I implemented a DoFollow plugin back in August 2007 and it served me well for a couple of years, leading to an increase in traffic. However, in May 2009, the level of comment spam on this blog led to me disabling it. This is a consolidation of four posts covering that span.
Part 1 – Should I Follow?
About a month ago, I learnt what the nofollow tag on links in my blog meant. Very quickly, I became aware of the Bumpzee No Nofollow | I Follow | DoFollow Community and the existence of plugins to remove the nofollow tag. The question is: should I follow suite and get a plugin?
I have been mulling this over for several weeks now. At first I was quite enthusiatic, but I’ve started having a few doubts about the concept.
Is NoFollow A Bad Thing?
One of the main reasons I’ve been holding back is that I’m not convinced that the nofollow tag is a bad thing. In fact, I think in an ideal world, it would be a very good thing, as it limits people’s ability to boost their own PageRank. Instead, they have to rely on other people liking their content.
Will Disabling No Follow Increase Spam?
Another reason is that there seem to be a few people who are removing their plugins and reverting to the default nofollow behaviour. Reasons given are largely to do with being targeted for spam.
I am less worried by this. Spam is a fact of life. Also, if I join the community, not only am I opening myself to spam, I am opening myself to other traffic. If someone leaves a comment on my site that’s relative to the post, that’s good – even if their motive is to get a link to their site.
So, I’m not sure I agree that nofollow is bad thing, but disabling it may increase my traffic. Should I stick to my principles or should I sell out?
There’s something else: I have been checking out some of the blogs from the No Nofollow | I Follow | DoFollow Community and leaving comments. Although there is no requirement for me to do so, I feel that if I’m going to benefit from other people disabling nofollow, then I should follow suite.
So, mostly for that reason, I’m going to look at plugins. I’ll start at Andy Beard’s excellent list of dofollow plugins, choose one and give it a try.
Part 2 – I’m Now Following
In my last post, I decided that I would disable the nofollow tag. I’ve now done this and have joined the Bumpzee No Nofollow | I Follow | DoFollow Community.
In the end, I opted for the Dofollow (WP Plugin) as listed on Andy Beard’s review (Note, this is not the original DoFollow plugin).
The main reason I chose this plugin is because you can specify a delay before the nofollow tag is turned off. I’ve set this to 2 days, which gives me a couple of days to prune spam comments before they get any link love.
Speaking of spam, I’ve have been warned by Chris, Terence Chang and Vegan Momma, in the comments of my last post. At the moment, my levels of spam are minimal (one or two a day), but I know this is likely to change.
I am looking at a couple of Math plugins to ensure that commenters are human (and not an automated bot). I am not sure which one I will use yet as the one I originally chose works on my local site, but not on my live site.
I’m not using Askimet, as apparantly it chews up the odd geniune comment (I need all the comments I can get at the moment!). I may look at SpamKarma, but probably not until the level of spam increases significantly.
Yes, if you’ve been reading carefully, you’ll have noticed that I’m completely unprotected right now, except for the built in WordPress spam protection! Not for much longer though.
Part 3 – Welcome Spam
Well, I can’t say I wasn’t warned about disabling NoFollow. I have just started to be hit by spam: one comment about every 5 minutes for the last 4 hours. That adds up quickly!
They only seem to be targeting one post: WordPress – Taming The Advanced Editor. Obviously there is a bot which has picked up this post and is hurling comments at it.
I’d originally been hoping to avoid using Askimet as long as possible, because it does catch the odd genuine comment. However, it has now been activated and is working well.
I’ve also activated the Math Comment Spam Protection plugin. Last time I tried it, it didn’t work properly – it was not showing the numbers you were supposed to add, so there was no way to add comments. This now seems to be resolved, although I’m not sure how. Maybe just deactivating it (last week) and reactivating it (today) fixed it.
Hopefully this combination will protect me, but it’s clear I’ve now really got spam. No thoughts of backing out though.
Of course, I may be unfair in blaming disabling nofollow, as it’s been disabled for several days with only a slight increase in spam. I joined MyBlogLog in the last 24 hours, so maybe it’s related to that. I guess there is no way of telling.
Anyway, welcome spam!
Part 4 – Bye Bye DoFollow
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been a big supporter of the DoFollow movement, but the time has come to say goodbye to DoFollow comments on this blog.
I’m not alone in this move. Several bloggers that I follow have also turned off their DoFollow plugins in recent months. First K-IntheHouse turned off DoFollow as part of a redesign of Shankrila, then RT turned off DoFollow as well. Sometime previously, Terence Chang also turned off DoFollow.
So why are people abandoning DoFollow? The answer is comment spam.
I still believe in the DoFollow concept, but there comes a point when the amount of spam comments outweighs the number of good comments. For me, I’ve reached this point. I need to spend 20 to 30 minutes each and every day, just moderating comments. If I miss a single day, it’s a major job to catch up. I just don’t have to time to do this anymore.
Note, I’m not talking about automated comment spam – my anti-spam plugins prevent that. I’m talking about real live people who have targeted my blog just so they can get a link.
Many of the comments I receive are worthwhile and I don’t mind giving a link to these people. However, for every two or three people who take the time to make a genuine comment, there’s someone who does one of the following:
- Leaves a trivial "nice post" comment
- Obviously hasn’t bothered to actually read the post
- Just copies the text of another comment
- Leaves a flat out spam comment (read about topic x here)
- Leaves spam comments on dozens of pages in one session
- Links to a dodgy website (ie adult or pharmaceutical)
- Doesn’t use the KeywordLuv functionality as required
I have to spend a lot of time cleaning all of these up. As a result, I have very limited time to actually respond to anyone who leaves a comment. As K-IntheHouse points out:
I often see that I had missed replying to a genuine question or concern from a reader whom I could have helped in a timely manner
My thoughts exactly!
I’m also going to be turning off KeywordLuv on this blog, except on the KeywordLuv home page. This will remain nofollow so commentators won’t get any link love (thereby inviting spammers), but it will allow prospective users of the plugin to try it out.
I remain convinced that KeywordLuv and a DoFollow plugin are worthwhile, especially when you are starting out, but there is no doubt that it makes you a target of the spammers. I get hit pretty badly because I rank no 1 for KeywordLuv, which is what a lot of spammers search for.
The KeywordLuv / DoFollow combination is great for newer blogs that want to get some traffic. Also, some commentators will stick around and become valuable members of your community. The question is whether the number of spam comments is manageable.
They no longer are for me. Bye bye DoFollow.