Ebiquity has taken a look at the ping-o-sphere - specifically, at the pings that hit servers like weblogs.com. The results are not terribly surprising - around 3/4ths of all pings are bogus:
In the next step we used our work on splog detection to detect splogs (and hence spings) among the english blogs. Our detection mechanism is close to 90% accurate. As shown in the charts below pings from blogs average around 8K per hour and those from splogs average around 25K. [ed: follow the link for the charts]
Clearly almost 3 out of 4 pings are spings! Going back further to the source of these spings, we observed that more than 50% of claimed blogs pinging weblogs.com are splogs.
Ouch. That means that any of the services that rely on pings are going to end up using (or, are already using) the same kinds of techniques that email clients and servers use to identify spam. Of course, with that, we get false positives (i.e., good messages getting junked).
So that got me thinking about the piece Doc Searls did awhile back on the net, the carriers, and who charges what. Specifically, I came back to this:
There's nothing wrong with being in the bandwidth business, of course. But some of these big boys want to go farther with it. They don't see themselves as a public utility selling a pure base-level service, such as water or electricity (which is what they are, by the way, in respect to the Net). They see themselves as a source of many additional value-adds, inside the pipes. They see opportunities to sell solutions to industries that rely on the Net--especially their natural partner, the content industry.
They see a problem with freeloaders. On the tall end of the power curve, those 'loaders are AOL, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other large sources of the container cargo we call "content". Out on the long tail, the freeloaders are you and me. The big 'loaders have been getting a free ride for too long and are going to need to pay. The Information Highway isn't the freaking interstate. It's a system of private roads that needs to start charging tolls. As for the small 'loaders, it hardly matters that they're a boundless source of invention, innovation, vitality and new business. To the carriers, we're all still just "consumers". And we always will be.
Well, the spammers are also freeloaders. A large part of the problem is the simple fact that - unlike sending physical junk mail - the cost for sending junk email, or setting up splogs (or sending out pings from them) is pretty much zero. Now, I'm not saying that the carriers are "the good guys" - far from it. But one of the complexities that Doc didn't really touch on is why the public - and a fair amount of the technically literate public - might be willing to go along with their vision. Net users are inundated by junk mail, web searches are clogged by bozo results, and real (and reported) virus/worm attacks are perceived to be rampant.
If the carriers get the things Doc is afraid of, these things will be a large part of the reason.