It seems the blogging community is trying to “fight” back in the comment spam battle. There is a concerted effort in progress to increase the Google PageRank of Wikipedia for the term “online poker.” Somehow, bloggers feel if they can increase Wikipedia’s PageRank, that the spamming of their blogs will stop.
Is this a viable effort, or a show of infantile force? I think there are several issues at hand here.
First, blogging is coming under increasing fire as the “new spam” (which I will explain later today). Otherwise legitimate bloggers across the land will soon be blamed for gaming Google, this time as vigilantes. Second, increasing the PageRank of a single highly used search term is not going to solve anyone’s problems with comment spam. It might teach comment spammers a lesson in the short run, through the show of brute force, but in the end comment spammers will find new tricks. Furthermore, as a prescient post at Slashdot contends (see Slashdot | ‘Online Poker’ Googlebomb), people who search for “online poker” likely want to play online poker, and will be none too happy when they wind up learning the definition of “online poker” at Wikipedia. Inevitably, they will blame bloggers for this, exacerbating the blog/spam issue, and using Google as a pawn to do so.
I think some of this effort pivots on a dearth of knowledge amongst everyday bloggers as to exactly how to fight comment spam. This ignorance will only further comment spammers’ cause. There are several countermeasures specifically designed to thwart comment and trackback spam, and/or make it useless to begin with, but they do no good if they are unknown and/or not installed.
One of the finest efforts I have seen is MT-Blacklist, a Movable Type plugin and clearinghouse effort to block comment and trackback spam before it hits. I wonder if Blogger and other blog-points have implemented similar efforts, and I wonder why more Movable Type users haven’t installed it. The second is the rel=nofollow effort, which tags comments and trackbacks so Yahoo!, Google, and MSN crawlers ignore links with the tag when calculating page rankings. The only problem with rel=nofollow is, like MT-Blacklist, that you have to know about it and install it for it to work.
I won’t get into the ramblings about PageRank, and why it has become such a blatant target for those hell-bent on gaming the system – that is a problem for Google (they made their bed, and now they have to lie in it).
But I think you get the point. Installing these tools is a much better way to fight comment and trackback spam than wielding vigilant swords and screaming “see what we can do.”