Putting nofollow back on links in comments

This blog has been a dofollow blog for quite a while, and I actually believe in the “fight spam, not comments” theory. However, the amount of spam I’m receiving this month, disguised as actual comments, is killing too much of my precious time. And since I think you’d all be better served when I have some more time to spend on plugins and good stuff for this blog and my mailing list, I’m putting nofollows back on.

I’ve been thinking of a plugin to do cooler stuff with commenters for a while, and I’ll move it up my list a bit. I actually want to be able to give those of you whom I trust and who contribute to this blog to be able to have follow links.So what I’m thinking of, partly inspired by Jeremy, is a way to give people profiles on this blog, much like SEOmoz has. I want to allow those profiles to have straight links, but only after I chose to give that person the right to create such a profile…

Might be a bit of work, so don’t expect this to be finished tomorrow ;)

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38 Responses

  1. TopherBy Topher on 20 February, 2008

    I get how you want to keep the Spam down but…. And it looks like I am not understanding how you are using nofollow. Can you give a bit of a explanation on how this will help with spam and effect comments?

    Thanks in advance
    Topher Kohan

  2. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 20 February, 2008

    Hey Topher, yeah sure, people were commenting on this blog not because they liked the blog or had an interest in the topic of that particular post, but solely to get a straight clean link back to their website, with an anchor text of their choosing…

    By default, WordPress nofollows all these comment links, making sure they don’t pass value in the search engines. I had removed that “default” because I wanted people to get some link juice in return for commenting. However, since that’s abused too much, I’m afraid the good will have to suffer under the bad…

  3. TomBy Tom on 20 February, 2008

    I realize it’s not really germane here as this pertains only to automated comment spam, but have you checked out WP hash-cash? It stops comment spam at the source by requiring a “proof of work”, rather than relying on Akismet to catch it after the fact.

    It does mean that visitors need to have javascript on, but it has cut down on wasted time I dealing with comments.

  4. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 20 February, 2008

    Well the problem was people were even crafting comments to look like normal ones…

  5. GeorgeBy George on 20 February, 2008

    I don’t blame you. I hope you figure out a fix that will work for you.


  6. Chris EstesBy Chris Estes on 20 February, 2008

    Ah comment spam! Spammers ruin the goods for everyone. I get very few spammers on my blog, or commentors for that fact, so moderating the spam isn’t a problem for me. In anticipation of the huge burst of comment spam I use a couple plugins: Link Lov by Andrew Timberlake and No Follow Case by Case Oliver Bockelmann. They have some problems but the ease of use is good for me.

    Good luck with the plugins and development work.

  7. youfoundjakeBy youfoundjake on 20 February, 2008

    Yeah, I like shoes top commentor plugin, too bad everyone is spamming you for a link back, but i sure am curious as to how you counteract it with a plugin.

  8. MarioBy Mario on 20 February, 2008

    I guess don’t need to put nofollow-tags. What’s a diffirence?

  9. JeremyBy Jeremy on 21 February, 2008

    Well just as long as you’re able to do what you do, I think it’s fine. My blog is so new, I don’t have any comments, so even spam comments would be nice… ha ha ha…
    Have you thought more about that plug-in idea of having the 6 125px by 125px button ads?

  10. WordPress ModderBy WordPress Modder on 21 February, 2008


    You have to do what you have to do, and I’m sure when you have the time, you will come up with a solution that works for you.

    I always try to comment on the blogs I read and I I hope others would do the same, but I must admit, i have commented on blogs specifically to a backlink. However, no matter what the post, I always do my best to make my sure my comment relates to the post subject and most importantly adds value to the conversation

  11. Matt LivingstonBy Matt Livingston on 21 February, 2008

    As most people are used to nofollow blogs, I don’t think it will really effect the majority of your readers. However, I think having special profiles with dofollows hanging out there as an incentive for real commenters will increase genuine comments and will assist in building a better community around your blog.

    Good luck with it!

  12. Matt LivingstonBy Matt Livingston on 21 February, 2008

    A follow-up comment Joost:

    How about a simple plugin that allows you to enter email addresses in your admin area and when those email addresses are used by commenters, the nofollow tag will not be applied.

    This allows you complete control to pick your dofollowers and would be straightforward enough to implement. Similar to Gravatar’s system.

