In episode number 227 of This Week in Google on the TWiT network, Google’s head of search spam Matt Cutts answered some questions from the hosts Leo Laporte and Jeff Jarvis. In one question, Matt explained that Google aims to “break the spirits” of spammers in order to encourage them to change their course of action.
The question was posed to Matt from Jeff Jarvis, a well-known journalist and professor, asking him what he learned about the psychology behind spam and spammers. Matt responded that to reduce spam, it is not just about denying the primary goal of earning money but frustrating them to a point, where you break their will and desire to spam.
I transcribed the exact words and how Matt said it:
If you want to stop spam, the most straight forward way to do it is to deny people money because they care about the money and that should be their end goal. But if you really want to stop spam, it is a little bit mean, but what you want to do, is sort of break their spirits. There are lots of Google algorithms specifically designed to frustrate spammers. Some of the things we do is give people a hint their site will drop and then a week or two later, their site actually does drop. So they get a little bit more frustrated. So hopefully, and we’ve seen this happen, people step away from the dark side and say, you know what, that was so much pain and anguish and frustration, let’s just stay on the high road from now on.
You can watch how he carefully says the words in the video starting at about 1 hour and 25 minutes in:
Matt said it works, breaking the spirits of spammers does work.