rel="nofollow" Is this something we should be using?

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rel="nofollow" Is this something we should be using?

Postby acknak » Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:09 pm

Preventing comment spam [blogspot.com]

That link is talking about blog comment spam, but wouldn't it apply here as well? phpBB could add it to all user-provided links.

Seems like it would be a good thing, no?
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Re: rel="nofollow" Is this something we should be using?

Postby AndrewZ » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:25 pm

It generally seems like a good idea, but if the intention is designed to prevent spam, I am not sure how effective it is. First, I haven't seen any spam on this forum. Second, the specific robots that target phpBB would have to check whether rel="nofollow" is present, but I assume they do not. They would post either way. Third, it would penalize valuable contributors with legitimate web sites.
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Re: rel="nofollow" Is this something we should be using?

Postby acknak » Sat Dec 15, 2007 12:56 am

acknak wrote:I'm not sure I follow you.


Sorry, I am sick this week and I make sense to no one right now. :)

This is no magic bullet, for sure, but it would pretty much remove the incentive for spammers to try and slip their links into posts. Obviously it has no effect on the bots; and it won't prevent a spammer from posting a link--except to waste his/her time.


User links are in several places including
* Posts
* Profiles
* Member list

If there is spam in a post, the post is deleted. No problem. However, the user profile remains. That is a problem. I have mentioned this several times because I want to delete the profile. For an example, browse this user list. Nasty stuff just looking at the URLs!!

At least according to the Wikipedia article, it seems to have had little or no effect in the time it's been around, so maybe that says enough.


My suggestion is don't worry about rel="nofollow". Instead, just delete the accounts of obvious robot spammers. If obvious is not obvious, then I mean accounts that post tons of links for pharmaceuticals, watches, and smut. Then, the accounts never post anything legitimate. See the above link for many examples.
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Re: rel="nofollow" Is this something we should be using?

Postby DrewJensen » Sat Dec 15, 2007 4:19 pm

Just a thought on this - I believe the value that this scheme hopes to build is not to the individual sites, but rather, to the web as a whole. In other words if it becomes common practice for sites to use this nofollow construct then the incentive for plunking content onto a site, solely to try an build up rankings in search engines goes away - at some point then spammers stop doing it because it offers them no value. Then again if you read a few of the other articles about this practice some make the valid, IMO, point that there will still be those that spam because they actually want the click.

Then there is AndrewV's comment is valid, IMO again, however - if there is a member that actually contributes by answering questions and has a link to their own web site in the sig line, why not give them the boost for the SEs.

SO - which way should we go - help the fight against spam by being part of a communal effort - or help some of members?

I suppose we could do a little custom coding - User has < some number of posts = nofollow for links; > that number of posts = clear link.

You know if we had a group maybe that could make these kinds of decisions - Use nofollow or not - spend time coding and supporting the compromise or not - it would be a good thing :x

Wait a minute - isn't that what the OUCV was supposed to be for....hmm, what ever happened to that idea

More on that last point over the next couple of days.
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Re: rel="nofollow" Is this something we should be using?

Postby AndrewZ » Sat Dec 15, 2007 4:37 pm

DrewJensen wrote:I suppose we could do a little custom coding - User has < some number of posts = nofollow for links; > that number of posts = clear link.


I like the idea, but it may confuse the robots to believe everyone gets a clear link. Too bad the robots are not open source, so I could check their decision logic. :)
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Re: rel="nofollow" Is this something we should be using?

Postby DrewJensen » Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:34 pm

I don't think that matters - what google is doing, If I have it correctly, is that they are cracking down on sites that sell space on a page for a link - for the sole purpose of boosting link counts.

Having a mix of nofollow and clear links simply tells the bot to not follow the particular link.

If we did that however I could get clarification on the Google Webmaster Tools news group.
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Re: rel="nofollow" Is this something we should be using?

Postby AndrewZ » Sat Dec 15, 2007 6:16 pm

DrewJensen wrote:Having a mix of nofollow and clear links simply tells the bot to not follow the particular link.


Sorry, I mean it would confuse the bad bot that posts the forum spam. :)
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Re: rel="nofollow" Is this something we should be using?

Postby acknak » Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:16 pm

It seems that the current setup is doing a pretty thorough job of foiling the spam bots, even oooforum seems to be getting nothing but bio-bots (I'm just guessing here, I don't know any great ways to tell them apart).

I was thinking this might be a way to get at the bio-bots, to remove the incentive for them to post links, but as I said, the reports say that the use of this technique has not had any significant effect. Link spam is as bad as ever.

I forgot that the incentive of the spammers is not (directly) about getting results. They probably get paid for the links they post, period. They don't care if they're deleted 30ms after they're posted, or if the links aren't picked up by the spiders; the people paying them don't care, because they know that if they can post 10,000 links, then 100 of them will survive and take effect, and their real customer--the advertiser--will be back.

So, it seems to have less value to me than it did initially.

And it does seem like a fair trade to me, that regular posters should be able to get a boost from links in their posts.
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Re: rel="nofollow" Is this something we should be using?

Postby huw » Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:39 am

Search engine ratings based on linkings are good. Spam to influence them is bad. If nofollow was used everywhere here it would remove a valuable function of this site - over the years, resources are going to be recommended in various solutions offered, and they will have their rankings raised as a result of links here.

However, links in signatures and profiles are a different matter. They are self promotion and not peer reviewed in any way (other than pure spammers being deleted by mods). I realise most are benign, and some are excellent resources, but they'll get linked to in posts too! Any custom coded solution is inevitably going to be unfair to someone - a lurker who posts the occasional gem, for instance. Prolific does not always mean good.

I think, put nofollow in all signatures and profiles, and not in any actual posts' main content.
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