This is the celebrated journal of Mr. Simon Collison A.K.A Colly

Spammers get spannered by Google

20th January 2005

Something to celebrate if you allow comments on your website. As you may know, those nice people at Google have implemented something special to counteract spammers. Brilliantly, the plug-in masters of all our favourite publishing systems have quickly given us what we need to take advantage of this new method.

This will not stop spammers from leaving their dirty mess, but it will frustrate them. By implementing rel=“nofollow”, the boffins at Google make nonsense of comment spam. Spam links will get no ranking credit on Google, Yahoo or MSN, defeating the purpose of leaving them in the first place. It’s a simple and swift way of biting back at Mr. Texas-Holdem, Mr. Casino, Mr. Growth-Pill and all their friends.

Spamming asshats!

I’ve been getting a fair bit of this spam over recent months, and it’s all the worse for those of you that subscribe to my comments notifications. I’m sure you get pretty pissed off when you’re emailed to be informed that “Online Poker” has responded to your comment. Well, now we can all do something about it.

The rel=“nofollow” attribute is added to all links you specify (so typically you wrap your comments with the appropriate plug-in, or do your own special hack). Top marks to the parents of EE (well done, chaps!), WordPress, MT, Typepad, Blogger and the others that have gotten the plugins out today to let us quickly enable this on our sites.

No Follow for EE

For all you wise, intelligent, thoughtful site architects using the glory that is Expression Engine, you can get Paul Burdick’s No Follow plug-in from the EE plug-ins site.

I’ve already enabled this on CollyLogic, although for now it will only affect links in the body of your comments. Your signature links are not affected. I’ll still be adding visitors to my blacklist whenever possible, and removing most of the offensive wording through EE’s excellent Word Censoring tool.

So, we’ve won a battle, but war rages on. Well done, Google.

Read more about no follow at Google.

Responses

# Randy Peterman responded on 20th January 2005 with...

It should be noted that Yahoo! is also honoring this system.

# Simon Collison responded on 20th January 2005 with...

I think I did mention that, but yes - it’s good news. They all need to support it.

I’m wholly expecting lots of angry spammers to post like crazy on this article just to spite me. C’mon - do your worst!

# Trovster responded on 20th January 2005 with...

I have just added the ability to add comments to my website. Because I don’t use any large content management systems, nor very many visitors, I hope I won’t have the problem of this comment spamming. But I read a lot of logs daily and numerous people have been complaining about. I think I will add this rel=“nofollow” to my comments even so.

Could this not have a slight adverse effect on good articles that people might be linking to in the comments? This’ll mean they’ll be harder to find when searching.

# Simon Collison responded on 20th January 2005 with...

Good point, Trovster. Not sure about the other plug-ins, but the EE one does allow me to exclude links posted by folks on my “Whitelist” (a module where I can specify friendly commenters for whatever purpose). So, at some point I’ll go through and copy all you regulars into that list and exempt you. Thus, any good resources you link up will still be Googled.

# matthew responded on 20th January 2005 with...

I’m not sure how much of an impact this will have.

Will there not still be an incentive just to proliferate comment spam, purely so that it is visible rather than to have an affect on google rankings?

# Tim responded on 21st January 2005 with...

Simon,

Read Ben Hammersley’s post, then tell me if you still think it’s a good idea…

# Simon Collison responded on 22nd January 2005 with...

Andy Budd also makes some interesting comments about this, Tim. I will remain positive about this, but yes - there are a few concerns. I am a little concerned that writers may add to no-follow attribute to article links if they wish to deny page rank support to someone. It is a shame it can’t be limited to comments systems, but there would be no way of enforcing that.

Lets see how it goes.Ben H’s point that this will “level the blogging palying field” is interesting. Those in the know will use no-follow, and those that don’t will get hit just as hard, and the whole page rank system will be tossed around.

From the articles I have read about this, the majority remain positive, but the more negative ones do make valid points. Hmm.

# Onno responded on 25th January 2005 with...

I run an informative site with a lot of commenters who nog only babble away, but also post valuable links and addons to our articles. Removing any links from the comments is a blow for the interconnected web.

I think it would be much more efficient if spamsites were removed from the index. Set up a few hidden weblogs on several systems, watch what spam appears on those sites and remove the sites they link to completely.

You probably have to change sites every few weeks, but after a while, spammers will notice that plugging around their urls on weblogs will only result in removal.

Responses are now disabled Your ability to respond is disabled automatically some 30 days after articles are published, or manually much sooner if spamming guttersnipes target a particular article.

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