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

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.

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TOPICS: Google, Security
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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

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29 comments
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  • All I have to say about that is

    If Microsoft did something for BING and only made it available in IE the Antitrust/Anticompetitive Lawsuits would come flowing in.
    bobiroc
    • Definitely.

      @bobiroc That does seem to be the pattern for Microsoft when they do something for the benefit of their own products, huh?
      StephenChapman
      • RE: Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

        @StephenChapman

        Its a double standard if you ask me. I know maybe back in the day Microsoft probably played a bit of hardball that teetered on breaking the law and maybe it even stepped over the line on. I still do not believe today that Microsoft's sole reason for including IE with their operating system was to push Netscape out of business but was done at least partially/mostly to include a program to allow access to the internet as the internet was becoming a primary function of using a computer. Even today Microsoft still gets hounded about IE in Windows and yet ever other OS includes a browser of their choice or made by the same company as the OS but they get made excuses for because they have a different Business Model or some crap. Microsoft has alleviated some of this by pushing things to the "cloud" so to speak available for free and optional download. Even today with the rapid growth of free and optional applications like Security Essentials some are claiming that Microsoft is using unfair practices to make it so that people use Microsoft's solution over another free solution or even paid solution. I mean it couldn't have anything to do with that it is a good free solution to protect computers for Malware that is easy to use and understand and also is light on the computer resources could it? You are always going to have ignorant computer users that cannot grasp the simple concept of looking somewhere else for a software alternative and will stick with the ones that are on the computer but I still believe that when you purchase a computer the OEM or the maker of the Operating system should give you enough to use the computer for the most popular functions out of the box.
        bobiroc
      • RE: Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

        @StephenChapman

        Apples and Oranges...

        Google doesn't have contracts with OEM's refusing to sell them their product if they do business with their competitors.

        Google gives away Chrome, gives away web search, if people choose to use their product it's not because they have constrained the channels so that getting access to an alternative is difficult.
        wzrobin
    • RE: Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

      @bobiroc: there is a HUGE difference between adding an IE only feature to Bing and adding a feature to IE... Google are adding a feature to Chrome, not adding a Chrome only feature to Google.com

      Re: anticompetitive lawsuits:
      Microsoft has proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that the monopolization they were looking for by integrating IE6 as an irremovable part of windows was a bad thing, not only for their customers, but for the web industry. It's been a pain in the ass for web developers and a holding back of web technology progression for almost a decade. Let's not pretend that we didn't get pwned by Microsoft's anticompetitive practices on this one.

      What's hilarious to me, is that Microsoft shot themselves in the foot when they got YEARS behind in the browser market as the web is now what most of us do with our computers, most of the time. Now that they are about to turn there own browser around (IE9 looks like it might actually not suck), they've done the one thing that could guarantee slow adoption - decided not to release it on the most popular operating system in the world (by no small margin) WindowsXP.

      Obviously they're vying to bolster Windows7 sales with the carrot of IE9, but IE9, much as it's inline with other modern browsers, really doesn't add anything *beyond* other browsers. Why would anyone buy Windows7 to get browser features that Chrome and Firefox already have?
      blakjak.au
  • Breaking news!

    A third-party software maker releases a new application that's for WINDOWS ONLY. Note the pattern here...

    And besides, if that's what they want to do, it's their toys and their sandbox. You're free to buy in, or not...
    vikingnyc@...
    • RE: Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

      @vikingnyc@... I think you missed my point. If Google really wants to make a difference and improve the results of their search engine (for them AND everyone who uses it), then why only stick to "their toys and their sandbox?"

      I mean, yeah, if you're a Chrome user, then you're free to buy in; but if you're not, then you're not missing out on anything because who cares about actually taking the time to report spam? No one... unless they're given an option to install this little plug-in and simply click a button whenever they're on a site or searching Google.

