Spam and the No Follow tag

Damn, I was hoping to get out of the damn topic for a while, but my baldness-induced striking cold precluding most other activities worth narrating here, I might as well, give my two cents about the no follow “anti-spam” tag…

In a nutshell: it’s very cute, but it won’t do much to help major existing platforms (might help smaller ones, but they weren’t really concerned with the spam problem in the first place).

Two reasons:

  1. Ego
  2. Laziness

Ego, because you can bet none of the major platforms (MT, WP etc) will ever force the no follow tag on all URLs inside comments by default: they know that doing so will piss off that percentage of people who consider more important to stroke each other’s PageRank than preventing comment spam. At its best, the tag will be used by an overwhelming majority, as an optional setting or a plugin.

Which is where Laziness comes in, spammers’ laziness as a matter of fact (not like this would be their worst sin either). It is their laziness, or more likely the fact they just do not give a damn, which means that as long as even the tiniest fraction of users of a certain platform run their blog with the option disabled, spambots will keep hitting the entire userbase. You don’t expect spambots developer to start implementing courtesy check to avoid disturbing blogs that have the no follow setting enabled, do you?

I guess one of the only possible strategy here, is to ensure that enabling the no follow setting on a platform automatically be paired with a fundamentally different commenting mechanism, so as to make old spambots inefficient with it. In which case that same spammer’s laziness might turn out to be an advantage: they sure won’t go out of their way to avoid spamming protected blogs, but they likely wouldn’t spend time tuning their tools to target a mechanism used only by protected blogs.

Though honestly, I’m not even convinced this would work (and even less convinced that any platform will ever go that road).

Thus, this trick will only help platforms that are willing to make unilateral decisions and implement it without leaving a choice to users, which likely rules out most current major players in the Blog industry… the same ones who apparently consider this to be the pinacle of their anti-spam efforts… Too bad, huh?

Filed under: Meta

1 comment

  1. So Google leads the way and Yahoo, MSN and the others are soon to follow no-follow. What about trackback spam?

    I don’t see “nofollow” on the W3 HTML specs for link types. Are MT, etc. planning to use a profile to extend the types?

    I can see many major bloggers implementing this. Some hate the idea that they could lose their rank ( read:importance) if someone else became noticed through their comments.

    Did you notice that Google announced this on the 18th and someone registered on the 17th? Coincidence? I think not.

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