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A thousand monkeys filtering advertising

A common thread between the most effective forms of online advertising is the introduction of a hyperlink to a targeted user. In this respect, there is no difference between Google text ads, Orbitz pop-ups, and DoubleClick banner ads: for the advertisement to be effect, the viewer must follow a link.

The browser market is ripe for plugin that, like Vipul's Razor, harnesses the efforts of many humans to identify and block unwanted advertisements. Users have proven with the SpamNet that they are willing to flag spam for the greater good, as long as it serves them as well; browsers should provide a mechanism for them to do so. Once the browser detects a community-reported ad, it can automatically obscure it – or remove it completely.

This solution is in no way limited to banner ads. When a blog comment is identified by the community as spam, it can be hidden from view on all participating sites. When instant messenger spam is identified, it can be filtered before it ever reaches the client. When an RSS article is identified as an advertisement, it can be filtered by the reader before ever seeing the light of day.

As these systems are implemented (and linked together), mass advertising becomes less cost-effective — the less customized the advertisement, the sooner it'll be tagged by the community; the more customized the advertisement must be, the more expensive it is to produce. Since advertising can't succeed when costs outweigh income, at a certain critical point they'll start losing money on the ads. That's considered a "win" in my book.

Link: Blueblog wonders: "can I live in a spam free world?".

Link: Kalsey writes the comment spam manifesto; I support it fully.

Link: Kalsey's written about distributed comment spam blocking as well, and I never even realized. Must read.

Note: This'd be useful for preventing wiki link spam, as well; when someone tries to introduce a link that's believed to be advertising by the community, the change could be delayed pending approval — or rejected outright.

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