Computer Science

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Search Engines have greatly influenced the way we experience the web. Since the early days of the web, users have been relying on them to get informed and make decisions. When the web was relatively small, web directories were built and maintained using human experts to screen and categorize pages according to their characteristics. By the mid 1990’s, however, it was apparent that the human expert model of categorizing web pages does not scale. The first search engines appeared and they have been evolving ever since, taking over the role that web directories used to play.

But what need makes a search engine evolve? Beyond the financial objectives, there is a need for quality in search results. Search engines know that the quality of their ranking will determine how successful they are. Search results, however, are not simply based on well-designed scientific principles, but they are influenced by web spammers. Web spamming, the practice of introducing artificial text and links into web pages to affect the results of web searches, has been recognized as a major search engine problem. It is also a serious users problem because they are not aware of it and they tend to confuse trusting the search engine with trusting the results of a search.

In this paper, we analyze the influence that web spam has on the evolution of the search engines and we identify the strong relationship of spamming methods on the web to propagandistic techniques in society. Our analysis provides a foundation for understanding why spamming works and offers new insight on how to address it. In particular, it suggests that one could use social anti-propagandistic techniques to recognize web spam.


Metaxas P.T. (2010) Web Spam, Social Propaganda and the Evolution of Search Engine Rankings. In: Cordeiro J., Filipe J. (eds) Web Information Systems and Technologies. WEBIST 2009. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, vol 45. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg