If an href tag includes the rel="nofollow" attribute, well-behaved search engines won’t follow the links they represent when spidering. So if there was a way to automatically modify the links that comment spammers leave in comments, their chief goal — raising their standings in the search engines — would be deflated.

SixApart has just released the nofolllow plugin, which scans incoming comments and adds rel="nofollow" to each embedded link automatically. Normal users are not affected — they can still click the links. But the simple presence of links to spammer’s sites will do nothing whatsoever for their GoogleRanks.

The downside, as I see it, is that for this to be effective, it must be intalled in the majority of weblogs. Spammers need to understand that their campaigns are flaccid, and that won’t be true until most of the world is using a solution like this.

Just installed nofollow at birdhouse and at the J-School.

Music: African Head Charge :: Far Away Chant

4 Replies to “nofollow”

  1. I’m still wondering why we simply don’t use that “graphical text” thingy in our comment entry forms ? You know, that (randomly-generated?) graphic showing a number or something, which then has to be copied into a textfield by the commenter… Even SixApart’s TypeKey uses it (on their sign-up page), and I’m flabbergasted as to why we don’t have that option [to implement it] yet in MT itself ? To me, that seems the only viable solution preventing comment spamming altogether. Or am I stupid and missing something ?

  2. Guy, the chief objection to “capchas” is that they’re inaccessible to the blind. There is an MT capcha plugin, though I’ve heard it has some issues. Honestly, comment spam hasn’t been a problem for me since the last round of upgrades, and since MT-Blacklist has been doing regular updates of the master list. But I’d still like to do my part to deflate the phenomenon as much as possible.

    Of course I’d rather not have comment spam than just be blacklisting it, and I’d definitely consider a capcha solution alongside something like TypeKey.


    Challenge: Won’t “nofollow” also deflate the GoogleCred for legitimate URLs posted in my blog?

    Answer: Yes, but if people are posting their own URLs, they’re essentially linking to themselves, using my blog as a platform. GoogleCred shouldn’t be awarded for links to oneself.

    Counter-challenge: What about legit links to sites that aren’t my own in the comments I leave on your blog? Shouldn’t they get GoogleCred?

    Answer: No good answer. This is a very good point and a reason to consider not using nofollow. But it might unfortunately be the price we pay for cutting off the problem at the root.

  3. I think LJ has an audio captcha (you dropped the T in captcha, which is the most important one imho as it is for Turing Test) option for it’s captchas… Of course, this still excludes blind and deaf users, but at least it is something.. :)

  4. In my opinion, nofollow is not the right way to limit comment spam. A simple use of captchas is a good enough deterrent.. while it may inconvenience genuine people, but there’s a fair price to pay. Also, it could be programmatically arranged that people on your blogroll would be able to comment without the need for validating captcha text….

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