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Dangers of Dofollow

 |  Interwebs

I have been a supporter of the “dofollow” movement since before it became a movement. I’ve talked about its disadvantages before, but none were so apparent as the one that came to light this week.

Digital Point forums is filled with spammers and sploggers trying to make a quick buck. While this is normally harmless enough, a recent thread came to my attention when it popped up in my referrals: “Free High PR Dofollow blog list everyday”. Basically, an updated list of dofollow blogs with high PR.

My blog was dofollow before I moved back to WordPress, but was not mentioned on any of these lists. I can only assume these spam comment advocates are searching for WP/dofollow combo blogs in Google, which of course I wouldn’t have been listed with previously.

Anyway, sure enough I checked my comments after reading through that thread, and there were a pile of seemingly innocent ones from people I don’t know, on old posts, talking vaguely about the subject matter. Another today had the nerve to tell me: “I just found your blog through a friend” (but didn’t count on my looking his IP up in Mint?)

So here I am — much like many other bloggers — trying to reward those who comment regularly, and for what? The tedious task of having to check on unknown commenters to weed those out deliberately looking for a link boost? To put myself through the hassle of now having to block referrals from Digital Point for the sake of my sanity? Why do a small minority have to ruin it for others?

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

32 comments so far

  1. Robbie said:

    Not sure if I understand exactly, but people are basically posting on random blog posts to get the links back to their own sites to count on Google? That’s terrible.

  2. Rilla said:

    You did suggest in your top traffic tips to comment on dofollow posts but I guess these spammers are taking it a little too far.

  3. Phil Nash said:

    I’m sure I’m on those lists somewhere… and I’ve dealt with comments clearly from people who aren’t coming back and just did it for the PR. I even get visits occasionally from click throughs on PR checker sites, it’s sad, but I don’t like to let spammers win, and for the moment I’m happy to weed out the unconvincing ones. If it gets to a point where I can’t cope, I might change plugin to one that requires a certain number of comments before nofollow is removed, or even just the top commenters plugin, to give a reward to those who return.

    Damn spammers, I’m sure one day they’ll give up, but until then it’s nice to support real commenters.

  4. Han said:

    thats the annoying thing. I personally would want a blog to be dofollow. I like the idea that the commenter is getting something back from reading the blog post (assuming they post a decent comment!) – so everyone wins, isn’t life great! Unfortunately that really only works when say its one good blog commenting on another – it spoils it when its one of those stupid money making blogs out to gain pagerank and your right it ruins everything!

    Least I dont have to worry about it! my PR was 4 then 0 and now its 3 again w00t.

  5. Vera said:

    You know, this is why I really hate getting comments unrelated to my blog entry. Spammers today are getting rather “smart”… but then there’s a limit to how many “I can’t agree with you 100%, but I like your idea” type of messages one can stomach.

    Oh and the URL always gives them away.

    But yeah, I agree with Han’s view on dofollow. I greatly appreciate that people take the time to comment on my mindless rambling.

  6. Mallory said:

    I have comments on my older entries closed because I was getting tons of spam comments. So, anything over 3 months old has comments disabled. It’s a plugin you can get for WordPress.

  7. Angela said:

    Hello Jem. Sorry, this is unrelated to your post, but I recently found out from someone else that you had declared OhNo as insecure on your website, so I went and took a look. I would appreciate it if in the future, instead of just publicizing about the insecurity of any script, you would be so kind as to alert the script creator of said insecurity.

    Thanks, and congratulations on your domain reaching its sixth birthday.

  8. Carly said:

    I had no idea about the ‘dangers’ of do follow, but since making mine one, and advertising the fact, I have had about 5 comments, relevent but purely for a link back to ‘freevideorentals.com’ or something. So I don’t know what to do about it… on the one hand, my blog has nothing to do with what they’re talking about so they’re not receiving any sort of bonus for the link being in context, but it is still annoying.

  9. Ashley said:

    Rillia is right. You did suggest that people comment on dofollow blogs, and now people are taking your advice and doing it to you it seems. Mallory’s right though. Why not install a plugin that locks older posts after an amount of time. That may cut down on it somewhat. Maybe I’m the only one, but I don’t really care about PageRank and all of that. Anytime I get a comment from a weird url, I just delete it. It takes about 2 seconds. Of course, my blog is not nearly as popular as yours, so I don’t have as many comments to deal with. :)

  10. Rhys said:

    I did find this on my trawl throught he DP forums:-

    http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?t=727658

    The chap hasn’t sent me the link (I replied as I thought it could be you), of course I wouldn’t spam, just curious to see if it was you :)

    I’m actually on one of these lists (the Courtney Tuttle D-List -Google it), and it’s horrible. I have 41 comments in my queue. The worst is when they’re e-mail address is something like gospelrhys@spammywillybiggerdomainname.com, and they subscribe to the comments. What happens even if the comment is rejected, is that whenever anybody comments on it, they get an e-mail. There was a bug in a “subscribe to comments” a while back that forwarded on the e-mail of all subsequent commenters to all subscribers. So, they had more emails for they’re spammy lists.

    Carly – the easiest thing to do is have a comment policy, and stick to it. I have one, but cannot find it :S (basically, mine says “I don’t care if your comment’s relevant, if you comment with a keyword rich name, I’ll spam you”).

    If we all put these comments in the Akismet queue, it will do more harm than good to their brand, as they’ll be unable to comment!

