Google insists that Z Trek is a ‘spam blog’

Twice now, Blogger (owned by Google) has imposed limitations on my blog, claiming that it “has characteristics of a spam blog.”


The first time came on at the end of July. An email from Blogger warned that my blog was locked, and would be deleted soon.


Your blog at: has been identified as a potential spam blog. To correct this, please request a review by filling out the form at {link}

Your blog will be deleted within 20 days if it isn’t reviewed, and you’ll be unable to publish posts during this time. After we receive your request, we’ll review your blog and unlock it within two business days. If this blog doesn’t belong to you, you don’t have to do anything, and any other blogs you may have won’t be affected.

We find spam by using an automated classifier. Automatic spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and occasionally a blog like yours is flagged incorrectly. We sincerely apologize for this error. By using this kind of system, however, we can dedicate more storage, bandwidth, and engineering resources to bloggers like you instead of to spammers. For more information, please see Blogger Help:

Thank you for your understanding and for your help with our spam-fighting efforts.


The Blogger Team

I immediately clicked the link to request that human review. I also downloaded and backed up all of my blog posts, from September 2006 onwards, just in case.

For three days I heard nothing, and the blog remained locked. Suddenly, it was unlocked. I never heard a thing about it from Blogger — no email, no nothing.

Here’s what Blogger says about spam blogs

As with many powerful tools, blogging services can be both used and abused. The ease of creating and updating webpages with Blogger has made it particularly prone to a form of behavior known as link spamming. Blogs engaged in this behavior are called spam blogs, and can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site.

Spam blogs cause various problems, beyond simply wasting a few seconds of your time when you happen to come across one. They can clog up search engines, making it difficult to find real content on the subjects that interest you. They may scrape content from other sites on the web, using other people’s writing to make it look as though they have useful information of their own. And if an automated system is creating spam posts at an extremely high rate, it can impact the speed and quality of the service for other, legitimate users.

Well, maybe my site is irrelevant or nonsensical, but I don’t think it’s all that repetitive repetitive repetitive…

I felt a lot better when on August 1, the company blogged that a mistake had been made in a post entitled “Spam Fridays“:

Spam Fridays

While we wish that every post on this blog could be about cool features or other Blogger news, sometimes we have to step in and admit a mistake.

We’ve noticed that a number of users have had their blogs mistakenly marked as spam, and wanted to sound off real quick to let you know that, despite it being Friday afternoon, we are working hard to sort this out. So to those folks who have received an email saying that your blog has been classified as spam and can’t post right now, we offer our sincere apologies for the trouble.

We hope to have this resolved shortly, and appreciate your patience as we work through the kinks.

They followed up with another posting on August 2, called “You Are Not Spam“:

You Are Not Spam

You knew that already, and now we do too. We have now restored all accounts that were mistakenly marked as spam yesterday. (See: Spam Fridays)

We want to offer our sincerest apologies to affected bloggers and their readers. We’ve tracked down the problem to a bug in our data processing code that locked blogs even when our algorithms concluded they were not spam. We are adding additional monitoring and process checks to ensure that bugs of this magnitude are caught before they can affect your data.

At Blogger, we strongly believe that you own and should control your posts and other data. We understand that you trust us to store and serve your blog, and incidents like this one are a betrayal of that trust. In the spirit of ensuring that you always have access to your data, we have been working on importing and exporting tools to make it easier to back up your posts. If you’d like a sneak peek at the Import / Export tool, you can try it out on Blogger in Draft.

Our restoration today was of all blogs that were mistakenly marked as spam due to Friday’s bug. Because spam fighting inherently runs the risk of false positives, your blog may have been mis-classified as spam for other reasons. If you are still unable to post to your blog today you can request a review by clicking Request Unlock Review on your Dashboard.

Great… but then, yesterday, my blog was flagged again! Now, whenever I go to post (including this one), I have to do captcha-based validation. Blogger says,

Blogger’s spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What’s a spam blog?) Since you’re an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

We received your unlock request on August 12, 2008. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam.

How often am I going to have to go through this? At least I can post, but this is very annoying. When you couple this with the recent service outages on Gmail, you have to wonder if Google is overreaching.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick
4 replies
  1. Andrew Binstock
    Andrew Binstock says:

    It will probably keep happening as long as you keep posting the contents of spam mail you receive.

    Can’t blame them for mistaking real spam as not being spam, IMO.

  2. Alan Zeichick
    Alan Zeichick says:

    It’s a good thing, then, that I didn’t go with my original headline for this posting:


    But while you may be right, Andrew, I don’t think that my posting warnings about spam (and quoting them) is the issue… look back at how they define a ‘spam blog,’ with repetitive, random text and many links to one site.

    I think their algorithms are haywire.

  3. Paul N. Leroux
    Paul N. Leroux says:

    I got blocked, too — the fact that their algorithms find my prose indistinguishable from “repetitive, random text” isn’t exactly an ego builder!

    Admittedly, though, some people find the randomness of my writing one of its more endearing qualities. 🙂

  4. Ted Bahr
    Ted Bahr says:

    Wow, those Google people are really great!! Even though it’s Friday afterNOON they are working on this massive problem that them themselves created. Poor Google people – missing the Friday afternoon beer bash.

    What a bunch of arrogance. Getting more like Microsoft every day!


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