Monthly Archives: February 2007

On Nofollow, Spam and Plugins

When the search engine giant Google announced that it would implement the rel="nofollow" directive on its crawlers, most people had hopes it would be the end of comment spam, most especially when search competitors Yahoo! and MSN expressed support for the microformat as well.

But, as the years passed even with WordPress immediately supporting the rel="nofollow" attribute since its inception, comment spam attacks on AjaLapus.com increased so suddenly. The most probable cause of the increase is when my homepage’s PageRank increased to 6 last 29th of January rendering it more visible on SERPs. From 50 spams a day to up to 200, the weight of these spammers causes my server precious bandwidth and processing, and me of my time when checking for false positives. These spammers could just be turning a blind eye on rel="nofollow" as spamming costs almost—if not absolutely—nothing to spread.

From the words of Ben Hammersley:

If the playing field is levelled by rel="nofollow", then everyone involved will be forced to try all the harder to get their links out there. The blogosphere will be hit all the harder because of the need to maximise the gains.

Besides, them spammers are not only aiming to be displayed on SERPs, they are trying to be clicked on by human visitors as well. And, even when 99% of the blogs out there use rel="nofollow", the remaining 689,000[1] blogs that doesn’t could be easily found by mere crawling of these spambots on any link they could find. Why bother to scan for the use of rel="nofollow" when you could just post away spam as easily? These spammers affiliate with porn, pill and casino advertisers that earn thousands of dollars of revenue from clicks and visits from real people, consequently receiving commission from them—providing the motivation for more spamming.

But, has this initiative from Google done its job? Many people do not think so. Aside from Ben, other people thought of it as utter failure.

As Dylan Tweney may put it:

Worse, nofollow has another, more pernicious effect, which is that it reduces the value of legitimate comments.

It would also reduce the motivation to comment on blogs thinking that there’s no way we could benefit from reacting on someone else’s blog entry since our links would be regarded as nonexistent. So much for Web 2.0 and Web interaction. I know I have experienced this a lot of times before, though it has somehow dissipated with these realizations.

Jeremy Zawodny has a better angle about this matter:

I’ve seen that first hand. The “psychology of linking” did change in a fairly obvious way after nofollow started.

….

Look. Linking is part of what makes the web work. If you’re actually concerned about every link you make being counted in some global database of site endorsements, you’re probably over-thinking just a bit.

Straight to the point. So what do I do now since WordPress has no way of deactivating the addition of rel="nofollow" on comment URIs except for hacking into the source code? I’ve looked through Andy Beard‘s Ultimate List of DoFollow Plugins and found two different plugins that suits my taste:

I currently use Kimmo’s DoFollow as it was the first one that got me interested. But, I think I need input from you guys: Which of the two do you think would be better to motivate commenters on my blog? The one in which they know their links would eventually be followable [DoFollow], or the other in which they’d have to accomplish a somehow obtrusive number of comments[2] on the whole site before their links would be followable [Link Love]?

If you’re thinking that I may be then vulnerable to spam comments gaining ranking from my site: I wouldn’t worry, since Akismet has done a good[3] job of screening spam for me. I think Dougal Campbell made me realize this.

And, I am planning to add another plugin that automatically closes comments on older entries that most spammers tend to target. I know there exists such plugins, I just can’t find them right know. Do you know any? How long should I make entries commentable? I have been receiving legitimate comments on older entries occasionally—a reason why I still haven’t decided about this kind of plugin yet. Maybe you could help me.

Oh, by the way, there also exists 11 reasons against nofollow from a German site dedicated against the use of rel="nofollow". And, more reasons from Loren Baker, which could be what you really need to understand that nofollow is not the answer.

Notes:

  1. ^ as Technorati currently tracks 68.9 million blogs
  2. ^ 10 comments as default—a somehow large number for a non-frequently updated Web log like this
  3. ^ not great, though—as there has been about 0.1% of false positives that occured

Towards a Standards Compliant Web

Several weeks ago, with the discussions on and my involvement with WaSP ILG and recently with PWAG, I was struck by the idea of forming an advocacy group here in the Philippines concerning Web standards. I immediately asked two of my standards-loving friends, Shari and Lexie, if they are also interested. Though we sometimes had conference chats regarding the topic, we still haven’t been able to formally talk about our goals and objectives. All I know is that we sure love to promote standards to every Web-aware Filipino.[1]

We thought about inviting some other standards-aware individuals and professionals, but we could never know them all [though Shari has already mentioned quite a few]. I guess I also like the idea of volunteering as this would constitute better involvement on the possible discussions that will be held regarding the matter. So if anyone would like to join the advocacy wholeheartedly, speak up! We will be very glad to hear from you. We are taking steps little by little towards a standards compliant Web.

