Microsoft just release new research on blog spam which points a big finger at Google’s Blogspot for exacerbating the problem. Microsoft used a proprietary search tool to separate the good links from the bad, and stated that other free blog sites are subject to the same problems as Blogger.
Brian Krebs of The Washington Post noted that the research suggested Google’s anti-spam efforts are pretty weak. The “nofollow” tag attribute seems to be the biggest effort to date, and it is easy to see why that hasn’t worked.
The “nofollow” attribute is voluntary, meaning a blogger has to chose to put it in their comment and trackback functions, so all the nice bloggers put it in, and all the bad guys leave it out. Simple – and yes, some blog software comes with it turned on by default, but it is easily removed. The tag does nothing for the individual blogger – all it does is cover the butts of the search engines. And with search engines in a constant bragging rights battle over the number of pages they have indexed, it comes as no surprise that some might decide to go ahead and follow anyway. Throw ever improving blog anti-spam measures into the mix, and legitimate blogs become even less inclined to use the tag, as it disenfranchises the cross-blog communication and linking that makes the blogosphere so…interesting.
Of course, Microsoft isn’t the first bigwig to bring this Blogspot (and other free blog service) thing to light. Mark Cuban has been screaming about it for a while (see here and here). Nonetheless, it is a problem that the search engines have to deal with, and the burden should not necessarily fall on the blogosphere to do their work for them. Microsoft knows this, and for the first time in a while I have to give them kudos, just for pointing it out once again.