Saturday, July 07, 2007

invasion of the Socnet Spambots

140 character limit per message is the best thing that ever happened to blogging.

140 character limit per utterance is now a rigid rule I would like to help everyone in all communication venues to adhere to religiously: podcasts, video, film, sermons, poems, all textual content, as much as possible.

How many words shoot off into the air or the digital effluvium, to die unheard, in the numbed and bored to death ears of inattentive audiences? What an awful and shameful waste of perfectly good words, though the logic strings are usually dubious to say the least!

My good friends, if you like my ideas, you must pull yourself together, oppose the Future squarely in the face, and say, "Okay. Micro blog blasting it is then! I shall hesitate no longer. I will arise. I will join Twitter, Pownce, Ning, and Jaiku today, before dinner or the day is done."

But, alas, there is trouble. Big trouble.

These nifty brevity channels are under attack. I mean more than just Twitter Supremicists vs. Pownce Ninjas. (I am a half-breed, liking both, heck, liking all the socnets, except MyFace.)

Your pal Vaspers, always at the cudgeling edge of experimentation in music and web stuff, has seen a New Vision, and it's unfortunately a Vision of Socnet Spambotting.

Behold: malicious entity starts an account, then launches attack vector "flood": sending out tons of messages constantly. This in effect nullifies the purpose of a socnet (social network). You are on a socnet primarily to inform, share, and befriend other people. Other mentally balanced people, that is.

It's the nutjobs, greedy guts, and competitive sleazers who can potentially ruin a socnet or Web 2.0 tool. Some say it has happened at Digg.

But I happen to love the new Digg socnet called Pownce. I can attach files to my messages, so I distribute music mp3s through the Vaspers Pownce page. Click on "Files" in the right sidebar to see all my Str8 Sounds and Camouflage Danse mp3s, but also any files my Friends sent me. Pownce needs to enable grouping Files into sets.

Let's dissect a Twitter Spambot now.

Twitter Forensics:

@gestionale: Gestionale aka SoftShop's Twitter page, displays these stats:

773 Friends, 1111 updates, and only 12 Followers = spambot. Gestionale aka SoftShop is predatory Twitter spam criminal.

When trolls, spambots, abusers, porn, or other unseemly elements distribute pervasive spam floods, or other hard to manage problems, you face on hard fact: is it time that you migrate to, or create yourself, a new community, new tools?

I call both people and automated programs who flood a recipient or community with unwanted or unsolicited messages, especially when of a commercial or self-promotional nature: "spambots", for the source ultimately resides in some human agent, and the resulting vandalism and time-thievery amounts to the same.

Spambots represent just one attack vector that can be launched against an individual user, company, or online community. We are to bear in mind that since online communities spam everything from religious, pornographic, political, artistic, activist, entertainment, technology, fashion, philosophy, and all human culture.

Thus, online community members have an innate duty to bond, inform, and protect each other. Suggesting good music mp3 links, helping new users navigate and fit in with the other members and the community's digital culture and orientations.

Some communities encourage a slumber party triviality, others seem to lean more to scholarly attitudes and no-nonsense discussion of technology.

Personally, I would like to stick to tech topics, new Web 2.0 tools, emerging developer projects and communities. Personal statements are cool if they're insightful or amusing, but not dry mundane drivel. Put a twist on it, make it more "you".

I would also like to distribute my computer music, past and present, even hot off the Audacity audio editor WAV burner, to technicians who like super experimental rock, techno, and noise concertos.

Thirdly, I seek to make friends, converse with normals as well as advanced beings, form partnerships, gain clients, and provide abundant good information to my fellow community members.

You gravitate toward the group most in tune with your personality and your goals of active community membership, for to be in harmony with the chosen community, one must interact on multiple levels: comments, replies, DM (direct message), private notes, and regular, perhaps hourly, posting of messages (in Pownce we call them "notes").

You may also need to send Bug Warnings, Tutorial Blurts, Usability Alerts, and, in the most extreme case, Migration Bulletins. A typical Migration Bulletin informs members and users of a particular socnet why, when, and where to migrate next.

I am preparing a 140 character Twitter Migration Bulletin, though I'm reluctant to let a spambot force my hand. If this new problem is not solved swiftly, I'm going to abandon Twitter. I hate how harsh and tough guy that sounds. I've seen others say similar things about Pownce. But I've had no problems with Pownce, and prefer it.

But a flooding flow of relentless spambots, sent into all the socnets, would easily, quickly, and permanently destroy them all.

Who, but your pal Vaspers, is exposing this massive vulnerability?

Solution: enable users to Delete any message, not just their own. Let us yank them out, like any other spam, like email and blog comment spam. Give us the power over external input, over the message-stream intrusion tactics of spammers.

Want to kick the ass of Twitter and Pownce? With one solid blow?

Just invent a socnet that:

(1) is buttressed against such attack vectors, and others on the unforeseeable horizons.

(2) enables members to reply to specific messages (as in the Pownce note comment tool, and not just to the other member's most recent message as in Twitter), enable file sharing (Pownce is very fast)

(3) feature mp3 players with all mp3 uploads, players equipped with volume, pause, stop, play, rewind, replay, and download links, for all messages containing mp3s hosted on the socnet server

(4) extensive interactive, comment-enabled Profile pages that allow multi media, so we can define ourselves with PDF, mp3, avi, mov, WAV, doc, xml, and other files and feeds

(5) integrates and aggregates all your other feeds, feedscraping to create new or more specific feeds, to enable personal portal building.

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