Webometric Thoughts

July 20, 2009

Social Media Non-Adopters: Engagement v. Exposure

Filed under: BCSMC,Twitter,spam — admin @ 8:04 am

The topic of last Tuesday’s Black Country Social Media Cafe was Social Media Non-Adopters. Although the group chose the topic it was quite a quiet event, so we dumped the panel-at-the-front format in favour of a round table discussion. Despite the limited numbers (or possibly because of the limited numbers), it turned out to be a really interesting discussion, covering numerous different topics under the umbrella of ‘Social-Media Non-Adopters’; from the protocol of ReTweeting on Twitter to turning your avatar green for Iran![Nb. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of many social media campaigns].

The area of discussion I found most interesting was that of ‘Engagement v. Exposure’: When we encourage people to participate in social media are we giving them the support necessary to engage successfully and deal with the problems that come from potentially exposing yourself to communication with some of the world’s less desirable elements.

One seemingly innocuous example was that of retweeting, i.e., re-broadcasting a message in Twitter by updating with someone else’s message with ‘RT’ and the original messenger’s username at the front. Whilst a RT is generally seen as highlighting the noteworthiness of someone’s content, it can also be used to attribute content to a person who never twittered it. Such false-attribution could be anything from adjusting a comment for length, to attributing something embarrassing/slanderous to someone. Most such examples are examples of misinformation rather than disinformation; they are not deliberately trying to give a false impression. And most disinformation is more likely to be in an attempt to drive traffic than to be slanderous, for example:

‘RT @stephenfry Probably the most interesting person ever http://bit.ly/LnyqI

Which is probably more likely to generate traffic than the same quote without the Stephen Fry attribution.

Responses from Twitter show a mixture of those who accept the need for shortening tweets, and those who expect a carbon copy.

The problem of celeb-attribution-spam was the topic of a post at bloggingtips last week, unfortunately they are not all as obvious as this:

August 28, 2008

Email is dead; long live ….

Filed under: email,spam — admin @ 8:24 am

I have always enjoyed checking to see if I have any post. Whilst it is usually a bill, the offer of a credit card, or the promotion of Sky TV, there is always the chance that it could be something far more interesting and exotic (such as the free book of stamps I received last week). When the Royal Mail’s did away with the second-post, I overcame the loss by checking my emails more often. Now, however, I find that my email is increasingly unreliable.

My email problems started back in March when Hotmail started only selectively sending my emails. Whilst this was seemingly a glitch with Hotmail, as a opposed to a problem with email as a communication medium, the seeds of doubt were sown. Since then my university has installed an email filtering system to deal with spam. Not a selective filtering system that is applied to those people who have a problem with spam, but across the board!

I now find that unless I spend twice as long constructing an email, e.g., filling it with excess text and making sure there are no mentions of banks or money (as a general rule my emails rarely mention viagra anyway), only half of my Hotmail emails reach their university destination without being quarantined for a few hours first. In addition a number of emails sent from university addresses to me are mysteriously disappearing. Yes, I could do away with my Hotmail account and use my university account, but that does not seem to be a practical solution. Most people (especially students) have one account that they already check regularly when they arrive at a university, forcing them to check another email address will merely mean communications sent to that email address are left for days or weeks on end before being retrieved.

Whilst I’m sure that some IT departments are more selective when they roll out spam guards, unless you are aware of the exact filtering systems in place at the email’s destination, you can never be sure whether your email has reached it’s destination or not. As such email, in its current state, is as good as dead. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be anything capable of replacing it, but if someone does come up with a solution there will be a lot of money to be made.

October 30, 2007

Diabolically Innovative

Filed under: captcha,spam — admin @ 10:18 am

I doubt there are many people who like spam, and personally I am not keen on those people who send it. However it must be said that they are an innovative bunch. Whilst Godin describes one group of spammers methods of dealing with captcha as diabolical, it should also be said that it is rather innovative: the public type in the captcha code in exchange for the promise of a striptease program.

If only the spammers applied themselves to more legal activities.

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