Last night I got an email from someone I've been wanting to hear from for a long time. There's a problem on the Internet, a big one, that only one entity can solve. The email outlined the solution and asked what I thought of it, and asked me not to say what it is publicly.
He went on to say that he had implemented the idea on one of his sites. Well, Simon Willison thinks he may have discovered what this is...
Google to Quash Comment Spam
Originally i had followed Todd at GeekCentral's surmise that the mystery email was from either Steve Jobs or Bill Gates - but Simon has spotted this on Dave's Bloggercon site. Check out the comments link and view the source!
<a href="someblogsite.com" rel="nofollow">
Which, if Simon is correct in saying:
Google are soon to announce that they won't be calculating PageRank for links with a rel="nofollow" attribute. Finally, an official way of fighting the economics of comment spam by denying PageRank on user-submitted link content.
would eventually have some effect on comment spam as a technique for rankings.
If true, would it solve the comment spam issue?
I think not. There are many reasons why this would not work. In fact, we have talked about the solutions available a lot in recent months and i hold to my original point: You need to stop automated commenting - not deincentivize it!
- The time it would take for this to proliferate to any great extent is HUGE
- Even after a couple of years, there will still be tons of blogs that dont carry this tag for spammers to target
- It's easy to check a page for that string before bothering to comment - this is good for bloggers, as up to date systems may suffer less spam but there will still be lots of good targets
- All of the above means that for a prolific spammer, there is still great incentive to spam, and it's arguably easier not to even check for the tag and just live with the fact that some of your comments wont count.
However, it wouldnt be a bad start...
A cooperation between blog vendors and engines would be a reasonable start. Maybe in a year or two the problem would lessen to a manageable size.. im not sure, but it's a reasonable solution and certainly a better one that adding a tag to the HTML set as suggested by Danny. Sorry mate, i still think that's a lame idea :)
What do you think?