Netwriting
Home  |  Writing Tips  |  Selected Articles  |  About  | 

Is No Follow tag for Comments a good idea? | Net Writing

Is No Follow tag for Comments a good idea?

Comment spam has plagued blogs, for almost as long as blogs have been in existence.

Basically spammers use comments as a mechanism to leave links to their sites The spammers gain in 2 ways:

  1. Firstly the link counts towards their page rank / link popularity
  2. Secondly they will get some click through to their sites. (even if the % is very small it can be worth doing if you can automate the spam comments.

In response to the real problem of comment and trackback spam, Google suggested implementing the no_follow tag. See Google blogspot. The no_follow tag is like an indicator to the search engines not to count this link when calculating P.R. and Link popularity of a site. The argument is that since the links may be spam, they don’t deserve to gain any credit from in boosting a site’s link popularity. – Which seems a good idea.

The hope was that if comment’s have no_follow then spammers will not have any incentive to leave automated comments and trackbacks in blogs. The no_follow tag soon caught on, and most major blog software use “no follow” as default. However, it didn’t quite work out as hoped.

Problems with No_follow

1. It doesn’t stop spam.

Spammers still have a huge incentive to spam blogs. What they really benefit from is leaving links for people to click, it is kind of like free advertising. See interview with spammer

2. It Penalises Legitimate Commentators

Those who leave, good comments, perhaps deserve a link.

It is quite possible to overide the no_follow tag and give all comments and trackbacks the do_follow tag.


Advantages for Using Do Follow
(getting rid of no_follow)

1. It rewards commentators who make useful additions to your blog.
2. The importance of P.R. is perhaps overstated, bloggers should worry less about “losing PR”
3. Spam is stopped, not by no_follow, but plugins like Aksimet.
4. You may get an increase in traffic, and people interested in your blog. This list of do_follow blogs is popular
5. How much priority do search engines give to no_follow anyway?

Advantages of Keeping No_Follow

1. It may encourage insincere commentators, who just want a link.
2. You may find Mr Credit Card, comes to be very interested in your blog on personal development.
3. People should leave comments for the sake of comments and not for the motivation of getting a free link.
4. The main reward of leaving comments should be greater interaction, exposure, and some traffic.
5. Search engines will probably still be able to differentiate between a link in the body of the post (valuable) and a link in the comments (less valuable)

I am undecided, on balance I think it is a good idea to use do_follow, but I’m not convinced. I would be interested in other people’s experiences or opinions.

7 comments ↓

#1 Mr. R.E. Mortgage - Quotes on 05.17.07 at 8:34 pm

Do Follow is an excellent idea.

#2 John on 05.17.07 at 9:38 pm

I agree with R.E. Mortgage-Quotes (who should go into business with such a name), and have just activated Do-Follow on my site. At the very least, I’m more than happy to reward frequent commentators in some small way, and will still reserve the right to decline comments that don’t meet minimum standards of effort and insight.

#3 A Sensitivity to Things » Blog Archive » Deserving of Comment on 05.18.07 at 8:30 am

[...] Postscript: I installed the DoFollow WordPress plugin today on the semi-recommendation of NetWriting, which should be further encouragement to those interested in search engine standing to comment here at A Sensitivity to Things. [...]

#4 Dan Chase on 05.18.07 at 12:05 pm

I’m glad I got you thinking, Richard. Thanks for the link! One of the key points that is included in some of the destination links you provided that I feel should be pointed out is: If you have links that are ‘nofollow’ it still does not stop a human from clicking on them, only compliant search bots from not following. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want these types of links in my blog at all! NoFollow doesn’t solve the problem it was intended for, and penalizes the rest of us.

#5 Jack on 05.19.07 at 3:03 am

so.. i see that you wrote the advantages so much more then the disadvantages. but seems your blog still nofollow ?

I have deactivate my nofollow too on my blog.
and i am trying to make a list of all them here. thanks

#6 Richard on 05.19.07 at 1:41 pm

Hi Jack,

It is something on my list of todo.

thanks for dropping by

#7 house mouse on 05.09.08 at 11:13 am

I still think the advantages of having a do follow blog out weigh the dis-advantages. My repossession blog has been do follow for about 2 weeks, after being live and receiving no comments at all, I got 5 in two weeks after making it do follow. Ok, so I got the same number of spam, BUT – I got spam before it was do follow anyway!