Departmental Papers (CIS)

Document Type

Conference Paper

Subject Area

CPS Internet of Things

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

West, Andrew G., Chang, Jian, Venkatasubramanian, Krishna, Sokolsky, Oleg, and Lee, Insup. Link Spamming Wikipedia for Profit. In CEAS '11: Proc. of the 8th Annual Collaboration, Electronic Messaging, Anti-Abuse, and Spam Conference, pp. 152-161, Perth, Australia, September 2011 (co-Best Paper Award).

© ACM, 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version is available at http:/ Email


Collaborative functionality is an increasingly prevalent web technology. To encourage participation, these systems usually have low barriers-to-entry and permissive privileges. Unsurprisingly, ill-intentioned users try to leverage these characteristics for nefarious purposes. In this work, a particular abuse is examined -- link spamming -- the addition of promotional or otherwise inappropriate hyperlinks.

Our analysis focuses on the "wiki" model and the collaborative encyclopedia, Wikipedia, in particular. A principal goal of spammers is to maximize *exposure*, the quantity of people who view a link. Creating and analyzing the first Wikipedia link spam corpus, we find that existing spam strategies perform quite poorly in this regard. The status quo spamming model relies on link persistence to accumulate exposures, a strategy that fails given the diligence of the Wikipedia community. Instead, we propose a model that exploits the latency inherent in human anti-spam enforcement.

Statistical estimation suggests our novel model would produce significantly more link exposures than status quo techniques. More critically, the strategy could prove economically viable for perpetrators, incentivizing its exploitation. To this end, we address mitigation strategies.


collaboration, link spam, wiki, measurement study, spam attack model, defense strategies


Date Posted: 07 September 2011

This document has been peer reviewed.