W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > January 2005

RE: rel="nofollow" attribute (PR#7676)

From: Mark Birbeck <mark.birbeck@x-port.net>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 19:13:34 -0000
To: "'Nicholas Chase'" <nchase@earthlink.net>
Cc: <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <00a101c4ffed$50f37100$6f01a8c0@W100>

Hi Nicholas,

> The very specific issue is that Google's (and other search engines') 
> following of links in blogs has created a situation in which spammers 
> are rewarded for posting unrelated and (in many cases) 
> offensive content 
> on blogs.  This is not a problem for Google, it's a problem for 
> everybody else.  Comment spam -- at least the kind that I 
> keep getting 
> hit with -- isn't likely to pollute search results for anything other 
> than the keywords its targeting, which, frankly, are a small 
> set.  The 
> larger nuisance is to the rest of us, who have to put up with it 
> appearing on our sites.

There's a contradiction here somewhere! Google's proposal is about search
results -- they do not propose to solve the problem of comment spam, they
only propose to stop rewarding comment spammers. And the way they are going
to stop rewarding them is by treating every link in a comment as if it was
spam.

So I don't think we need to say again that comment spam is undesirable -- we
all agree on that.


> > 2. Faced with this secondary problem they *could* have said 
> "why not add
> >    some metadata to the head of the document to indicate 
> that it is a blog,
> >    and then make our crawler behave accordingly".
> 
> Because just knowing its a blog doesn't solve the problem.  You WANT 
> search engines to follow most links on a blog, that's the 
> POINT.  Even 
> on a comments page, you're likely to have a few dozen blogroll links 
> that you want followed.  This designation needs to be made on a 
> link-by-link basis, or as mentioned before, on a container basis, but 
> that's probably even worse.

Am I missing something in what you are saying here, Nicholas, since there
seems to be a contradiction again? Of *course* you want the search engines
to follow the links -- that's my point -- but with Google's proposal they
will no longer follow the links. That's across the board, in all comments --
you the blog owner will have no control over it.


> > 3. Or they could have changed their blogging software so 
> that any comments
> >    that are posted that contain links have to be approved 
> by the blog
> >    owner.
> 
> That's great, but that just works for THEIR software.  That 
> Google owns 
> Blogger is only a minor point; it's their search engine that 
> has created 
> this problem.

Not true. The problem is caused by:

 * blog software that allows anyone to post;

 * blog owners that don't strip out garbage;

 * search software that cannot tell the difference
   between a link made by the blog owner and a link
   made by a person leaving a comment.

I don't say they're easy problems to solve, but they are certainly not
problems to run away from. And whichever way you look at it, the "nofollow"
proposal does not solve the problem of content spam.

Regards,

Mark


Mark Birbeck
CEO
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Received on Friday, 21 January 2005 19:14:25 GMT

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