No "nofollow"

Now, this is provocative and flies some kites which will come crashing to earth, but I can't not link to it given the identifiable importance of the issues at stake. For my "considered" thoughts, you can always go to Foolippic and read my comments there.


We want you to not follow nofollow and support us. We give you some very good reasons against nofollow and show you, that there are a lot of people out there, thinking like we do.

12 Reasons against nofollow

  1. nofollow does not prevent comment spam
  2. nofollow is semantically incorrect
  3. nofollow harms the connections between web sites
  4. nofollow is not useful for humans, just for search engines using PageRank or a similar technique
  5. nofollow could be used to shut web sites out
  6. nofollow discriminates legitimate users as spammers
  7. nofollow heists commentators' earned attention
  8. nofollow will not stop comment spam
  9. nofollow could be used to further discriminate weblogs
  10. nofollow prevents the Web from being a web
  11. nofollow eliminates the dissemination of free speech
  12. nofollow was developed in privacy with only search engine companies taking part in the discussion

And this from John Hoke:

I have been running Expression Engine for about 3 months now, and I must say that I can count the spam I receive on one hand opposed to when I used MT where I would average 200 per day. What is the difference? My traffic is the same, I am getting more real comments, and I am using captchas so that it is quite difficult for automated bots to spam me. Is it a perfect solution? No, but it is much better than this nofollow snowjob.

Comment spam and "nofollow"

"re Google’s rel="nofollow"  initiative, I am pleased to see that voices critical and/or doubtful are making themselves heard. With due acknowledgment of the anti-social nature of irresponsible self-promotion by linking to your own blog in comments, I share the anxieties of other small (and not so small) bloggers and left some thoughts on Anil Dash's post yesterday, The Social Impacts of Software Choices.

Will the "cure" be worse than the disease? Ben Hammersley thinks so: 'forcing comment spammers to cast a wider net will cause them to target the long tail of people who have no idea what to do'. There's also the issue of whether or not companies are right to have imposed this initiative on their customers, about which TDavid makes good points. Various writers have raised the problem that webmasters now have an easy way to 'abuse the tag and control the PageRank of their pages' (eg, Slowplay).

I was pleased to read John Battelle yesterday, questioning the rel="nofollow" development in a fair, calm and open-minded way. I would have hoped to have had more discussion within the blogosphere before this move had been forced on so many of us. John Battelle wrote:

… what bothers me is that there may well be an ecology that evolves based on the link mojo in comments which we can't imagine, but that would be important and wonderful, and that will not develop if every comment has a tag telling search engines to ignore it. Like it or not, search engines are now processors of our collective reality, and fiddling with that requires some contemplation.

In an update to this same posting, John Battelle adds (leading off from observations about Anil Dash's post and the discussion-in-comments it attracted):

No Follow will discourage people from doing what I'll call "fully web-expressed writing" on other people's blogs - where they write in that rather post-modern way of linking as they write, which is what we all do in this bloggy world we live in. A deft web writer is like a spider pulling strands to support his or her central thesis - it's an emerging form of communication, and from what I can tell, it's going to be very important long term to our culture.

If as a commentator on someone's blog, you know that you're spending ten, twenty, or more minutes crafting a response, and that response - because it lives in someone's comments field - will be ignored by the conferrers of future societal attention (ie - search indexes) - then I can imagine many folks will simply avoid writing thoughtful responses in comments altogether. Instead, they'll post on their own site. It seems that one of the things No Follow will do - subtly or not - is discourage active and intelligent dialog on a post. That is not, to my mind, a good thing.

Ben Hammersley concluded:

… as respecting rel="nofollow" will involve loosing an enormous amount of implicit metadata, any tools that are interested in that will be forced to ignore it. Technorati will have to choose if it’s a site that measures raw interconnectivity, or some curious High School metric of look-at-that-person-but-don’t-pay-her-any-attention that the selective use of the rel="nofollow" attribute will produce. For many purposes, this would mean the results are totally debased and close to useless.

And TrackBacks? Like John Battelle, I've been led to believe that they are affected by rel="nofollow". Is this true?

Nova Spivack: The Future of the Web

A few days ago, Nova posted a very interesting analysis of where we've come from and where we're going in the world of social technology. Now, he has set out his vision of the Metaweb: 'The Metaweb is emerging from the convergence of the Web, Social Software and the Semantic Web.'


A larger image can be viewed here.

TrackBack, PubSub and bi-directionalism on the web

Bob Wyman, writing at As I May Think, has made the case for TrackBack's great significance in overcoming a major shortcoming of the web:

TrackBack allows writers to build links from the blogs or items about which they write back to their comments. The technology exists in order to overcome a fundamental limitation of the web as we know it — web links are uni-directional. Thus, while it is easy to link from your blog to an entry in another blog and thus easy for readers of your blog to navigate to the other blog, HTTP provides no way for readers of the other blog to discover your link to that blog. For someone to be able to "trackback" from an item in one blog to all the other blogs that refer to it requires either the use of a protocol like TrackBack or a service like that builds the "back links" automatically.

This important posting goes on to make a number of points, including this about

... the ability to subscribe to "Referenced URI's" offered by allows blog owners to see *all* references to their blogs — whether or not those who created the references were even aware of what TrackBack is. So, if you're trying to find out the full list of people who comment on your blog, the subscription is the best and easiest way to go. gives you "automated TrackBack" without requiring any work on the part of those who reference your site. You can even use our "automated TrackBack" to discover "trackbacks" to blogs that don't support TrackBack or to Web Sites, FTP files, etc. ... It should be obvious that what we've done here is much more important than simply automating a feature of blogs. What we've done is enabled the construction of a two-way, bi-directional web of links between blogs and from blogs to other web resources identified by URI's. Although HTTP only supports uni-directional, one-way links, basically "patches" in the back-links automatically to construct a bi-directional web of links. If you'd like to see the full web of sites that link into your blog, or other URI, all you have to do is ask to collect the back-links for you. To do that, use our "Advanced" Subscription page and create a subscription to the "Referenced URI" of your choice.

I would not have found Bob Wyman's posting had he not left a TrackBack to my earlier posting about ... TrackBack.

Uses of TrackBack

Phillip Long, Syllabus:

The possibilities for TrackBack are only starting to be tapped. What’s clear is simple tools can make a large difference in crossing the barrier between splendid isolation and true conversation on the Web. ... Tools like TrackBack extend the blogs by providing markers between sites that can facilitate the creation of community. Retaining community in the electronic fog is a pretty good goal.
Link via (The Unreasonable Man.)

Given that this article originally appeared in the 10.1.2003 issue of Syllabus, one might wonder why we haven't got further with TrackBack in the interim.