Comment Spam Solution

December 30, 2006 | Comments Off

Comment spam seems to be a recent plague that has reached the cat/mouse stage of the arms race. I haven’t had too much of a problem on our blogs, Akismet catches it for the most part. But other people have been lamenting it lately, like on the Jira Developer Blog.

Yesterday I saw the marginally-useful NSFW HTML attribute mentioned on Slashdot and it occurred to me that this was actually a useful solution for comment spam. Follow me on this…

1. Create an attribute to the <a> tag called “spammy” or “user-submitted” or something that effectively translates into “this could be spam”.
2. Then the search engines can choose to threat it differently. Either by ignoring it entirely, treating the link suspiciously, or giving it less credence.
3. Blog and software developers can add this either forced or as an option to the blog/software configuration. I’m guessing about 7 vendors account for 99% of all blogs. Digg, Jira, anyone who suffers noise due to spam can implement it.
4. Blog spam becomes ineffective for rasing search engine standings; spammers stop (hopefully). Or at least they pursue sites/software that doesn’t implement the new attribute.

I’m having trouble seeing why this wouldn’t work. Once spam decreases people can allow anonymous comments or turn off moderation and the world can be happy again. There is one critical assumption in this plan: that a significant amount of the comment spam is used in order to try to raise search engine result position (SEO basically). If spammers are hoping to just get eyeballs to click then this wouldn’t really solve that problem at all. However based on the comment spam I’ve seen it looks like SEO is the primary goal. This seems a lot more beneficial that NSFW attributes.

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