Nice to know they have been thinking about this. Over at Google Blog there’s a new posting on how the big search engines are getting together to fight the comment spam blight. (The clueless spammer referred to below is still at it on this site, by the way.)
So here’s the (a?) solution:
we’ve been testing a new tag that blocks it. From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel=’nofollow’) on hyperlinks, those links won’t get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn’t a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it’s just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists.
It’ll probably require an update of blogging software to get this added automagically to links put into comments. Ah, and there’s the rub. With millions of blogs out there, can you force everyone to upgrade? It’s the Microsoft problem - once the faulty software is out there in individual hands, you can’t recall it en masse. Upgrading is a really gradual process unless there’s a very urgent reason to do so. For example, I should upgrade this version of WP to 1.2.2, as presently the main feed doesn’t validate. But there’s always something more urgent to do. This could be a great technical solution. Now we just have to solve the human side..
Update 0035 (honest): I think Andrew Orlowski has this right in a piece over at The Register; as does Michael Pollitt in a comment on this post. Comment spam is, like email and Usenet spam, a ‘tragedy of the commons’ problem (everybody owns it, so nobody looks after it); made even worse in blogs because spammers can set up their own. And you can bet that they’re not going to be using “rel=nofollow” on the links they put there.
What’s also certain - as Andrew also points out - is that Robert Scoble has, as usual, completely failed to stop and think about how this will really work in practice. Furrfu! The guy’s 40, for gawsake. Is he ever going to learn?