Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

No Following

In case you’ve missed the big announcement from Google , Yahoo and MSN, I’m now using the rel="nofollow" attribute on all links in user-editable areas. What this means is that any links that are posted in comments and trackbacks will not offer any link ranking benefit to the linked site, thus diliting the major incentive for comment spammers.
MT users can install a plugin which automatically modifies the relevant tags to make the trick work. Users of TypePad will find the change has been made automatically and a fix for LiveJournal is on its way. WordPress users can install this plugin. For more, see Six Apart’s announcement.
This is very, very good news. I don’t expect it to entirely defeat comment spam but the spammers are going to have to get very crafty to get around it. That said, it’s only effective if everyone implements it and gives the spammers nowhere to hide.
Note: If you’re using SimpleComments, trackbacks will not use the new attribute by default with the MT plugin. You’ll need to modify your links manually.

14 Comments

  1. Sorry, I don’t see this as particularly exciting. It’ll take people time to implement it, so the spammers aren’t going to stop immediately. Anybody likely to install this will already have a spam filter. So surely all it’s going to do is stop legitimate links being picked up by Google, whilst any comment spam not being stopped by your filter will still be displayed for people to click on.

  2. Nofollowing

    I’ve decided to add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to hyperlinks in user comments. I was thinking of tinkering with the codebase, but found out through Neil that there’s a plugin for MT that bakes the cake. Update: It worked. Read more about the initiati…

  3. I have to agree with Lordrich, I doubt it will be that effective. There will still be hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs that don’t implement this.
    Along with this, it *might* discourage some commenters who want PageRank as a reward for commenting (although I doubt pagerank is of concern of that many commenters).

  4. Well on here I’m still using the ‘Friend of Foe’ approved commenters list which means that anyone on that list who comments will get a normal link and not one with the nofollow attribute. However that doesn’t yet affect links within comments, just the content of the URL field.
    I think only time will tell if this is effective or not.

  5. Like many others, I don’t think this will help much. I don’t want to have to install another plugin as I am already having problems with my MT install. I would like to see thia added to friendorfoe though if possible.

  6. I also concur with the above posters. I don’t understand how this would benefit me as a MTBlacklist user; I’m not concerned about spam showing up on my blog but rather keeping it from getting submitted for moderation in the first place. MTB does that for me, but how would nofollow be involved?

  7. Meredith: In your case, where you moderate all comments anyway, this would be of no use to you. It is aimed at people who do not enforce moderation – and is basically saying that “although this link is my site, I may have not put it there nor do I intend it to be there, so do not trust it”. If you vet all comments before they are shown, then you would only approve the ones you wanted and therefore you control the output.

  8. No Follow

    Bloggers now have a new weapon in their arsenal. The rel=”nofollow” attribute for links. Six Apart has announced in co-operation with Google, Yahoo and MSN Search and many other blog vendors a massive joint anti-spam initiative based on this new…

  9. This is really nice. It is a shame it will not stop comment spam any time soon.
    One thing I really like about this is that it works on trackback URLs as well. That has been my biggest gripe about MT, lack of trackback moderation. Now at least the links have nofollow attached to them.

  10. I think Scoble had a point when he mentioned it was an effective way of editiorial control. i.e. you can link to something you do don’t approve with ot fear of supporting them (i.e raising their page rank.)
    But I’m not sure what the effect vis-a-vis spam will be.

  11. Just thought I’d take a moment to mention that there’s a rather nice plugin implementation of this for ExpressionEngine Users as well. It can even be set to only add the link to non-registered comments or use the whitelist to allow page rank for known links if you wish.

  12. Imagine the Web without pagerank

    Imagine a Web with pagerank, Google created it. Pagerank is the value of a page, in the search results of Google, based on the number of pages doing an hyperlink to the page in question, and on their respective ranks. The more a page is successful, …

  13. For WordPress users, I have an alternate plugin, based on an idea about nofollow I thought sounded great. Since he didn’t release his and I got impatient, I modified a friend’s plugin (which happens to be the one linked in this post) so that it only adds nofollow to links less then 10 days old.
    This stops nofollow from completely obliterating the pagerank advantage, but merely delays the effects 10 days, creating a window with which to delete or edit unwanted links, so they can’t siphon pagerank from your site 🙂
    http://collingrady.com/2005/01/23/wp-temp-nofollow/

  14. I installed this plugin and found that it completely eliminated all of my CSS and other formatting. Basically, anything within the MTPINGS is stripped away. Rather than have my blog be ugly, I’m deleting the plugin.