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Echo chamber goes crazy about ‘nofollow’

Blogs: Just to expand on a linkblog posting I made yesterday, Google’s search team have announced support for a new piece of Google functionality; they’ll fix their crawlers to ignore links with a rel="nofollow" attribute, for PageRank calculations, the idea being that spammers will stop blog-spamming once they can’t get PageRank out of it.

The blog world has been all aflutter:

BurningBird is right, to a degree. In fact, it’s been solved before.

Here’s a posting from November 2003 where I point out that by using a trivial Javascript URL one can link to another page without conferring PageRank. The format is:


The result looks like this, and work in any browser with a basic JS engine, from IE 3.02 and Netscape Navigator 2 onwards. I’ve been using it for my referrer logs, among other things, for over a year. I wrote a patch that implemented it for external links in the Moin Moin wiki software.

Amazingly, despite my plugging this idea at virtually every opportunity, it seems nobody noticed! At least, nobody among the people who (it would seem) should be looking into comment spam, thinking about how to deal with it, etc.

Disappointing — the echo chamber keeps talking to itself, once again. Maybe I’ll stick with dealing with email spam instead ;)

Ah, whatever. Anyway, this is a nicer fix; relying on JS isn’t a good thing. So nice work, Google.

(PS: worth noting that while this is a good plan, comment spam won’t be going away any time soon, as Mark Pilgrim noted. Still, here’s hoping it’ll help in the long term…)

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