Hmmm... Plaxo's Pulse lets me see people's 'stream' without them agreeing to me being a connection!
Chris Brogan's "Social Media Toolkit" - a great list to get started.

Humans being paid to add blog comment spam to LiveJournal

In recent weeks, it has become increasing clear to me that someone out there is paying people to spam blogs at LiveJournal. As readers probably know, I've had for about 4 years now and although it's not my primary blog anymore, I still use it for writing that doesn't fit in anywhere else.  I am notified by email when a comment comes in and lately they have pretty much all been short spam messages along the form:

Very exciting story! I like snow skiing and i practise it regularly, so i
completely understand you! <URL-related-to-skiing>

I of course removed the URL as I'm not going to help the spammer.  This particular comment was to a post of mine back in February about the blizzard we had and the only real reference to skiing was the very last line.

This kind of spam has been increasing for me lately with the same basic idea.  A very short comment that is tied into the text of the post.  One spammer even ends the entries with a name, as many other real commenters might do.  In fact, the comments look real, and often are the kind of thing I might very well let stand as a comment.... until you hit the URL and realize that this is just someone trying to sell stuff.

It's an interesting change at LiveJournal.  For so long LJ was "protected" from all the usual crap blog comment spam that plagues all my other blogs by the way commenting works at LJ.  To comment on a blog post, you have to either be a LiveJournal user, or you can leave your comment as "Anonymous".  However, if you leave your comment as "Anonymous", you can't leave a URL associated with your name (as you can do on this blog and most others out there).  This lack of a URL for commenters was actually one of the reasons I chose to leave LJ as my primary blogging platform.  I wanted to know more about the people who commented.

However, this "lack" of a URL turned out to be a great anti-comment-spam feature.  Spammers who were leaving comments with their spam site in the URL field were basically useless on LJ. I'd often laugh because I'd see the same blog comment spam showing up on TypePad (where I could see the URL) as I did on LJ - only on LJ it was ineffective.

It would seem, though, that someone out there figured out a way to make blog comment spam work.  It would appear as if someone is paying people to go around finding quasi-relevant blog entries on LJ and leave comment spam - with an appended URL.   It was probably inevitable... but it's also quite sad.  And it means more work for someone who just wants to write.