a typical comment was that Rand Fishkin has taken outing to a new level.
At best, he has taken social linkbaiting to a new low. Let's hope Rand's not serious about outing sites in the ways proposed. Beyond the questionable ethics of it, he would be releasing a tool where false negatives might be as dangerous in the long run as false positives.
I can perhaps see legit value of such scoring... if a site's spam-score were available only
to the registered owners of the sites being scored. Absent feedback from Google, an outside view of one's own site might for some be of interest. But making simplistic spam scores available publicly, thus exposing sites... particularly sites trying to build themselves out of hole... would, IMO, be unconscionable.
Equally disturbing to me is the confused logic trying to justify selling the information. On the one hand, it's being pushed as a tool to help webmasters and SEOs build Google-friendly links, but, as I remember Google's guidelines, Google wants to rank sites on the basis of "editorial votes" that are "freely given".
Not being naive about it, I nevertheless feel compelled to ask... how is a tool that gives SEOs a "spam score" of other sites on the web going to help build such freely given links? That's muddying the waters quite a bit. Assuming Google is smarter or more discriminating than SEOmoz or its customers, now or in the future, it might be downright dangerous. This is the false negative I was talking about.
As a tool for cleaning up sites... I think current tools are adequate, and they don't go around carving scarlet letters.
Regarding the possibility of social linkbaiting... I truly hope all this is only linkbait, perhaps <conjecture>
leading up to a fallback position where, say, "after consultation with lawyers about the danger of false positives"
, SEOmoz decides to limit access to the site information to the owners of those sites, who in turn agree to register and confer some legitimacy to SEOmoz's mythical crawler (see notes below)
. Arguably, this would be a questionable way to get an opt-in, as those sites not appearing in the SEOmoz index might by implication be tarred with the same brush as spammers, but, moving forward since its venture financing of a couple of weeks ago, SEOmoz might want to be seen as having a well-behaved bot with a named user-agent. </conjecture>
There would also be the question of ownership of such data. Regarding that, and the SEOmoz crawler, see these discussions... SEOmoz Crawler/Bot http://www.webmasterworld.com/search_engine_spiders/3759661.htm
[webmasterworld.com] The SEOmoz Linkscape Ghost by Pierre Far
...] Ecommerce: The Ethics And Value In Scraping, or Data Mining http://www.webmasterworld.com/ecommerce/3902682-5-30.htm