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I’m disappointed. Is that really necessary?

People in this community put so much effort into writing good content and obsessively tracking their industry and community that why should the newest site, which is itself the ultimate community-builder, deny link value to those who contribute to it?
Comments35 Comments  

Comments

Avatar Administrator
from Michelle 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 0

After banning another user for attempting to submit another bunch of spam to the site I’d say ... I’d say ... well, it’s unfortunate that there’s not a way to selectively use nofollow on this site - yet. At any rate, I’m sure Danny will post an official decision or policy on it and whether or not we’ll actually be using it. I’m literally *shocked* that you already blogged about something that was on the site for less than an hour. And I’d ask that people exercise a little restraint in jumping to conclusions as they see things happening or changing ummm ...later at night... on the site. Consider it a possibility that we are testing features and functionality before assuming the worst.

Avatar Moderator
from Sebastian 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 4

Actually, that’s not the first nofollow experiment here. A few weeks ago the jump links were nofollowed for a while. Although I’m not exactly a fan of nofollow crap, a site like Sphinn attracts assclowns, so nofollow is a legit weapon in the arsenal. I’m confident that it gets applied in a sensible and selective way. Also, look at a story with an ID less than 200 or so to read Danny’s nofollow announcement.

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from TimDineen 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It was applied to every external link, not selectively. Point to that link if you can find it?

Avatar Administrator
from Michelle 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Tim - http://sphinn.com/story/234#c291 scroll to the ’Nofollow’ portion at the bottom.

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from TimDineen 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 1

And now it’s gone. Did I over-react? Maybe. OK, I did. Having read Danny’s previous comments on how he wanted to let the community grow and make Sphinn its own - it’s one of the reasons I’ve become active here - I also was shocked when suddenly seeing the nofollow appear without prior discussion. So I felt it an important matter to share and I hope this discussion will continue. Let’s hear what the community thinks about implementing nofollow again in the future...

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 7

So.... Way back here: http://sphinn.com/story/1523 I said: "Nofollow: Links don’t have them now, but they’ll almost certainly be added. It won’t prevent spam, but it does have some deterrent value. And yes, members that prove a history of trusted posting might well be able to have links without it." And here I said: http://sphinn.com/story/1523 "FYI, eventually comments will go to nofollow to further discourage link spamming that sadly will come, though maybe we’ll find a way for members that are more trusted through time here or reputation built to have that removed. I’ll bring this issue back up, when we get to having the capability [reputation capability]." Both of these mentions come off the key pages listed in the help area: http://sphinn.com/help-info.php So seeing nofollow come up shouldn’t have been a surprise, nor was there a huge outcry when I said we’d be doing it. As Sebastian said, we actually did have it up on the site a few weeks ago for several days, and there was again no outcry over it. However, I had it pulled down because both comment links AND story links had to take nofollow, and I only wanted comment links to get them. The reason for that is simple. To discourage spam. Won’t stop it, but it does help. And as I said, there was also the idea that when we bring back reputations for members, those with a track record would be able to post without nofollow. But someone who registers to drop a few links (as they do), they wouldn’t get a gain. Also understand that as a site, in my view, if you’re deemed as an easy place to spam, Google and gang are going to simply decide to discount all your link love that you can send. But if they can see you’re not letting comments get abused, then the key link you would like to see count -- the main story link, might do well. Having said all that, when nofollow went back up tonight, it was still hitting story links, so I asked for it to come down. In addition, I realized we don’t need it at all for the moment since NONE of our comment are getting indexed since they are delivered via Javascript. So we need to fix that, then I probably will bring back nofollow for links in comment. And no, you didn’t overreact, and you’ve got every right to comment on something that quickly if you like. It simply shows you care a lot about the community, and I appreciate that. I think the main thing I would have suggested would to first start a discussion here on something you notice, so that you can get more information before moving to do a blog post. That’ll make your posts better because after some discussion, you’ll have more information to argue a point more if you disagree with it. Hope that explain things more, and by all mean, folks, sound off about whether you think nofollow should come to comments when we get them back in a way to be indexed at all (FYI, indexed as part of a story -- they do get indexed as part of our comments feed).