On the other side of the story, you may notice Filipino/Tagalog translations[2] on the International Liaison Group pages from the Web Standards Project. Those were translated by yours truly with the help of my mother and my friend Shari. We aren’t very good translators, so if you notice [some] mistakes—given the fact there are virtually no literal translation for every single English word, and most technical Filipino words are just borrowed—and you know you could help us, I am so much willing to receive some assistance. :)

By the way, I have written an article for Bite Size Standards about styling inline list items. I would eventually post them here if ever they consider it useful and worthy of being included in their archive. I have considered writing the article for A List Apart, but I feel it seems a bit overreaching. I sent the article to them [BSS] on the 6th of February 2007. I guess am slowly realizing I am running out of luck—there are only two days left before their expected processing duration of one to two weeks comes to an end.

Notes:

  1. ^ though Shari may have been a little bit sarcastic about it
  2. ^ examples include:

Tagged—I’m It!

My mind is filled with everything I am concerned with right now the only thing left to happen is for it to explode. But, at the same time I could not tell which to write—from my point of view on the future of HTML to my own personal life to the things happening at school. Then, I was tagged by Shari. Since I haven’t got anything concrete to blog, might as well go on with the meme. Now, here are:

Ten weird facts about myself.

  1. I could spend over half a day everyday [literally] reading encyclopedias and fact books or articles.
  2. I love solving logic books, puzzles and games.
  3. I could only sing well—I think—inside a Church with a lot of other people, or in my room alone.
  4. I am not used to wearing anything other than my clothes and a little hair conditioner. (i.e., perfume, facial powder, moisturizer, etc.)
  5. I never liked WYSIWYG editors.
  6. I thought being exposed to bright light could really make anyone sneeze[1] until I’ve read about this condition.
  7. I sometimes practice writing with my left hand.[2] I could, however, do many things at ease using either hand. (i.e., texting, typing, eating, shooting basketballs)
  8. I am a neat freak only outside my own bedroom.
  9. I enjoy being involved in a lot of organizations, but I hate too much red tape.[3]
  10. *place one more weird fact here*[4] :P

I really hope I get out of this blogger’s block soon. *tee-hee*

Hmm … Who would I tag next? I really do not know who reads my entries. Lurkers de-lurk! Alright—Arvin, Andy and Erna—Tag! You’re it!or them?

Oh, this entry could really add to my trivia page—not that it really concerns you. :D

Notes:

  1. ^ I do sneeze whenever I am exposed to bright light; I thought it was normal
  2. ^ for my mother told me I could when I was little
  3. ^ especially those where my superiors are the ones who cannot agree with each other
  4. ^ maybe it’s time you tell me one weird fact you know about me. ;)

An Appeal to Globe Subscribers

Globe Telecom has raised the UNLIMITXT service charges they require of their subscribers since today. From PHP 10[1] to PHP 20 per day, the rebranded service UNLITXT with the doubled rates frustrated a lot of subscribers given the fact that they weren’t warned even a couple of days before the implementation of such scheme.

I was one of those frustrated, surprised customers.

My girlfriend and I have always been registering for the service at almost the same time. Yesterday was the end of our five-day registration last time. Since it was almost midnight, we put off registering for another five days to today. But when we did register during noontime earlier, we were surprised to have received a different response from the service. It wasn’t the type that postpones the registration for later because of server overload. The message so long it could not be contained in a single message looked like the spam they always send us. But, I read it anyway….

They’ve changed a lot about their service—from UNLIMITXT to just UNLITXT; from 50 Pesos for five days to 80 for just four. And, they added time-based unlimited texting packages such as UNLITXTD or UNLITXTN corresponding to day and night, respectively.

Now, who the hell is so trustworthy enough that just pops out without warning and tells you to pay more than what you used to? No one. Even Globe shouldn’t be an exception.

People thought they received just rumors about Globe’s increased rates. But, they weren’t rumors as I told my friends. Please take note that many people changed their numbers to Globe since they put their UNLIMITXT promo to a regular service—count me and my girlfriend in. But we’re dusting our old Sun SIM cards for tomorrow since Globe’s shitful of services are robbing us off of our money.

I ask of you to do the same. Not only for two to three weeks just like what’s spreading through SMS—they would just wait that off until people start registering again. We should hold them back until they lower their prices again.

Globe has better signal, thus, better service than Sun. That doesn’t mean they should increase their pricing so surprisingly exorbitant—their prices weren’t even at par with Sun in the first place. Why can’t they keep their prices where they were? I know they know its easier to get a lot more customers with better pricing. But, now that they did with the former prices of their service, they shouldn’t think we’d stay with them now that they increased them so suddenly.

Now, if you feel the same way, please let people know by posting similar entries to your blogs and commenting on each other’s posts. Petitions could go a long way as long as there are lots of support and publicity.

Update: I have finally found a petition site for the rollback of Globe’s UNLIMITXT rates. Sign the petition to roll back Globe UNLIMITXT pricing!

Footnotes:

  1. ^ with the five-day plan worth PHP 50