  11. Stepherz said:

    I don’t typically get many of those anyways. I’m not witty enough. Do link exchange sites (like exentrique or despair, or that other one that I fail to care about) propel the instances of this?

  12. Jem said:

    @Angela:
    I sent emails, much like I did when I discovered problems with Enth. I also posted a note for your attention on Codegrrl, as you were frequenting the forum at the time solving enth problems.

    This was however, about 2 years ago. The very fact that it has taken you this long to notice that someone has publicised an issue with one of your scripts negates any guilt I may have felt over the fact that you obviously didn’t receive my email/s.

    However, now that you have noticed, I am assuming you will fix the issue? Feel free to let me know when a patch is released and I will be happy to update the entry on my page to reflect that.

    @Rilla/Ashley: actually, I said comment on blogs where the owner plugs people on the front page (under the entry) which is a totally different thing to removing the rel=nofollow attribute. I also advised keeping comments relevant and not spamming, which is exactly what these people are doing.

    The article in question is several years old and talks in the context of personal website owners trying to increase their personal traffic, and is not aimed at sploggers trying to make a few dollars. However, I am sure I could update the article given the time to do so to clarify the misunderstanding you seem to be experiencing…

  13. Vixx said:

    Whenever I read stuff like this I’m gobsmacked that people even care. Maybe it’s because I don’t advertise and therefore have no ‘need’ for my PR6, but that fact that people have sat down to give this consideration at all astounds me. I’ve never SEOed my site – EVER – and all I care about is sharing my life with people who like hearing about it. End of. It’s all a bit seedy and pathetic.

    V xx

  14. Julie said:

    I hate spammers. Just the idea of making a thread listing those sites reeks of we have no life and suck up yours.

    I hope you’re more careful than me…The other day I approved a comment, only to realize later on that, while the content was really something that someone could have posted, the name was something like “Free Wii games”, the email address was one of those spammy-looking Yahoo emails (made of random characters), and the URL seemed to point to a game site or something like that.

  15. Amelie said:

    I recently nofollowed all comment links from my blog. I too have been receiving random slightly-related-to-the-entry comments from people with questionable URLs. Meh.

  16. Chantelle said:

    Hmm… All of my comment links are nofollow. I also don’t have a high PR, but, of course, I still get spam. I never thought of removing the nofollow from any of them, but perhaps I should do it for those who comment frequently. This is one areas in which it’s hard to strike the proper balance.

  17. Carly said:

    I was just checking my stats and found that my blog is one a list too, I think ‘cus it’s a PR4 and I follow. @Rhys – I must put a comment policy up, but I have basically been allowing relevent comments through, but if someone uses a name like ‘Free Laptop Bags’ I decline it.

  18. Wally (Walter) Wilson said:

    Jem, I’m curious if Spam Karma would be of any use in such a situation? I mean, I know it might not be your choice, but in general…for WP users. I’ve stayed out of the don’t follow/do follow world for now, but I try to keep up with the up-sides and down-shots of it all.

  19. Angela said:

    Jem, yes, it could possibly have taken me this long, as I do not read your blog, and I have pretty much stopped all development on OhNo. However, as my logs show that I have tightened login security as early as November 2006 with the 2.2 release candidate, I must have heard about it early on. I’m sorry it came to this.

  20. Shao said:

    I never knew what the whole “dofollow” and “nofollow” thing was until now. It’s terrible how people are using this to their advantage just to make money :/

  21. Cory said:

    I can’t stand spammers, and I personally don’t understand them.
    This reminds me of the issue when I offered free mailing accounts on my domain, from a request, and weeks after, my domain was suspended, and frozen for a few days due to the fact that one account had thousands of e-mails sending from it each hour, and was unstoppable without termination; thankfully, I got to it soon enough.

    Stupid, truly.

  22. Aimée said:

    I don’t understand why spammers attack small, unpopular websites (such as mine) as well? I can’t imagine the value of linkbacks on those sites begins to compare to the linkback value on much larger sites, such as yours. Either way, spam has increased since I’ve begun blogging again, and it’s already frustrating me. I can’t imagine the sorts you go through, Jem.

  23. Lydia said:

    I have a small question for you. It’s totally unrelated to this entry. Sorry. xP

    I’ve noticed that you offer scripts on your webpage (they’re all awesome, by the way), and I was wondering if I could make a suggestion for another one.

    I have a webpage in the making, and I’ve been in need of a script that I could put onto any article page that I wanted. This script would enable a comments section for each of the articles. You see, I do understand that WordPress does this, but seeing as WordPress is incredibly bulky and difficult to edit, the option of installing it doesn’t seem appealing to me.

    I hope you understand my request…Seeing as I have no idea as to what PHP allows, I don’t know how feasible my request is. Oh well. Thanks for your time!

  24. Cel said:

    Sorry, Jem, this is a bit late to comment on this, but sorry about that. :( I don’t honestly see a problem with commenting solely for the sake of a link, but they could at least pretend they’re actually interested in the content?

    Besides, for semi-alert webmasters, it’ll probably backfire. =/

  25. Justin said:

    I run dofollow on a few of my blogs, and I honestly don’t mind people dropping in for a back link. It really depends on their comment. Comments are easy free content I don’t have to write. As long as they leave a decent comment, I won’t spam them. They drop a few of my posts keywords and I’m even happier, sometimes I even turn a blind eye to their keyword anchor text if they leave a decent enough comment.
    If its just “great post, thanks!”….lol, I spam them

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