There is a growing movement to put the “follow” back into blog comment links instead of the
nofollow attribute. The reason behind this move is to encourage readers to comment by rewarding their links with SEO credits.
The idea behind the
nofollow technique was to take away all the “link juice” comment spammers wanted, thus encouraging them to stop spamming. Google introduced the nofollow tag to discourage comment spam from flooding their search indexes, and blogging programs added it to avoid being penalized and jump on the anti-comment spam bandwagon. WordPress and many blogging programs and forums added a nofollow by default for all links within comment areas. This instructed search engines not to follow the link as they crawled the page, taking away the credit search engine page rank gives to incoming and outgoing links. Recently, while late to the party, in an effort to discourage comment spam, Wikipedia has added nofollow to their outgoing links.
As good as the intention was, nofollow didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.
As many serious bloggers started realizing that their blog comments were also being penalized along, grouped as they were with evil comment spammers, a small backlash ensued. Protesting against the nofollow, the No NoFollow group and other bloggers spread the word on the SEO-killing aspect of the nofollow and encouraged bloggers to stop using nofollow. No nofollow WordPress Plugins that removes the nofollow from WordPress blog comments started appearing, as well as WordPress Plugins to include nofollow.
As bloggers debated the issue, including some bloggers taking a public stand on the nofollow issue, declaring their blogs to be “nofollow free”, the death toll is ringing on the nofollow issue.
It didn’t work then, and it isn’t working now.
As more and more bloggers removed the nofollow feature on their blogs, they wanted people to know that they were “good bloggers” and that leaving comments on their blogs meant the commenter would be rewarded with a link back to their site and to whatever sites they linked to in their comments. Many thought that this would free some bond restricting people from commenting on their blogs by offering a reward with a link credit.
This also doesn’t work.
Honestly, do you debate over whether or not to comment on a blog based upon whether or not the blog uses nofollow? Do you only seek out blogs which don’t use nofollow and comment only there? Unless it is publicly plastered near the comment form area, how would you even know? People are going to comment whether or not you use nofollow. A nofollow reward really doesn’t influence them. Does it really influence you to comment?
If it did influence people to comment, then why aren’t we all announcing it in order to get more comments on our blogs? Because our readers really don’t care one way or the other. If they want to comment, they’ll comment.
Still, the the issue here is stopping comment spam. And so far, nofollow isn’t working. So why bother?
What Are Bloggers Doing to Stop Comment Spam
Bloggers have resorted to a wide range of techniques to stop comment spammers. These make many feel great because they work initially, but over the long term, you and your readers are the only ones punished. In addition to the nofollow issue, some of these include:
- Stopping all comments: This is pretty drastic and certainly stops comments, but takes away one of the biggest reasons to have a blog.
- Make readers jump through hoops to comment: If you test the person leaving a comment, and they answer correctly, they must be human. Not. CAPTCHAs and other torture tests don’t work. Some comment spam bots can break through easily, hammering away at the post and your database whether or not they can get through. And human comment spammers certainly know how to add up 3+1.
- Require registration: Many believe that by requiring registration for comments, comment spammers are stopped because they can’t get past the registration access. Not true. There are some sophisticated comment spam bots out there that are experts at breaking registration and password requirements. With the arrival of human comment spammers, bypassing registration is easy.
- Strip links from comments: By removing all links, you totally take the “link juice” out of comments, right? This doesn’t stop comment spammers. I’ve found blogs which use this technique stuffed with horrible comment spam. No links, but still announcements of sex, porn, and casinos flood their comments. The only ones hurt by this technique are those who want to recommend a site or make a point with a link in the comments. Comment spammers continue to flood obliviously to whether or not their spam links work.
- Rename the comments template file: This was a hot technique a couple years ago. It’s a temporary fix, though. Comment spammers find the new template file and the onslaught begins again.
- Separating comments to another page: Comment spammers find comments no matter how far they are separated from the post. The problem with this technique is that your readers have to click through to even see the comments, and click back to read the post, and back to the comments, and back to the post, and…it doesn’t work for anyone.
It often feels like there is a new gimmick out every other week guaranteed to stop comment spam on your blog. People swear by them, but they only test them for a couple weeks before making the proclamation. Ask them if it still works three months from now.
Then ask them what their readers and potential commenters think about their new comment spam stopping technique.
Anything that gets between your blog and the reader and commenter hurts your blog and does nothing to stop comment spam.
What Works to Stop Comment Spam on Blogs?
The only thing working currently is using an effective comment spam fighting program behind the scenes such as Akismet. There are a variety of other good comment spam fighting plugins and add-ons that also work, but Akismet is currently the most popular and is available for a variety of different blog and forum programs.
Akismet works with the notion of a community of comment spam fighters: bloggers and forum users. If we all work together to mark which comments are comment spam, and the information is passed on to a central database, the comment spam you mark today will be prevented on my blog tomorrow.
When you make comment spam monitoring and marking part of your daily blogging routine, you help everyone benefit by stopping all the new types of comment spam as it arrives. Comment spammers are devious, always coming up with new ways to try to slip by the filters with their comments and trackback spam.
Have respect for your readers so they aren’t assaulted by comment spam on your blog. Care enough to keep your blog comment spam free?
Is there anything else you can do?
What Will Stop Comment Spammers?
All bloggers can do is trap and prevent comment spam from releasing on their blogs and forums. None of these techniques actually stop comment spam. According to recent statistics, spam via email and blog comment spam represents over 90% of all Internet traffic. According to Akismet comment spam statistics for blogs:
As of February 27, 2007
804,559,720 spams caught so far
6,909,637 so far today
95% of all comments are spam
Comment spam has risen dramatically within the past six months. Our blogs are flooded with comment spam and hammered by spam bots not because our blogging programs can’t handle it, but because there is more comment spam attacks out there than ever before. It’s not stopping. It’s growing.
Comment spammers are obviously making money because many are opening up warehouse factories of human comment spammers in low income and third world countries to spam the world.
Someone’s paying them.
Someone’s paying them and someone’s making money from this. The key to stopping them is to stop the flow of money.
Since Akismet and the blogosphere is taking the fight seriously to stop comment spam from clogging their blogs, aren’t comment spammers paying attention? Don’t they understand that their messages aren’t getting through?
Ah, but they are. Most blogs do not have any form of comment stopping feature. There are millions of defunct blogs sitting on the web right now with no human nor machine to clean out the comment spam. Comment spammers are getting exposure because we are lazy and give up too easily.
If you have a defunct blog, or have ignored yours for too long, go in and clean out the comment spam. At the least, remove all capability to leave comments. Ask the host for help if you don’t know how. At the most, delete the blog. Don’t let comment spammers make money off your blog, whether or not you do.
Put pressure on the business world to not use comment spam as a method of advertising. Make it an ugly technique. Ask yourself, would you do business with a comment spammer? Find out if the company you work for or with uses comment spam for their advertising methods and let them know you think this is an abusive and underhanded method.
Let your opinion be known, even if you support comment spam. Let’s publicly debate about the value of comment spam to get the news out across the blogosphere. Together, we can use our collective voices to let our message ring out, so maybe comment spammers might hear us. They certainly aren’t listening now.
We need to put an end to comment spam. But how? The battle is being fought in the blogosphere but we need to move the front to the businesses so they can get on the defensive. And lose money. Let’s hit them in the wallet. But how?
Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.