New Tool to Fight Comment Spam

Search Engines, Bloggers Team to Fight Spam (eWeek)

Google Inc., Microsoft Corp.’s MSN division, Yahoo Inc. and Six Apart Ltd. announced late Tuesday that they are supporting a tag called “nofollow” to exclude links in blog comments from search-engine crawlers and to prevent spam posts from influencing search rankings. Comment spam occurs when spammers attempt to dump Web site links into the comment sections of blogs. The spammers often use automated bots with the goal of trying to game search engines by increasing their link popularity. Incoming and outgoing links are a major factor in determining where a site ranks in search results.

The “nofollow” tag is already a part of HTML, but Google suggested using it as a way for blogs to tell search-engine spiders to ignore hyperlinks appearing within comment sections, trackbacks and referrer lists, said Anil Dash, vice president of Six Apart’s professional network.

Via Venomous Kate, who points those of us who use WordPress to a plug-in to take advantage of this functionality.

Personally, I’m waiting a bit before installing it on OTB. The obvious problem with this is that I actually want people to be able to put links into posts to their blogs. I insisted on the ability to show in-line TrackBacks before making the switch to WP for precisely that reason.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Rodney Dill says:

    The way I read it is that you can still put the hyperlinks in the comments, just the search engines won’t take it into account for ranking. This should disincent spammers from placing hyperlinks in the comments, maybe without actually preventing it either.

  2. Rodney Dill says:

    An additional thought, if the search engines would separately count and rank hyperlinks appearing in comment sections (with the nofollow tag) then the largest number/highest rankeed would be those place by spam robots and would be a way of identifying sites benefitting from spamming for boycotting, legal action, etc..

    Most bloggers placing links manually would probably not be doing so to the extent that it would trigger an “I’m a spammer” flag.

  3. McGehee says:

    ExpressionEngine is onboard also — just posted a “nofollow” plugin with a couple of switches written in: If you’re a registered member of the blog and are logged in, it can be set so that you can post any link without getting the attribute, and there’s a setting to leave it off links that are in the local whitelist.

    I think I might use it but I’d still rely more on Captchas.

  4. Xrlq says:

    I’ve installed it myself. It doesn’t stop you from inserting links, it doesn’t prevent the links from working, and it doesn’t even make them look any different to the reader. All it does is prevent Google, Yahoo!, etc. spiders from following them and counting them toward the rankings.

    This one’s a no-brainer. Everyone should install it yesterday.