases. This time around two different users have submitted articles that signal some alarm bells. The articles in question can be found here:

Exhibit A - DELETED

Exhibit B - DELETED

If your first reaction to see those articles is "what's the problem?" then that's useful information. If you don't think there's anything wrong happening then maybe I'm being a little overzealous. But there are some issues to consider that may have a negative impact on the site as a whole.

Here are the signs that something is wrong:

  1. continually using the same phrases over and over again
  2. linking to one site MANY times with the same phrase
  3. copy and pasted entire article from another source (you can find this out by searching for an entire sentence in Google and seeing the exact same text come up)

Number 1 isn't a big deal, that can just be classified as pretty poor writing.

Number 3 isn't that bad either, as the author of the article might really be the original author, and the writer should show they're the original author.

Number 2 is the big one that shows this article is centered FAR more about Search Engine Optimization than providing useful information to anybody. If we allow SEO-folk to post any old crappy SEO article on the site, experience dictates that other SEOs will be sure to follow and the site will be filled with very low quality spam/link filled content.

Now there are two points that I want to make clear: 1. I'm not against SEO. In fact a lot of links (even external ones) on ProductWiki are FOLLOW links, which is different than most sites defaulting to NOFOLLOW. If companies want to start a product report on a product they make and have a useful link to their official website, that's totally cool too. These things are useful to everybody. The problem occurs when SEOs/spammers abuse their freedom and just write garbage that brings the site down as a whole.

The second point I want to make clear is that "garbage content" is a subjective statement. In regards to the Brake Bleeding article, there's actually some useful information contained inside there as to what brake bleeding actually IS. The lingerie article doesn't contain much useful information at all IMO, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a guy. That's why I want to bring this up with the community and see what everyone thinks, and hopefully come to a consensus.

Possible courses of action

  1. Do nothing since nothing wrong happened!
  2. Delete the article from the site
  3. Delete all of the links in the article
  4. Reword the article to retain the information, but improve the readability and make it more useful (anybody want to volunteer for this?)
  5. Remove the article's visibility from the site. You'll still be able to access the article directly from the URL or from Search, but it won't show up in the "News" section of ProductWiki.