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from Lyndon 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 4

Yes it will be a shame, but we have to live in the real world and I would rather have nofollow with reduced spam than the other way round. I’m really happy about the way Sphinn is going, I don’t even mind the slowness as I realise it’s early days yet. Most of all I love it that I find fresh new blogs to add to my creaking at the seams Google Reader. Well done the Sphinn crew.

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from MattC 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 1

No link love yields no link love. It will be a shame the day this site goes nofollow. Personally, my posts are usually discussions or links to news sites so I got nothing to lose ATM but the whole nofollow thing is crappy. If SPAM becomes a problem I would hope you guys would try to step up your Moderation of the site first which it seems you are doing now. If it gets way out of control I could understand the decision to nofollow HOWEVER nofollow does not mean that you do not have to moderate still. You still gotta clean up stuff. I know its used as a deterrent not to spam but...

Avatar Moderator
from graywolf 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 5

HAving played with taking NF off and then having to add it back do the level of hand spam I completely understand. I’d say for stories that make it to the homepage have NF removed. Also for trusted/established accounts have NF removed. Lastly for stories which get nixed and pulled from the queue for obvious spamming, add in the noindex nofollow meta tag conditionally.

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from CarrieHill 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 1

As an owner of a MILDLY popular travel blog - i deal with spam crap every day...It has about 1/6zillionth of the traffic but decent PR so they spam me up = my spamkarma works pretty good, but we still have some issues here and there. Links are a nice benefit, but if they add no-follows it wont stop me from sphinning - for me it’s more about community, networking and a place to find things I’m interested in "aggregated" into one spot with multiple contributors. I really like sphinn, and my Rss Feed "addiction" is waning - I’m on about step 2 of a 12 step program.

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from steaprok 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Well I guess my question is who decides which are trusted, accounts to not have a no follow . Who decides who is reputable, and what happens when the people deciding this, start to allow their own personal views to cloud the decision making process. Where is that line or threshold you have to pass to be reputable or trusted here. 5 posts, 1 post, or is it that you know the right person or kiss the right persons a*s!! In my humble opinion, it should be one way or the other, the moment you start selective application of no follow, is the day you fall into the same trap many of the companies and sites we knock so much have. I totally understand having to add no follow due to spammers, but what I don’t agree with is the fact of possibly setting up a policy that selectively applies a no follow. How is that different from Google allowing Wikipedia, because their "reputable" , to dominate the SERPS. i don’t know I guess I’m passionate about this topic, because I find that many Social Networks, become very reminiscent of High School cliques, and I think that misses the whole point. But again, maybe I’m just missing the point, thats always a possibility too. =)

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from TimDineen 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Thanks for not shooting the messenger here! I’m glad we are talking about this. There is no better community to solve this NF question than a bunch of search engineers or those who try to decipher them. While most pligg sites couldn’t be bothered, this site would be well served by making efforts to figure out the best way to reward good content. There are a number of ways to do this, graywolf has suggest some good ideas. You could get real crazy building an NF-algo based on user activity/reputation levels +/- quantity of sphinns per article, etc. I’d be wary of doing it based on human-based editorial factors (such as having appointed "trusted editors") and it’d be unfortunate for great usability or analytics (or Yahoo paid search) topics to not get some credit just because they are less popular to talk about and sphinn than blogging or SMO. Such less-popular articles might not have a chance to hit the Sphinn homepage but are just as valuable.

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from skinner 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I think Graywolf has the best idea. Just take the NF off the posts that make it to the home page. A little wolfie common sense. :)

