I Broke Nofollow

I’m still trying to write something on Technorati Tags. What’s slowing me up is there’s been such a great deal of interesting writing on the topic that I keep wanting to add to what I write. And, well, the weather warmed up to the 60′s again today, and who am I to reject an excuse to go for a nice walk. Plus I also watched Japanese Story tonight, so there goes yet even more opportunity to write to this weblog.

Thin excuses for sloth and neglect aside, it is interesting that a formerly obscure and rarely used attribute in X(HTML), rel, has been featured in two major technology rollouts this week: Technorati Tags and the new Google “nofollow” approach to dealing with comment spam. Well, as long as they don’t bring back blink.

Speaking of the new spam buster, after much thought, I’ve decided not to add support for rel=”nofollow” to my weblogs. I agree with Phil and believe that, if anything, there’s going to be an increase of comment spam, as spammers look to make up whatever pagerank is lost from this effort. And they’re not going to be testing whether this is implemented — why should they?

But I am particularly disturbed by the conversations at Scoble’s weblog as regard to ‘withholding’ page rank. Here’s a man who for one reason or another has been linked to by many people, and now ranks highly because of it: in Google, Technorati, and other sites. I imagine that among those that linked, there was many who disagree with him at one time or another, but they’re going to link anyway. Why? Because they’re not thinking of Google and ‘juice’ and the withholding or granting of page rank, when they write their response. They’re focusing on what Scoble said and how they felt about it, and they’re providing the link and the writing to their readers so that they can form their own opinion. Probably the last thing they’re thinking on is the impact of the link of Scoble’s rank.

Phil hit it right on the head when he talked about nofollow’s impact, but not its impact on the spammers — the impact on us:

But, again, it’s not so much the effects I’m interested in as the effects on us. Will comments wither where the owner shows that he finds you no more trustworthy than a Texas Hold’em purveyor, or will they blossom again without the competition from spammers? Will we do the right thing, and try to find something to link to in a post by someone new who leaves a comment we deem not worthy of a real link, or will new bloggers find it that much harder to gain any traction?

That Phil, he always goes right to the heart within the technology–but blinking, lime green? That’s cruel.

No, no. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve spent too much time worrying about Google and pageranks and comment spammers. A few additions to my software, and comment spam hasn’t been much of a problem, not anymore. I spend less than a minute a day cleaning out the spam that’s collected in my moderated queue. It’s become routine, like clearing the lint out of the dryer after I finish drying my clothes.

Of course, if I, and others like me, don’t implement “nofollow” we are, in effect, breaking it. The only way for this to be effective as a spam prevention technique is if everyone uses the modification. I suppose that eventually we could fall into “nofollow” and “no-nofollow” camps, with those of us in the latter added to the new white lists, and every link to our weblogs annotated with “nofollow”, as a form of community pressure.

Maybe obscurity isn’t such a bad thing, though; look what all that page rank power does to people. But I do feel bad for those of you who looked to this as a solution to comment spam. What can I say but…

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