  13. D&GBy D&G on 21 February, 2008

    Maybe it is time to look into Drupal, where you can set up profiles for everybody who would like to comment.
    I’m going to experiment with Drupal during my 6 weeks sabbatical. I will let you know how it goes.



  14. ChloeBy Chloe on 21 February, 2008

    Hi Joost,

    Second comment on your blog now :)
    I have do follow on a few of the blogs i manage, the plugin i use is the ‘u comment i follow‘.
    With this plugin i am allowed to set a limit on peoples comment before they become do follow. Eg: Only when they have 4 approved comments do they become dofollow.
    Maybe this will help you reinvent the wheel here ?

    I say this because I am currently doing a fair amount of WP modifications and finding the code and absoloutly shit storm of a mess to work with.

    Inline PHP, HTML, JS, Ajax, XML all scattered throughout lots of files with no comments, poor documentation. I used to like wordpress.. until i got stuck into the code.. how do manage to work with it on a daily basis without completly rewriting the thing is beyond me.

  15. David BradleyBy David Bradley on 21 February, 2008

    Joost, as far as I can tell, Google gives almost no credence to links in comments anyway, unless the site one is commenting on somehow manages to rank like PR6 immediately for its post pages. Comment spamming is a waste of time, so none of my blogs are dofollow. I do, however, use the Top Commentators plugin and reward genuine frequent commentators with a blog homepage link on my sites. I also run CommentLuv, not for the link juice but because it’s useful to readers and acts as an extra incentive (albeit without link juice) for commentators who see the benefits.


  16. Nicola BoschettiBy Nicola Boschetti on 21 February, 2008

    Hello Joost,

    IMHO, if comments are useful for the post relevancy, i would love to read them…

    I am new to blogging and i can admit that i have found a lot of useful resources while following comment’s URLs.


  17. Allan StewartBy Allan Stewart on 21 February, 2008


    You know what, I totally agree with your post. I kid you not, on my way home in the car last night I was considering the email that I sent you and I was thinking that the best solution would actually be to give only certain users of your website dofollow links. This will encourage people to contribute in a positive way.

    You know it really is such a condradiction this no follow issue and I hope google scrap it. But in the mean time I have to agree with you and I fresh on the back of advice from SES London, David N eta Al. I would have to suggest that other webmasters also USE THE NOFOLLOW tag. This is not becuase I agree with it, I 100% do not. However I think that we should all find a collective voice to lobby Google on more information on WHY we should be using this insane tag.


  18. Matt LivingstonBy Matt Livingston on 21 February, 2008

    @David Bradley:
    However, if the comments are not nofollowed, Google will give the commentators some juice because GoogleBot will follow the link.

    However, I agree that comment spam is a waste of time as most blogs are nofollow as is the standard with Google Webmaster Guidelines and therefor makes those comments a waste. This is not the case on dofollow blogs though.

  19. David BradleyBy David Bradley on 21 February, 2008

    @Matt, yes there is some juice squeezed out of a dofollow site, but it has to be only a tiny quantity not only be necessity of the structure of a page (comments and so spam links towards the bottom) likely to have blogroll and lots of other links (so dilute) but also in that the vast majority of blogs have very low pagerank and sub-pages represented by new posts are more often than not PR0 or at best PR3 or less.

    It doesn’t mean I’d let through spam comments even on my lowly sites, but it just seems to me that all the effort that goes into comment spamming could server the spammers better if it were redirected towards other endeavours.

    Of course, targeting big, powerful blogs is a different matter.


  20. ChloeBy Chloe on 21 February, 2008

    David, don’t know quite where your coming from to be honest, one minute ur saying one thing, the next another.

    Bottom line, google follows link that don’t have nofollow, and so does the juice. End Of.

  21. David BradleyBy David Bradley on 21 February, 2008

    Sure, it’s just that some juice is weaker than other juice…


  22. David LaFerneyBy David LaFerney on 21 February, 2008

    Too bad, but people are dogs sometimes.

    I don’t know If I would call it a problem exactly, but I’ve even noticed before on SEOmoz that sometimes people will comment like crazy to get up to that 100 point threshold for their profile link, and then they often chill out a bit.

    PageRank has certainly brought out the greed in webmasters.

  23. ChloeBy Chloe on 22 February, 2008

    To be king of google, you have 2 ways.

    Spam your way to the top, or pay google.
    Does money supermarket.com really have 600,000 legitimate links.. sure !

    Google won’t stop the spam because most people will never be able to get to the stop, so pay them through its advertising system.

