So here’s a thought – albeit a short and unconvincing one that hasn’t really got much of my heart behind it – about the problem of weblog comment spammers. For those of you who are unaware of the phenomenon, basically it’s pretty simple: if your site is linked to by a well linked-to site, then Google ranks you higher in search results. Therefore if you’re someone with a desperate need to exploit the unhappy, unconfident or socially awkward by selling them Viagra or weight-loss drugs or ‘the banned CD’, the apparent best way to claw that little bit further up the greasy pole is to start posting specious comments on people’s weblogs filled with links to your commercial sites.
Or at least that’s the theory of the soulless evil self-interested wankers who undertake such activities. God knows if it works or not – certainly Google’s algorithms aren’t public. Moreover, there was a suggestion a while back that only links in which the link-text reflected something on the linked-to page would count for their weighting. So it might not work at all. Nonetheless, it continues and as it does so, each and every time, another weblog owner starts to feel more and more disillusioned with the web in which they operate and about the unscrupulousness of their fellow man. The perpetrators of this kind of spamming aren’t committing crimes against humanity, but they’re still basically scum. They’re people who would spit in your face if you couldn’t stop them and they could make a few cents out it.
One possibility that occurs to me that’s less technical in scope is a “Terms and Conditions”-style tick-box that you have to click when you post a comment. In the Terms and Conditions could be a statement that posting a comment constitutes an agreement that you will not link to any commercial sites whatsoever and that anyone who does so has basically entered into a tacit agreement to pay for whatever the length of time that link remains on the site at the rate of $100 a day (rounded up to the nearest day). You could then bill the sites concerned via their addresses in whois and take them to the small claims court if they didn’t pay-up. I’m fairly sure this wouldn’t work on the whole but it might put the wind up a few people and make them think twice about it. Has anyone got any other suggestions?