Submitted by Compugasm on April 30, 2006 - 09:55
Yesterday, my spam catcher, called Spam Karma, caught over ten comment spams. My blog is still new, but that seemed kind of high to me. In fact, I've noticed the number of spam comments increasing over the last few weeks. I was wondering why. Here is the explanation:
If you don't already know, the goal of optimizing your site for a search engine is to get a website on the first page of search engine results. According to Google, the popularity of a website is measured as the number of links to the web site. For instance, you might give more weight to a link from a generally well rated web site (e.g. Google PageRank). Indirectly, this makes your site more important. The importance of links inevitably led to the link farming business.
Counting the number of links isn't the best method to measure the relevance of a web page. But link counting is better than nothing. Yesterdays URLFAN post seems to take a more scientific approach.
Spam is increasing, because link counting is easily automated. Blogs typically have high Page Rank (PR). Also, ping-backs create yet more links to follow. All this automated site creation, funnels yet more traffic to them. This draws more automated programs cataloging and following your links. It's a self-perpetuating circle. Once you're on top you tend to stay there, as documented by pClips from Comixpedia.
To reduce this automated spamming, a hyperlink attribute called "rel=nofollow" was created. It's basically a way to say "Do not spider and follow this link". This Interview With A Link Spammer explains how the spamming process works. Basically, he compiles lists of sites, whose hyperlinks that contain"keywords such as 'Wordpress' and 'Blogger'" and do not have the "rel=nofollow" link attribute.
Unfortunately, not only doesn't the attribute work as intended, the "rel=nofollow" will work against search engines, and against internet as a whole. Eventually, those in control of the internet will change the formula by which sites are considered important. Therefore, they must choose between ignoring entire chunks of relevant information contained within link attributes, and ping-backs, or letting comment-spammers continue to farm links. Basically, over the next few years, spam will get worse and there is no good way to stop it, because it actually works quite well as a marketing tool. "The reality is that people purchase Viagra, they require porn, they gamble online. When people do that, there's money being made."