Move over, comment spam: the latest Web 2.0 scourge is hereRash of Whiteboard Spam terrorizes Web 2.0 collaboration sites

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A few days ago, we stepped out of the Social Signal offices for a little brainstorming over lunch. We'd usually do that sort of thing here - we had our walls done with whiteboard paint for exactly that reason - but a change of scenery seemed to be in order.

About 90 minutes later, we returned, only to find this on our walls:

Whiteboard covered in spam subject lines

It's the same obnoxious scourge that hundreds of thousands of other offices are suddenly experiencing: whiteboard spam.

What ought to be a fantastic collaboration tool is suddenly becoming the playground of hucksters peddling everything from cheap pharmaceuticals to gambling to pornography.

The most dangerous, of course, is whiteboard phishing spam:

(whiteboard with a phony PayPal message)

According to one estimate, whiteboard spam has cost North American businesses a quarter of a billion dollars in cleaning fluid, eraser wear and lost productivity alone.

And while some governments have passed anti-whiteboard-spam laws, most of the spam points to whiteboards located in China and the former Soviet Union - well beyond their legislative reach.

Still, there is some hope. Whiteboard CAPTCHAs, for example, can stop robotic whiteboard spam (see videos of a prototype robot here) in its tracks:

A math question on a whiteboard

(There are legitimate concerns about accessibility, although these apply to whiteboard use generally as well.)

What's your experience with whiteboard spam? And how do you think we should respond to keep this important common space from being overtaken by spammers with Expo markers?

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