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Posted on January 19, 2005 6:05 PM in Blogging
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

If you're a blogger and you've dealt with comment spam at all (or perhaps heard others like me gripe about it), you've doubtless heard Google's latest announcement that they will bypass any and all PageRank stats when they encounter a link on the Web that contains the rel="nofollow" attribute/value pair. This is great news for bloggers, especially given the fact that MSN Search and Yahoo will soon follow suit.

I actually heard some whispers about this at various places around the Web before the official announcement was made by Google, so it was easy to see that this was going to rock the blogging world like nothing else has for quite a while. Luckily I have (among others) implemented site-specific changes to try and thwart spammers, but hopefully this much larger change will have a global effect on comment-spam and make discussing via blogs a friendly experience once again.

My biggest concern after reading about the new link attribute was that it wouldn't validate. I did a quick test, and rest-assured, rel="nofollow" validates both as XHTML 1.0 Strict and XHTML 1.1.

Comments

Ryan on January 20, 2005 at 12:11 AM:

So, I've heard a bit about this as well, but since I'm too lazy to look it up myself, could you answer me this: will blogs put this rel tag on all links in comments? So that no comments in blogs affet pagerank at all? Doesn't that mean that, ultimately, the spammers have won?

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Bernie Zimmermann on January 20, 2005 at 12:30 AM:

I've been thinking about that too, Ryan. If you get overzealous with the attribute, you're bound to hurt (or at least not help) the pagerank of people you can trust.

I suppose there are a few ways you can approach the problem. One might be to say, "if this person has a cookie containing their contact/website info stored, I won't use the attribute when they post." With that approach, you only hurt them the first time they post (unless they don't like storing cookies – then they're just screwed).

Another approach might be to use the attribute only in the body of their comment, but not necessarily on the main URI they provide for their website. That way if one of those Texas Hold 'Em type of spammers comes through and posts tons of links (I get this all the time), they only get credit for 1 out of about 50 links, and that ain't bad.

As with any other technique, I suppose some experimentation is in order to get things right. Hopefully the very idea that this is now an option will cut down the overall volume of comment spam and make fighting it that much easier. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

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