21 January 2005

Some Objections to Google’s Comment Spamming Solution and My Opinion

Posted under: at 23:19

While Google’s attempt to curb comment spamming is well received, it also received a few objections. I will address these objections I’ve found on various discussion forums one by one.

It won’t stop spammers whose agenda is not to increase their pageranks

This is obvious, but most spammers are SEO kiddies without ethics. Very rarely I’ve seen more ‘direct’ spammers whose intention is to make their website seen by many people as possible without the intention of manipulating pageranks. Almost all comment spam I’ve seen here don’t even have meaningful message.

This move by Google/MSN/Yahoo will undoubtly convert some of SEO spammers to more direct spammers. But, these kind of spammers are easier to block using existing keyword blacklisting tools. They can’t afford to change their URL very often or they will lose their custo^H^H^H^H^Hvictims.

Web site owners will be able to prevent ‘pagerank leaking’ to linked sites

Traditionally, by linking to another web page, you ‘donate’ some of your pagerank to the linked web page. Now, with rel=”nofollow” a web site owner can link to sites freely while keeping their own pagerank. This will undoubtly change everything. In theory, a web site owner now will be able to put rel=”nofollow” on every link to other web site and don’t leak pagerank at all.

However, this is already possible even before rel=”nofollow” is introduced. There are at least four common techniques to accomplish this without using rel=”nofollow”: using Javascript links, using redirector on http://www.google.com/url, using a redirector ‘protected’ by robots.txt, and god forbid, by feeding different page to Googlebot.

Introducing rel=”nofollow” does not empower people to prevent pagerank leaking, they had the ability to do that before. It only introduces a standard, accessible, and less hackish way in order to accomplish that.

Of course, Google and other search engines will need to do something about those stingy sites. But in order to become stingy, sites don’t even need to use rel=”nofollow”, and undoing these changes will not make those sites automatically ‘generous’. Obviously, search engines need to have some countermeasures in place in order to deal with these stingy sites. For example, they could ‘punish’ stingy sites by adjusting their pagerank. You know, pagerank is not the only ranking algorithm used by Google and other search engines.

Who gives a damn about blog? Let’em suffer. I hope this will keep blogs off my Google searches

If you don’t like blogs, fine. But don’t complain about your ability (or lack thereof) of using search engines. While this move by Google/MSN/Yahoo was primarily an attempt to defeat blog spamming, this could also be useful for sites that may display hyperlinks submitted by untrusted sources. For example: wikis, discussion forums, etc. I’ve even seen a spammer robot blindly submitted every textarea it found hoping that its contents would be converted into hyperlinks somewhere.

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