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 6

Let me be really clear. We’re not talking about adding nofollow to the story links, OK? That’s why you don’t see it up right now -- we haven’t been able to apply nofollow to only comment links, and we don’t want the story links being caught by it. We definitely want those to have link love. We have moderators as well as a community that regularly sees what stories are coming in. It’s a pain but more manageable to wipe out spam that comes in that way. So doing nofollow on story links isn’t as essential. It’s harder to police comments. Someone can easily run around and drop off-topic links. Nofollow to me will help a bit with that. Remember when we launched, I saw a number of people comment like "get your non nofollow links while you can." Well you know, that kind of sucks. It sends a message not to be submitting because you have quality content but because look dude, we can game links. Hey, I’m also a realist and understand that will happen. But if you nofollow comments, you have fewer people running around whispering that this is an easy way to get some link love. You can still get link love here by doing a story submission, but that’s going to take slightly more effort -- and it should. And I’ll stress again I’m not assuming nofollow will solve the problem. It won’t. We still have to look out for spam. But it adds one more layer of deterrent. So got it? Nofollow is being discussed for links within comments only. So now to how it might get removed there, if we go ahead with it. The software itself has a way of determining the reputation of someone here, based on your posting activity, time at the site, Sphinning and so on. We simply haven’t switched that feature on right now. So it’s something you earn. The variables can be tweaked, but I think it would be a fairly low level of entry -- you’d need an account that was older than say a day or two, and you’d probably have had to submitted two or three items or made a number of comments, some minimum level of activity over a fairly short period of time. That helps deter most of the lazy drive-bys who will open an account, then submit 20 nike shoes at discount prices post and comments and go away. Doesn’t stop them, of course, but it’s an added barrier. In terms of not doing things selectively, I’m afraid I’m fine with that, as long as there’s some clear reasons for doing so. Nofollow for comments but not stories? I think I’ve explained the reason it makes sense there, as well as why later on, if someone has enough rep as determined by the system, it also makes sense to drop that off.

Avatar
from MattC 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 6

"The software itself has a way of determining the reputation of someone here, based on your posting activity, time at the site, Sphinning and so on." @Danny - not to be cynical but I hope variables like sphinns and comment votes aren’t too heavily weighed. Its gonna be awhile before the "popularity effect" wheres off. You are one of the few people that actually get a vote on their comment. (obligatory compliment) Regardless, I trust you and the crew will come up with something fair for everyone. You seem to be a pretty fair individual and you also seem to always be aware of the End-user POV. Remember Danny, now the tables are turned, whereas you analyze the search engines on everything they do, you got a whole social media community doing the same to you ;)

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Heh -- I’m well aware of tables being turned. I highly recommend it for any marketer. Right now, reputation doesn’t flow to help determine whether a story goes popular or not. Instead, it’s number of votes as well as commenting activity. Down the line, the Pligg software might evolve to allow such weighting. If so, it probably would be another useful signal to introduce. We can talk about that implementation more if and when that capability ever comes. We don’t have it right now :)

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from TheMadHat 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 3

MattC - I voted on your comment so smile a little. I’m on Danny’s side. I think if you take the time to write something meaningful that relates to the topic at hand your links should have some weight. People will always post comments saying "hey check out my post on this" but in the large scheme of things manually spamming like that isn’t going to do them much good. This solution will deter the automated comment spammers and still allow some link love to be passed for those who have shown they’re trustworthy. Personally I rarely link out to my own site off of a post unless it completely relates to what they’ve written. I know I get irritated when I post something on linkbait and Joe spammer says "hey, check out my link on keyword density". That gets an automatic delete. I’m going to turn nofollow off on my site because meaningful conversation should be meaningful to the search engines. Granted, spam probably won’t be a big problem with my 100 subscribers so we’ll see.

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from MattC 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@TheMadHat, awww thank you :)

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from weboptimist 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 1

It’s a drag, but I think everyone knew NF would have to be implemented at some point. Trusting folks to behave is kind of like "honor among thieves" I’m afraid.

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from AmyGreer 3769 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Danny - Your constructive and reasonable reaction to what looks to have been a knee-jerk response demonstrates an admirable level of leadership and equanimity. For that, thank you. As to adding nofollow to comments when you can, I’d say go for it. People should be commenting for the sake of adding value to the community rather than looking for those followed links.

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from jfj3rd 3768 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Regardless if NF’s are added or if they are not to all or some links on Sphinn it shouldn’t really matter. This is a social network and if an article is well written then others will credit the source in their blogs and on their websites if it applies to them. Sphinn, as with other social networks, should only be a place where people come together to interact. When that happens then that is where the true link love comes from. My $0.02

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from Tinu 3768 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Having read the comments and what Danny said... I’d still use the site if no follow became necessary and was implemented to keep the site from being taken down by spam. It’s one thing to use no follow on a blog - with that the variables are sketchy. You might get other benefits from commenting on a blog (not the least of which is the participation itself). Even where people abuse marginally, I feel that my sincere commenters should get something back from the activity - and that’s what I think is at the center of the no-follow issue, that you should be able to give back to the users who help generate content. However, just because this is one of the ways that is available, doesn’t mean it *has* to be the way submitted stories are rewarded for their conribution. Especially since Sphinn *definitely* sends you traffic, even when you don’t reach the front page.

