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January 18, 2005

Fighting blog comment spam – what companies need to know

By Charlene Li

There are two major reasons why many companies and publishers have not enabled comments on their blogs: 1) they’re afraid of negative comments; or 2) there is concern about comment spam, whereby a spammer adds links pointing to the Web site to increase search engine page rankings.

Google spearheaded an effort to add the new “nofollow” attribute to its indexing algorithm. Any hyperlinks that have the “nofollow” tag won’t be factored into its Page Rank calculations. The most notable part about this is that other search engines quickly jumped on board -- Yahoo and MSN are also supporting the attribute ensuring that comment spammers have no where to hide. Vendors like Six Apart (disclosure: this blog is hosted by Typepad) have added their support. Search Engine Watch has a detailed (very detailed) look at how “nofollow” works here.

This won’t stop aggressive spammers eager to target a popular site’s readers, but it will at least remove the purpose behind the most egregious comment spammers. For companies that are still sitting on the fence about turning on their comments, there are other techniques, ranging from accepting comments only from registered users to using comment blacklists (see the Six Apart Guide To Comment Spam for details on various methods).

Recommendation: Companies should enable the “nofollow” attribute immediately on their blogs and then open up a few posts to first Trackbacks and then comments to test the waters. Again, this is contingent on your company feeling comfortable with the whole idea of comments in the first place. But my strong belief is that if your company is making the commitment to support blogs in the first place, it’s a shame not to at least place some faith in your blog community to comment responsibly and give it a try.


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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Fighting blog comment spam – what companies need to know:

» NoFollow - A Non-Solution to Comment Spam from Threadwatch.org

Late last night bloggers all over the world started what im sure will be a very short-lived networked jump for joy as Google, [Read More]

» NoFollow - A Non-Solution to Comment Spam from Threadwatch.org

Late last night bloggers all over the world started what im sure will be a very short-lived networked jump for joy as Google, [Read More]

» Fighting blog comment spam: what companies need to know from del.icio.us WebCites
Charlene Li notes that the new Google method for stopping comment SPAM will not stop people just looking for comment real estate on popular blogs. The real underlying issue is the crimp that comment SPAM puts on interactivity.... [Read More]

» New nofollow tag cheers bloggers, but fails blogs? from Platinax Internet News
A new tag is to be supported by Google, and it looks likely that Yahoo! and Microsoft will lend some degree of support to it. Publicly claimed to be for the fight against blog spam, it effectively leaves the search... [Read More]

» Movable Type Works to Block Blog Spam from Weblog Spam
With a focus on adding administrative control and spam-fighting features, the maker of Movable Type is updating the popular Weblog-publishing software. Six Apart Ltd., which also runs the TypePad and Live Journal blogging services, posted a beta rele... [Read More]

» MSN Search's WebLog from MSN tests new blog, search features
MSN tests new blog, search features | The service will let users find blogs and syndicate content using the RSS format, as well as search blogs for specific ... [Read More]


Josh Hallett

I have had a few clients hesitate to start blogs purely for the comment spam issues.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the 'news' to hit the comment spammers. The majority of the attacks I (like many) deal with are script based rather than individuals

The vaccine has been created, so how long before we wipe out the disease?

Elliott Back

I don't know it's so difficult for corporations to stop coment spam on their blogs. I get lots of comment spam, and it all gets stopped by a hashcash plugin for Wordpress that I wrote.

And even if you're not using Wordpress, there are plenty of other products for Movable type, Typepad, and Blogger that will keep the spam off your blog.

Although, while I think the war against blog spam is already won, I *know* that I could write a new, effective blog spambot if I put my mind to it, which means that the war on spam is really just a Sisyphean battle.


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Charlene Li

I was just asking for it with this post -- just got massively spammed by someone. Silly me -- I had enabled auto-URL linking. Well, it's turned off now, but I left the comment up.




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