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Fortune 500 Sites Use Hidden Text To Fool Ses
Posted 27 December 2005 - 10:02 AM
That surprised me!
I know that we have a 'no outing' policy here, but since this seemed to be news that was out in the general public, we certainly had no problem discussing the original article.
It does look like that the stuff Robert uncovered is indeed spam, as it is all deceptive in nature. Had he uncovered stuff that really wasn't spam at all, we probably would not be discussing it here.
Has anyone seen any other discussion of this elsewhere? That really surprises me if not!
Posted 28 December 2005 - 12:11 AM
I've certainly not seen any big stink about it though.
Posted 28 December 2005 - 12:57 AM
Posted 31 December 2005 - 10:07 AM
Mr. Medford believes he knows who's been naughty or nice.
The gist of it is he posted a comment on Matt's blog mentioning the spam of the big companies, and his comments seem to only show up for him.
I think he's being slightly paranoid and the problem is more likely that the comments just need to be approved first, but he's seeing a cached copy.
Still, at least we know that MC has been informed of the spam on the sites at this time. We'll see if anything happens to those sites. It may very well be that Google just doesn't consider what they're doing to be spam for some reason.
Posted 31 December 2005 - 06:33 PM
Ya know, I'm also still wondering why some of the self-professed spam-outing crusaders at some other boards haven't picked up on this story and run with it themselves. Why are we the only ones talking about this?
If Matt doesn't eventually approve Robert's comments, does this mean that Google is deliberately covering up the fact that they let Fortune 500 companies and their SEO consultants get away with crap that could exile a "lesser" company's site to the nether reaches of the SERPs? Or does it just mean that they had somehow overlooked this, and Matt's too embarrassed to admit it?
Okay, okay, I guess I should just get out my tinfoil hat and go join the conspiracy theorists over there in the corner...
Posted 31 December 2005 - 09:22 PM
It's hard to imagine that there's anything sinister going on, but on the other hand, how else do you explain it?
I don't get it either! Nothing even at the spam haters club of america! (IHY)
And on Robert's Medord's latest blog post about this, he claims that everyone seems to be scared to post about it. He didn't even want to mention our forum here as the only place that would post it, because he said it could be a problem for us. (Or something like that, I forget his exact wording.)
It certainly doesn't bother me if we're mentioned. Spam is spam, and it is interesting that big companies are allowed to do it.
Definitely makes me just figure it simply isn't considered spam by the engines anymore (if it ever was).
Posted 31 December 2005 - 10:30 PM
Okay, so both of those are doubtful. But a guy can dream...
Posted 31 December 2005 - 10:49 PM
I've posted about all these issues at TW too, but apparently new threads have to get approved first, and I suppose they're all out having a life celebrating New Year's eve about now!
Posted 31 December 2005 - 11:38 PM
Matt uses WordPress for his blog I'd be willing to bet. If memory serves, that's the default action for WP unapproved comments when the original poster comes back. No extra plug-ins required.
The original poster always sees their comment unless it's been deleted. I thought WP used to at least give them an message to the original poster stating that the comment had not yet been approved, but that would be easy enough to get rid of.
Tell Robert to go to Matt's blog from another computer that hasn't been used to post to MC's blog, or if he wants to risk not being able to get back to the disappearing comment again to delete the cookie the blog sets on his main computer.
Posted 01 January 2006 - 12:49 AM
Posted 01 January 2006 - 01:11 AM
If so, nope I don't see it.
The last several I see, working backwards are PhilC (9:25pm); PhilC (9:21pm); Aaron Pratt (3:01pm); Lee (2:33pm); What a Maroon (12:49pm); gwen (9:23am); Stephen (9:01am); Harith (8:40am); gwen (8:24am); Stephen (8:18am); Stephen (8:17am) and David W (7:53am). All from today's date of course.
<edit to add>
hehheh Try this one to see if what you see changes Jill.
When you get to the page where you see your comment normally, on which you should probably see the little New Comment boxes pre-filled with your info at the very bottom of the page, go back up into the address bar of your browser. Take out the "www." part of the domain, but leave the rest of the domain and page info there exactly as before. Then hit Enter to go to the non-www version of the same page.
Having just looked at my MC/blog cookie it appears he's setting it as the full www address. But Matt doesn't have a 301 in place to automatically take you to the www version if you enter the non-www version by hand. That should keep the the site from recognizing that you already have a cookie.
Edited by Randy, 01 January 2006 - 01:30 AM.
Posted 01 January 2006 - 01:45 AM
Jill, as of this writing, I don't see your comment either. Guess we'll just have to wait and see what shows up once the holiday weekend winds down, eh?
Posted 01 January 2006 - 07:41 AM
As for the spam outing - I only had a look at a couple of examples, but I think the use of <noscript> is one of those grey areas - yes, it can be abused, but yes, it can serve a very legitimate purpose. Possibly naive, but is there really no argument of accessibility issues applied for its use in at least some instances?
Posted 01 January 2006 - 09:50 AM
Posted 01 January 2006 - 10:19 AM
In that case, it would be perfectly appropriate to use <noscript> to serve the identical content to that which is served through the document.write statements. It would not be appropriate to use that <noscript> tag to include additional text that is not visible to JS-compliant browsers.
Most of the companies are using the <noscript> tag to include additional key phrases that are not included in the visible text of the page.
And so it goes on down the line...
The company that forced Robert to remove their name from his press release are using their style sheet to format text thusly:
Do these companies believe themselves to be "untouchable"? Or have they simply been misled by some very bad and/or incompetent advisors to believe that this isn't spam?
Text formatted to 2px and hidden is not an accessibility issue. <noscript> tags that include keyword-laden text and hidden links that aren't available through "regular" browsers is not an accessibility issue.
The sad part is, it isn't even really crafty spam. As I said earlier, this is just plain old garden-variety hidden text, and not very cleverly hidden at that. This is kindergarten-level spam, pure and simple.
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