If you don't use 'nofollow' on your blog

This is for the bloggers in the audience; everybody else can safely ignore!

A few months ago, I started noticing odd comments on slightly older (like two or three months) UH posts - They weren't immediately obvious as spam, but the English always seemed to be slightly off, and there was always just a single link to some spammish-looking site that really had nothing at all to do with Boston or the topic of the comment.

Yeah, it's spam gone retail. Lookie here - you can pay somebody to post blog comments for you. Only $19.99 for 100 comments, such a bargain!

They purely appear like completely natural comments written by someone just reading the blog post. Even you wont be able to distinguish our blog comments separately form others. In spite of this, most of the bloggers/moderators always love free comments to keep their web content fresh and their community alive.

I found the link on a forum site that discusses such techniques - which I discovered when I noticed a bunch of links from it to an older UH post, given as a great location to post just such messages, since I don't use "nofollow." Sure enough, a couple of these nouvelle spams showed up on that post. The delete button is such a handy thing.



    Free tagging: 


      Like paying for friends...

      By Boz on

      ...or paying people to come to your restaurant to give the appearance of popularity. But $20 for 100 comments? That seems stiff to me given the task.

      heh. like you need more comments...

      By on

      You've got a pretty active and voiciferous community here already... paying someone to come in and go "yes! i agree" or "wow. that's too bad for that guy" isn't worth the hassle.

      i mean, that's not picking a fight! which is what we all love about UH comments.

      well, at least I do. it is fun to see the fur fly.

      What, you no follow?

      By on

      Sorry. It's something you can add to hyperlinks on your site so that even if a spammer does post something, his links won't get him anything extra on Google. Conversely, a link from a site that doesn't use nofollow WILL help the linked site go up on Google results pages (exactly how much depends on how highly ranked the linking site is, basically).

      You can hand-code the thing into links like this:

      <a href="http://www.someurl.com" rel="nofollow">

      Many (all?) blogging apps also let have a way for you to automatically set all links to have it. I don't use it because I figure the least I can do for the sites whose content I link to is give them a tiny bit of help with Google and because I'm obsessive enough to check the site for spam fairly often.


      has more.

      Nofollow reduces the "value" of links

      Roughly, adding the rel="nofollow" attribute to the actual hyperlink changes how most search engines index and score the link. That tends to mean - in this case - when a blog's comment settings make any links in comments have the rel="nofollow" attribute, that it's much less useful for a spammer to insert links into your blog's comments.

      Essentially, even if a spammer can put a hundred links into blogs, if their blogging package always uses rel="nofollow" on links from comments, the spammer doesn't get much win, since Google doesn't rank those links with any weight (i.e. not giving them a boost in search ratings).

      Allowing bare links (which some blogging software unfortunately does by default) instead gives the spammers a real boost, since each link back to the spam site that they can insert in blog comments gives them a boost in their PageRank.

      Note that this, like many things on the internet, is subject to change. In particular, not necessarily all search engines treat nofollow exactly the same way in terms of ranking. Nofollow also doesn't actually stop most search engines from indexing other sites, it just stops them from assigning a better search score. However it is a useful way to combat spammers by making it less useful for them to put spam links into blog comments (and other places).

      There are a ton more details of fairly high accuracy on Wikipedia's Spam in Blogs entry. Googling "nofollow pagerank" shows a number of other discussions about the topic.

      The best way to combat spammers is to continue the arms war, and use a strong anti-spam comment scanning system, like Akismet for WordPress or any of the other anti-spam plugins. In particular, with services like these, you need an anti-spam tool that does more than just a CAPTCA or mini-turing test like UH currently uses.


      By on

      Behind the scenes, I have another anti-spam tool running here, basically, a Bayesian spam filter. I used to also run Akismet, but it kept marking legitimate posts as spam, and I couldn't figure out how to keep it from doing that (in contrast, it's worked wonderfully on the Movable Type blogs I run).

      Spam Nightmare

      By Angela on

      I removed nofollow tags from my site last Spring and it has turned into such a pain in the arse. I've discovered my URL on all sorts of "no nofollow" directory sites and even though I have since started adding the tags again, I'm still getting the spammy comments.