This Is Not A Solution To Comment Spam

by john on January 18, 2005

A few days ago Dave started to leak the rumor that something big was going on in the weblog world. Today it’s become official as announcements have started to come out about how web companies are coming together to address the serious problem of comment spam in weblogs.

The solution is support of the “rel=nofollow” tag to links added to comments on weblogs. The thinking is that any link that the owner of the site did not add themselves, i.e. in comments, should not be trusted and as such should not be included in calculating pagerank at Yahoo, Google, and other search engines.

Am I insane to think this is a really bad idea?

First of all, it isn’t going to solve anything. The spammers will still throw out their automated scripts hoping some shit sticks, and stick it will because not everyone is going to implement this.

Secondly, one of the reasons why weblogs do so well in Google is that many of us build relationship links through sites by adding constructive comments on related posts. This interlinking of sites through comments (good comments, mind you) is an appropriate way of judging the value of both the site the comment appears on and the site from which the commenter comes from.

The “rel=nofollow” tag solution is throwing the baby out with the bath water! Fix the damn problem instead.

Speaking of which I have gone from many, many spam a day to one or two a week just using a simple template change that the spammers still haven’t picked up on. Sure they will at some point but silence is so sweet for now. Use a page rank checker to see if this has impacted you.

[UPDATE] – I don’t usually agree with Andrew Orlowski but he nailed it with his comment on Russell’s post. I feel the same way. But to date I’m in the minority from what I’ve seen.

{ 5 comments } WebCites January 18, 2005 at 11:39 pm

This Is Not A Solution To Comment Spam

I can’t help but agree with this author that cutting off the page rank possibilities for spammers will not stop them. This is like email SPAM. It’s not just pagerank but getting in front of eyeballs on blogs….

Scott January 19, 2005 at 11:03 am

I couldn’t agree with you more about this. The new “rel=”nofollow” attribute, is a patch that Google is trying to emplement so that they don’t have to fix their algo.

I have a similar post on my blog. Glad to see that I am not the only one to feel that this will not work.

tom sherman January 20, 2005 at 11:26 pm

You may be in the minority, John, but you’re also in the right. People simply have not reflected about nofollow’s repercussions. When I have a bit more time, I’m going to collect my thoughts and post about the problems with this so-called solution. On the whole, it may be a good development, but it’s far from a panacea.

I’ll track ya back when I get my act together.

john January 20, 2005 at 11:37 pm

Thanks Tom. Obviously there has been a lot of discussion about this since I made that post but I still stand by it. I think it shows the power of Google, and not neccessarily in a good way, that they were able to get this “standard” pushed through so quickly. The grand puppet master.

Best comment I have seen on this was from John Battelle (

“But what bothers me is that there may well be an ecology that evolves based on the link mojo in comments which we can’t imagine, but that would be important and wonderful, and that will not develop if every comment has a tag telling search engines to ignore it. Like it or not, search engines are now processors of our collective reality, and fiddling with that requires some comtemplation.”

A Work In Progress January 22, 2005 at 12:09 pm

A Battle In Progress

My attempted comment spam solution.

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