Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

Summary:Web spam is a formidable adversary. But with the release of the Google Webspam Report extension for Google Chrome, Google is empowering end-users to fight back! But why only release this capability for Chrome? Read more as I weigh in my thoughts on why I feel Google should make this effort a browser-independent one.

The battle of fighting Web spam is seemingly a never-ending one, but Google has just now empowered all of the end-users who use Google Chrome by developing an extension called "Google Webspam Report." As great as that may seem, I think Google has ulterior motives with this release. Before I get to that, though, here's a bit from the Google Webspam Report extension site:

 

Makes reporting webspam a breeze:

* Adds links to search result and web history pages to report spam quickly. * Prepopulates the spam report form where possible. * Select a spam url from your Chrome history. * Cycle through your recent Google searches to fill fields of the spam report page. * Options page to enable/disable features individually.

Google Webspam Report Browser Button
Google Webspam Report SERPs

(Editor Note: The images above (click them to see a full-size screen shot) demonstrate the ability to report via browser button or via SERPs)

 

Where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is concerned, black hat SEOs are all about cooking up some spam, so this extension would certainly be useful for us white hat SEOs who would like to quickly report sites like the one I pointed out here for their blatant use of spam. For other types of end-users, we all have our own types of spam we see based on our particular interests, so this extension would really allow for quick reporting of the innumerable types of spam we all encounter.

But for as great as that sounds, the release of this extension really has me thinking.

First, it tells me that combating Web spam has become one heck of an uphill battle for Google (and I completely understand why that could be) -- or has it? I mean, Google has one heck of a Web spam team (or so I've heard) and if they *really* wanted to make a dent in Web spam, why wouldn't they cross-pollinate browsers with this effort or simply build it into their search engine and perhaps the Google toolbar (to account for browser reporting functionality)? There's always doing something similar via a Firefox add-on, too.

And what better to help them out than to make it as easy as possible for end-users to report spam? Reports are tidy, well-packaged, and primed for Google's Web spam team to resolve. Now, I'm not really into conspiracy theories, but I definitely see motive here which tells me that the only reasons Google really did this was to make their job easier with finding and dealing with spam and to take on as many new Google Chrome users as they can. I'll dive into this point a bit more in just a minute.

Personally, I use Chrome because I like to keep up with many of the top browsers (currently, I'm using Firefox, IE9, Chrome, and Opera), but I don't really like how Chrome's UI (User Interface) is laid out. I think Google would really be doing themselves and everyone else a BIG favor by making the reporting of Web spam accessible to Firefox users, IE users, Safari users, Opera users, et al -- perhaps in a browser-neutral way like I mentioned above. But I suppose beggars can't be choosers, huh, Google? ;) Then again, perhaps that is all still to come.

Despite the fact that I think a chrome-only extension for this doesn't truly help Google (or those of us who use their search engine) anywhere near as much as it should, I am at least happy to see that they've taken the initiative to do something like this. With that said, I'll genuinely be ecstatic the day they make this functionality available outside of Chrome, because the people who really need it are the people who use Google. And which browsers do the people who access Google use? Well, ~90% of them use something other than Chrome, so limiting the ability to report Web spam in such a facile manner to within the ~10% of people who use Chrome, I think Google is either missing the boat here or they're very calculated with their decision. Personally, I think it's the latter, because it only makes sense to me that the more valuable they make Chrome (and only Chrome), the more people will want to use it. Or so they hope.

What are your thoughts? Would you be willing to download Chrome just to have this capability or would you like to see it ported to Firefox, Safari, IE, et al? For that matter, would you even take the time to report spam that you found in the first place? Do you see it as an generous offering from Google or a way to attract more attention to Chrome and make users do the work for them? Please chime in via the comments!

Download: Google Webspam Report Chrome Extension

Topics: Google, Security

About

Stephen is a freelance writer and blogger based in Charlotte, NC. His contributions to ZDNet cover topics related to security, gaming, Microsoft, Apple, and other topics of interest with a tech/SMB skew.

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