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from fantomaster 3768 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I’m positively against any generalized NF crap and I agree with Danny in not wanting to burden the story links with it. As for comments, why not make them all NF by default when posted and release them after editorial scrutiny? @Michelle - being "shocked" about people blogging as closely to an event as they can really sounds, erm, fairly funny, to put it mildly. Isn’t that what blogging and Web 2.0 etc. etc. is all about? Why do you expect people to wait till you get your act together? If you must change the format, announce it in a timely manner rather than expect people to wait till some comment may or not be issued. Jumping to premature conclusions may not be to many people’s taste (I know it isn’t to mine), but do let’s get real about this - if people are more or less forced to play attention whores to make their mark, that’s what they’ll do, so rather than blaming them for it you’d be better advised to learn how to handle it on your terms yourself rather than trying to impose them on whomever.

Avatar Administrator
from Michelle 3768 Days ago #
Votes: -1

@fantomaster - yes, I was and remain "shocked" at the speed with which the conclusion was jumped to - and blogged - about a site that is still in beta. A site that has been very open and forthcoming about it’s plans (see the various posts about nofollows referred to above). We’ve implemented and removed a number of features since launching - without issuing a press release for each. If your point is that I should expect people to immediately blog about something, without being fully informed and without having complete information (because, as you imply, that somehow amounts to me not having my act together) - trust me, I’ve seen enough ’reporting’ on blogs to know what really matters in the space. I was simply asking that our users raise the bar a bit, or as Danny mentioned in his comment, "I think the main thing I would have suggested would to first start a discussion here on something you notice, so that you can get more information before moving to do a blog post. That’ll make your posts better because after some discussion, you’ll have more information to argue a point more if you disagree with it." I really don’t see how my comments amount to or warrant any of the accusations you make in yours. But perhaps I just don’t have my act together.

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from MattC 3768 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I agree with fantomaster about being shocked. I’m not sure you can be shocked about how fast someone in this industry will pick up on something and blog about it. It happens everywhere. Look at all the Google Apps still in beta, the second someone spots something it is front page on everyones blog.

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from fantomaster 3768 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Michelle: It’s one of the oldest rules on the Web: If you upload it, expect it to get taken up immediately. If you want to keep it secret, restrict access. As MattC points out entirely correctly: Being "still in beta" doesn’t give you leeway in terms of people keeping mum. They may be entirely off the mark in their conclusions ("ok, so it’s still in beta"), but unless you’re a news agency embargoing stories till a set release date, I don’t see how you can realistically expect otherwise. Danny’s neatly refuted all claims to surprise by quoting extensively from his previous post outlining the NF issue in detail, and that’s absolutely ok IMV. And again: I don’t like knee jerk conclusions either, and that’s not at all the point here. Just don’t expect to slow down other’s reaction times by emotional appeals, please. But alright, if you prefer professing to being shocked nevertheless, I guess that’s really not our problem. So enjoy.

Avatar Administrator
from Michelle 3768 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@MattC and @fantomaster - Are we really going to discuss whether or not I was actually shocked, and whether or not I can be shocked about this?? Surely the more important take away from this entire exercise is whether or not, and how nofollows will be implemented. @fantomaster - I understand your points about if something is live, it’s free game. Fair enough. I’m not naive, I wasn’t expecting that my comments would prohibit everyone (or anyone) from exercising free their will. I’m free to make requests, people are free to ignore them. Not sure how you read my comments as an ’emotional appeal’. I was simply replying to a user that saw something temporarily on the site, to give an explanation as to why he was seeing that, and to point out that things may come and go as we decide on policy. And while doing, I inserted my honest reaction to his blogging about it so quickly. Whether or not you think my reaction is warranted, is inconsequential. It’s the reaction I had, and I was being honest about it. I find it interesting that there is more debate going on about whether or not I should have been "shocked", than whether or not people should blog without having their facts straight. This is a fairly trivial example - as there’s no harm, no foul here - but that’s not always the case (see Engadget) and I don’t think it’s naive, or related to some "problem" you think I have - to expect better of people wielding a tool of influence.

