Comment talle-vous?

February 23rd, 2007 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

As an aside I thought I’d give a slice of economic life in the digital economy with this post. If I get feedback about fascination with the details of my career search I will continue that commentary. If I don’t, well…, I’ll continue that commentary anyway.

Although not many comments show up on my page, I get about 10 per day. Am I deleting encouraging words from emerging business leaders, heavens no! I am deleting commment spam. What is comment spam and how did it come about you ask? Great question, for the answer, read on…

As the Smith School is well aware we are living in a digital economy. Which means… what exactly you might ask? Well, it means quite a few things, but one of the main things it means is that more people spend more time on the internet. And, they buy things there. Now let’s try a little scenario. You are a person and you want to buy something on the internet, but you don’t know how to find it. Where do you go? Google, correct.

Let’s try another scenario. You are a person and you want to sell something on the internet and you know where consumers will go to look for your product (see first scenario), but you’ve got a big problem. When they search for your product, they get your website and a bunch of other websites and (gasp!) you’re not first on the list. You’re probably not even on the first page! And here are two things you know about people who buy you’re product:

1. They don’t know you that well
2. They’re lazy

So… you have to get to the top of that list! How, you ask? Great question. Many tech firms are doing their best to answer it in a line of business called “internet search optimization,” read: “We help you get to the top of the Google list.”

These are great folks I’m sure, but they have a thoroughly unenviable task. Their job is to outsmart the guys at Google. If this doesn’t seem difficult I can just briefly demonstrate how talented these people are. They have invented a way to practically access the majority of available information on the internet. Think about that for a second. I made a webpage on college for an english course that I updated maybe twice. I found it easily using their search engine.

(I just took a break to delete another comment spam)

Google has an algorithm, we’ll think about it as an equation for the purposes of simplicity. Start with y=mx + b, the equation for a straight line, where

y=where your site shows up on their search engine
m=some constant
b=some constant
x=some variable relating to your website

However, in Google’s case their are many x’s related to the equation. So the “search optimization” people’s business is finding which x’s have the biggest m’s. Essentially which things about your site move you up their list the fastest. These firms discovered that one of the biggest things was that if your site is linked to by another site like this:

Then you (Google) move up towards the top of the list. So now that you have this knowledge put yourself in the shoes of the company looking to sell things. You now have a new question, “How do I get people to link to my page on their site?” Good question, here’s one way to do it. Send bloggers comment spam.

Advertisers have developed programs that crawl all the major blog sites and send them comments that make some arbitrary statement and then list a bunch of links to sites to buy their products. For every blitz these crawlers make they get a certain number of blogs that don’t have comment moderators or accept their comments and then they move up the Google ladder just a bit.

I may have just posted this for the sheer irony that will result when I get comment spam to the post, but I also find it an interesting economic development in the digital economy. More later…