    Google only fear mongers about the spam, it has no real quarms with spammed sites sitting at the top of rankings for key terms which advertisers pay up to £1 per click on.

  24. SintBy Sint on 22 February, 2008

    Sad to read that the spammers got what they deserved, putting nofollow on ALL comments. But if the amounts of spam were indeed that big, I can imagine your decision: it won’t stop the spam itself, but it will stop passing valuable juice to those morons.
    I’m looking forward to all your great new plans. If moderating your spam is such a huge job, why indeed not also ‘moderate’ the real comments and point out which commenters do deserve dofollow-links (hoping I will be one of those).

    In the meantime I’m still wondering why Google does not speak out against commentspam in a clear way. What they did was introduce a nofollow-attribute that did not stop the spamming, but caused all comments on certain blogs to not pass linkjuice anymore.
    I am a strong believer that Google (and search engines in general) should make it clear that comment spam is a problem for both search engines and webmasters. Both parties could help each other by for instance building an interface to report comment spammers (the same way you can report blackhat SEO).

  25. Matt LivingstonBy Matt Livingston on 22 February, 2008

    Alright, I understand where you are coming from I simply disagree. All links will have the same amount of juice on one page. You are right in that the juice depends on that page’s PR, but comments are no less juicy than links posted in the post itself assuming they are dofollow. I could be wrong, but I really doubt Google’s bot does an examination of the page to find out if dofollow links are in comments or not.

  26. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 22 February, 2008

    @Matt: “but comments are no less juicy than links posted in the post itself assuming they are dofollow.” Not true

    There’s such a thing as block level analysis, and posts in blogrolls and comments are devaluated.

  27. RexBy Rex on 25 February, 2008

    Do search engines give “link juice” to nofollow links?

    Your link analysis tool illustrates that Yahoo includes nofollow links in the list of links they produce for a search query such as “linkdomain:URL”.

  28. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 25 February, 2008

    @Rex: nope they don’t in 99.9% of the cases.

  29. titlesBy titles on 26 February, 2008

    But search engines use nofollow links to build keyword domain for this link.

  30. RexBy Rex on 26 February, 2008

    “But search engines use nofollow links to build keyword domain for this link.”

    To Titles: What do you mean by this?

  31. edwinBy edwin on 26 February, 2008

    It is sad to hear, but personally (PR zero blog at the moment,just starting) i don’t have on my follow blog much spamming comments. I didn’t use a do follow plugin, just adjusted the PHP code to “follow”.
    I hope i can get listed in the future as a trusted commenter.
    A nofollow link has to my opinion the same value as a follow link on a Non/Alcoholic PR page..(pagerank N/A)

  32. EdieBy Edie on 26 February, 2008

    Hello Joost,

    your idea of new plugin looks really good.

    Good luck.

  33. Drew StaufferBy Drew Stauffer on 4 March, 2008

    I certainly don’t blame you. Having a blog that doesn’t have no-follow is bound to attract some excessive riff raff.

    Hope you figure something out to keep the juice flowing. Good Luck.

  34. PaulBy Paul on 8 March, 2008

    Joost- Hmmm. . . I am not sure where I fall in on this subject. I used to be a hard advocate for dofollows, mainly to thank my commentors. However, over the years I have battled and battled comment spam.

    Yet, I also recognize that I have received link juice to my blogs in dofollow blogs. As a blogger trying to build traffic and authority I see the benefit of commenting on others blogs.

    I would be interested in seeing what happens when you create your new comment plugin. BTW, my vote on the name of your plugin is: “Die you evil spammer, DIE!”

    Yes, I despise spammers!!!


  35. oyunBy oyun on 10 April, 2008

    How to channel Pagerank no follow

  36. the_guvBy the_guv on 16 July, 2009

    hmmn, damn .. more confused than ever now. Top comments y’all. Not often I sub to cmts but sure will this thread.

    I want to reward commenters. And I want to improve my karma too! But with a young blog I can’t afford to give away too much link juice, tho I don’t think that’s quite so big an issue for me yet. Er, is it?

    Joost, one year on, has your opinion changed? I read before this. And I can see why you had a change of heart. Was it me ;)

    Guess I’ll look at Lucia’s Linky Love and compare that with Hobo Custom Link Love now.

    Seems to me, for young growing blogs, this is one of those areas where you have to spend some time. IE, follow but sift for spam.

    .. ?