UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Archive for August 24th, 2007

An Embarrassing Image Bot

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 24 August 2007

Display of recent readers, which includes an image of a pair of buttocksAn approach I’ve taken to maximising the impact of this blog has been register it (and its RSS feed) in various locations. One of these was the MyBlogLog service, as I’ve described previously.

As well as providing access to the blog by visitors to the MyBlogLog service (and I notice there have been 600 visitors in the last seven days) this service also allows you to embed a widget in your sidebar, showing an image of recent readers (who obviously need to register with the service and provide an image).

I have also felt that this can provide a useful way of getting to know your readers; it also allows readers to see who else has recently been reading the blog.

MyBlogLog subscribers can chose for themselves the image they wish to upload. In many social networking services we are finding that people upload caricatures of themselves, or an image which may reflect their interests (such as, as shown in the accompanying image, a cat).

Last week, however, I noticed that the image for one reader showed a pair of buttocks. And this image appeared to stay for about a week. As the person’s own blog is called “Becoming A Pick-Up Artist” I decided that it was unlikely that this was a reader who had a legitimate interest in my blog, but is actually an interesting example of link spam (someone who seeks to increase traffic to their blog by providing links in other blogs, often via blog comments).

Changed image, which is now a portrait (wearing a mask)Today I noticed that the image had been changed – it is now a portrait photograph of a man wearing a wig and a mask over his eyes.

This image isn’t as embarrassing (or offensive to some) as the previous one, but it still is spam, I feel. So I have emailed MyBlogLog to inform them of this.

More interestingly, though, are the implications of allowing images to be included in a blog without any form of moderation. Would the example I’ve described cause problems if used in the context of a school? And what if, for example, a groups of users had an image which included a poster giving the first letter of their name – and, first, Frank, followed by Ursula, followed by Connie and Kay read my blog. Nothing wrong with the individual images, but put together in a particular order …

My take on this is that I will observe the patterns of usage, and ensure that I can remove such widgets if they display content which is illegal or causes real offence. However as someone who needs to be able to identify such issues and to advice others I will continue to make use of such services.

Of course the image could only be seen by people who came to the UK Web Focus blog side and looked at the sidebar. Now that I’ve included an image in this post, it will be seen by readers who use a blog aggregator or an RSS reader. I hope the image isn’t considered offensive to anybody!

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