Blekko, the recently launched search engine that relies on the community to help maintain relevancy, has launched "The Spam Clock". This is essentially a counter that displays the number of spam pages created since the year started.
"Every hour 1 million new spam pages are created," the page proglaims. You can watch the number rise in realtime, though it's unclear exactly what Blekko considers a spam page exactly. The page does warn that spammers are out to harm users, steal publisher traffic, and defraud advertisers, so presumably anything Blekko perceives to fall into one of these categories is being counted.
"It's designed to give a representation of how quickly the Web is being littered with trash," a representative for Blekko tells WebProNews. "Honestly, it's a problem that deserves more attention than it is getting. Soon, surfing the web will be a worse experience than email. And spam is quickly becoming responsible for a kind of global sweatshop where people are paid little more than a nickel for creating web pages designed to do nothing but display advertising."
Blekko founder Rich Skrenta essentially elaborates on this point in a post on his personal blog. "I consider myself a glass half full kind of guy, but it's hard to remain optimistic about the future of the World Wide Web," he says. "I think it's fantastic that my kids have access in real time to almost every piece of information and knowledge in the world. But ever since we started working on Blekko, I've become exposed to the dark side of the Internet."
"Scratch below the surface of all this great information, or in our case dig deep below the surface, and it is shocking what is happening to the Internet," he continues. "Millions upon millions of pages of junk are being unleashed on the web, a virtual torrent of pages designed solely to generate a few pennies in ad revenue for its creator. I fear that we are approaching a tipping point, where the volume of garbage soars beyond and overwhelms the valuable of what is on the web. Look at what has happened to email: Microsoft estimates that 90 percent of the mail that passes through its hotmail servers is spam."
Search industry analyst Danny Sullivan suggests the spam clock is a way for Blekko to put pressure on Google, though to be fair, there is no mention of Google whatsoever on the Spam Clock page or in Skrenta's rant. While noting that Google does have its problems with spam, Sullivan also says, " I don’t know that Google's relevancy has actually decreased."
Whether or not the spam clock represents a message to Google, there's no question that the web is indeed being littered with "trash". Even Google CEO Eric Schmidt famously called the Internet a "cesspool".