      Like I said, I don't like Chrome, but I still use it every now and again. Even with that being the case, I'm still not going to download that extension because I don't browse using Chrome. Give it to everyone in Firefox or something WAY more popular than Chrome and Google would benefit exponentially more, I think.
      StephenChapman
      • RE: Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

        @StephenChapman It makes sense to me that they'd offer it for their own browser first. If it's any good [I haven't used it yet] it'll probably become available for other browsers.
        Badge3832
  • I'm fine with Google releasing a Web spam reporting extension

    for <b>Google Chrome</b>/<b>Chromium</b> ; as a Firefox user I also hope that someone will take the initiative to create an add-on which serves the same purposes for my default browser. As to <b>Chrome</b>'s market share, I fear Stephen isn't quite up to date ; according to <b>StatCounter</b>'s Global Stats, the browser's market share worldwide now exceeds 13 % (goo.gl/6lPY)....<br><br>Henri</b></b>
    mhenriday
    • RE: Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

      @mhenriday Is that just based on StatCounter data? I'm trying to figure out just who the industry utilizes as the standard for analyzing browser market share. In the mean time, I've edited my percentages in the article slightly to compensate for more leeway between conflicting data.<br><br>-Stephen
      StephenChapman
  • soon on safari

    sure it will be ported to safari as chrome is based on apple's "open source" webkit, i actually just downloaded yesterday an extension for my mac safari 5, and found out it was a google one ported to safari.
    LionSaba
  • Doesn't seem particularly nefarious to me

    ... Google doesn't need 100,000,000 reports of every spam-site or spam-sighting, only enough to draw reasonable inferences that some web-location is spamsville.

    So this is probably just a convenient way of implementing a sampling technique. Could be a biased sample, but maybe that's even good; they could have info or suspicions that hard-core Google adopters who use Chrome as their primary browser are more likely to donate time & effort to cleaning up the www, or maybe those users are more tolerant of experimentation.

    Presumably Google hopes to incorporate whatever it finds into its search algorithms. Nothing in the article or speculations suggests that Google intends to limit any benefits of this effort to just users of its own Chrome browser.
    Doug_Dame@...
  • RE: Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

    Because I asked for it.

    http://twitter.com/#!/steveplunkett/status/14853003458

    I use Chrome and when @mattcutts asked for "What kind of Chrome Extensions would you want to see?"

    It's easier to report Spam when on the search result with an extension.. Google Chrome has login credentials into a Google user account, which is the preferred method of reporting webspam.

    http://twitter.com/#!/mattcutts/status/14861913630
    steveplunkett
  • RE: Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

    I use chrome 90% of the time anyway because it is noticeably faster...so the argument is academic really. Certainly IE has been used to manipulate market share and you reap what you sow ... so M$ shouldn't bleat about this. Are Google attempting to enter the OS market? Is there such a thing anymore? I regularly use triple booting/or virtualised equivalents comprised of W7, OS X and Ubuntu. I am pretty agnostic about the OS, it has become a whole lot less compelling in the last decade, once the browser sold the OS, now the browser is replacing the OS. Remind me again ...when did Apple or M$ give away their OS? Why shouldn't Google protect their core business in exactly the same way they did?
    leigh@...
  • Why only for Chrome?

    Because they are trying to promote Chrome. And that's fair enough. The practices M$oft has gotten into trouble for (and upset customers) are the restrictive ones. No-one should mind when any manufacturer adds actual functionality -- especially free.

    Chrome is already my primary browser - I prefer the cleaner simpler interface. I have only continued (and continue) to use Firefox for the stuff it does that Chrome can't or couldn't. Chrome is getting steadily better, and this should help.
    timdp
  • RE: Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

    here's the Billion dollar question for everyone : Good or Evil: Have We Shared Too Much w/ Facebook, Google & Apple ? http://ityb.it/2p8Hr is the best info graphic i have seen that gets it in perspective..
    @...
  • RE: Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

    After viewing the privacy policy for Chrome, I decided not to install it. Otherwise it would be OK.
    opcom
  • RE: Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

    I'm pretty sure that Comcast Internet is doing the same type of thing with its own email client, through Zimbra, that it provides through the service, except you just hit the Spam button instead of delete and it goes to a seperate folder for about a day.
    jack247@...
  • Simple reason

    Google completely controls both the Web spam tool and the browser it runs in. So it can make changes on both products as needed. Retrofitting to another browser might be possible but who knows how much extra programming time it would take? Also, Google may want to get some "street mileage" under its belt from its Chrome users before spending time figuring out how to retrofit it to other browsers.
    PC Ferret
  • RE: Google Releases A Web Spam Reporting Extension For Google Chrome, But Why Only For Chrome?

    I think that google does, what it need to does ....
    Google should be able to protect their products ...

    If you were paying for a product, that would be different.
    bjgowan@...