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 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.
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 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 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.