Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Stupidity through obscurity

Yes, I'm angry that Google has decided to block "Feldman Off Topic" by declaring it a "spam blog", when it's no such thing. I'm also angry that Google will neither explain why a blog has been categorized as spam, nor explain what to do to keep a blog from being so characterized. It's a lot like Google's vaunted PageRank algorithm: "We won't tell you how it works, in order to keep people from gaming the system, but trust us."

There's a term, "security through obscurity", that means that something is deemed to be secure either because its algorithms are themselves secret, or the product is so unpopular that no one would even bother breaking it. When these "obscure" security techniques do get exposed to critical examination, it's often found that they're not secure at all, and the primary purpose of "obscuring" them was to keep people from finding out just how badly they had been designed. I have a suspicion that Google's "spam blog" detector falls into this category.

Google seems to like open source and transparency when it suits them, and is all for obscurity when it doesn't.
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