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from SEOish 3768 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Sebastian - I haven’t heard "assclown" since MattCutts used it in 2005 (are you reading old posts?...) Wolf-howl - Great suggestion Danny - Matt over at SEOmoz recently applied some selective nofollow techniques, maybe he will have some insight on this. Tim - Nice catch/post and I want to highlight something you said which I feel is wayyy more important than nofollow. You said you were surprised to see this happen without prior discussion. Even though Danny posted information about nofollows before, I think you are right to point that out. Some very real elements of community building are ignored when major changes occur to a site without prior discussion. It is a bit disappointing to a community when they feel that their input isn’t required for major changes. Luckily we are talking about Danny Sullivan here, so there is very little to worry about as far as I am concerned. I can not think right off of a better example in the last few years of a major community receiving more input from it’s creator. Danny reads the comments and stays ontop of things extraordinarily well, as his lengthy comments here indicate. -My take on nofollows is I don’t really give a rats ass, in fact I am quite surprised at the uproar.

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from Halfdeck 3767 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Sphinn already offers exposure and traffic, so I don’t really care if all links are nofollowed either, though I agree selective nofollow policy is probably the best way to go. Anyway, if being on the front page of Sphinn for a week doesn’t get you any editorial links from other blogs, then what will? I’m actually finding Sphinn extremely useful. For a week I was at a loss after deleting most of my RSS subscriptions, but with Sphinn I can track the buzz in the SEOsphere without wading through a sea of RSS feeds every day.

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from Feydakin 3767 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Ok, late to the party as usual.. My question revolves more around the effectiveness of NF at reducing spam.. Has anyone actually seen real stats showing that NF could reduce spam submissions?? I happily admit that I haven’t given NF any thought at all since the whole thing seems anti-internet to me, but I can’t see any dedicated spammers not posting simply because there is a NF tag in use.. Maybe I’m wrong..

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from MattC 3767 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I was never a big fan of the NF tag myself. Some people use it to the extreme - thinking they can control every bit of PageRank that comes there way. And then you got others that just want to be PR snobs. Ironically the same people that probably use NF are the same ones who say they disable the toolbar pr bar. I’ve never seen figures myself. I’m sure it works to some degree because why bother spamming if you aren’t gonna get any benefit. At the same time I wonder how many people are really spamming an SEO Hub like Sphinn? lol (also, i didnt mean to criticize ppl as much as it might have sounded in the first paragraph)

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from fantomaster 3767 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@MattC: >the same people that probably use NF are the same ones who say they disable the toolbar pr bar Not sure what makes you believe that - personally, I no plenty of people who detest the NF AND the Google toolbar, myself included. Essentially, I’m only using NF on my blog when linking out to Google, which is obviously a political statement and part of the No To Web Apartheid operation. @Feydakin: Comment spam is usually automated and while the better tools allow you to weed out sites employing NF, comment spammers in general couldn’t care less. It’s like spaghetti marketing, hoping that something will stick anyway. That’s why I wouldn’t expect spam rates to drop significantly due to using NF. It might arguably fend off the bottom feeder riff-raff that works via manual submissions but certainly not the big boys who’ll simply set their bots to the task and move on.

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from MattC 3767 Days ago #
Votes: 0

> personally, I no plenty of people who detest the NF AND the Google toolbar, myself included. @fantomaster - well then nice to meet ya.

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from Feydakin 3766 Days ago #
Votes: 0

>That’s why I wouldn’t expect spam rates to drop significantly due to using NF. It might arguably fend off the bottom feeder riff-raff that works via manual submissions but certainly not the big boys who’ll simply set their bots to the task and move on. @fantomaster - which is why I don’t see how NF could possibly discourage spam in an meaningful way.. The bot guys don’t care, and the manual guys are too clueless to understand it.. Which, in turn, brings us back to the point of, what’s the point?

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from bestoptimized 3766 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Comments should be nofollowed but stories (those with at least 5 or 10 sphinns) should not. It shouldn’t be too hard to program that into the script.

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