Tag Archives: analysis

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

Giving Up on Social Bookmarking

In many occasions, I’ve considered placing link buttons or icons to social bookmarking Web sites since many users of such services could save a couple of clicks and page loads if ever they want to share my entries to other users. Most of the time when I go scouring the Web for interesting articles, I see more or less than a dozen link icons to those sites within the blog entries. But, I ask myself: Do I really need to place all these links just for users to select which one they’d prefer to use?

The primary concept of social bookmarking seemed better than those of search engines with Web spiders doing the hunting for articles compared to the hunting done by people, thus, the content would most likely be useful.

But the present situation of multiple users and multiple services all acting on a single entity [i.e., a blog entry, an article] can be quite messy to deal with especially since it does not conform to the social aspect of social bookmarking.

One major point of this is the emergence of all other bookmarking sites just after del.icio.us became popular. Since then, the aggregation of content [i.e., article bookmarks] became difficult because the proprietary nature of different social bookmarking sites prevents [e.g.] diggs and spurls from being counted together.

For example, if there are fifty different persons with each using a different social bookmarking Web site and they all bookmarked this page once on their respective service, it will still rank lower than a page marked only twice on just a single bookmarking site by only two people.

With all of these thoughts on how impure the social bookmarking trend came to be, I really could not come up with a decision whether or not I would be placing bookmark links on my entries. Currently, I still won’t be. But, if ever I will in the near future, I’d most probably use just one or two of the most popular services where you could:

More info about social bookmarking on Wikipedia with a list of more than 5 dozen social bookmarking Web sites.

ABS-CBN should timestamp their news

For those students who want to have a little break off from school: If you’ve read this news, which has been circulating as a reference during this past hours, you’d be happy. Of course, what you will be reading is the declaration of no classes on a Friday, which states no date on any part of the article, and no more. But if you follow the said declaration, you’d be marked absent tomorrow. Here are the reasons why:

  1. There’s no date when the article was posted nor a date when the suspension of classes should take place.
  2. At the end of the article, it stated that The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, gathered an additional 300 soldiers to augment crowd-control units for the 20th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.—meaning it was posted last February.
  3. And another thing, if you look at the StoryId on the URI and compare it with a more recent news’ StoryID, you’d notice that there should be 13,487 more articles between what’s posted in 7:51 AM (the time the article was posted) and today‘s 4:07 PM.

I admit I was scammed after a student council officer told me there really will be no classes for tomorrow. But, I was still skeptic about the article because of those things I’ve mentioned above. You be the judge. By the way, if you really want the proper guidance about the classes for tomorrow, read the article from INQ7.net.

ABS-CBN should really timestamp and datestamp their news.