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Buried brunettes beg for help

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Analysis In the beginning, MySpace was a place to meet new friends and get to know old ones even better by browsing their journals, photos and network of chums.

But soon, Viagra marketers, pedophiles and hackers latched onto MySpace and rendered it as ineffective as most other net-based public forums.

It came to resemble one of the many usenet discussion groups teetering on collapse from all the find-love-now messages - only it had pink borders and piped crappy R&B divas pining for lost love.

Even in the noise, some MySpace denizens still found ways to build communities. MySpace Groups proved a popular way for like-minded people from all over the world to exchange photos, videos and comments on topics related to all kinds of subjects, from html to art and hip hop. But now even many of these bastions of civility have been overrun with saboteurs who seem intent on completely shutting down the forums. In many cases, they have won.

Case in point: Kristina Bartley, who in early 2005 started the MySpace group Brunettes Kick Ass. For a while, it was a vibrant place for people to gather to discuss all kinds of stuff, be it word associations, haiku games or their favorite booze. Then it was hit by a blizzard of spam that Bartley has never successfully been able to dig out from underneath. One day a spammer posted 15 pages worth of crap. MySpace eventually canceled the spammer's account and also deleted the text contained in the mass messages, but unfortunately, the postings remained in the group's index. That meant members had to sift through 15 pages of blank postings before finding legit ones.

A few days later, a new spammer left 500 pages worth of postings. Bartley eventually converted the group to private, so people would have to receive her explicit permission before being able to post messages. But even this has done nothing to stem the viral wave of crap, which in many cases includes postings of some of the vilest porn known to man. To make matters worse, the vandals have figured out a way to ban her most vocal supporters from accessing the group, so they are unable to participate in any meaningful way.

"A few months ago there would be a post a minute in this group and now it's sometimes one every hour," Bartley says. "It's sad to see something I've worked on so hard fall apart in the hands of a spammer.. and no help from MySpace."

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