I found myself today with the urge to finally, once and for all, find out what this “nofollow” business is. I have tried before, but either never understood it, or understood it only to discard the information. My understanding now is that the “nofollow” attribute tells search-engine crawlers whether or not I endorse the site to which I am linking. That is, if I have found a site which has helped me, and I want to give “love” back to the site, I then write a post, linking to it, NOT including the “nofollow” attribute.
The reasons why a blog might want to deal with this concept is simple: If you have a blog which has become somewhat of an authority in a specific topic, and you get a whole lot of comments, what is to hinder unscrupulous commentators from adding their own links to comments, which will then be indexed by search engine crawlers (they only see the html-source, where a link is a link, unless you mark-up specific links differently so that they stand out. That’s what “nofollow” is for.
However, when I was done reading (I searched Google, opened up a lot of tabs), I found “related links” at the bottom of one page (oh what a scourge on my time they are ;)) which lead me to another topic, “9 Easy Ways to Get More Blog Comments“, which offers up a slew of plugins which might make a difference.
One of these being the “Show Top Commentators” plugin, which purportedly gives “love” to the most active commentators of the blog. It’s a great idea but I’m just not so sure about giving the most active commentators the most love, since the quality of the comments should come into play as well. Of course, then you’d need a rating system, and a policy of who gets to rate comments, and soon it would be chaos. Having only the author rate comments could create a biased environment, running the risk that only positive comments would be rewarded. On the other hand, letting users rate each others comments… well let’s just say that it could work if only registered users were allowed to rate comments (although not their own). The sad truth is that a small portion of the unregistered commentators could not be relied upon to be honest, and would thus skew the statistics, knowing that, as they are unregistered, there is no effective means of tracking them and hindering their attempts at self-aggrandizing or sabotaging other user’s comments. I am however unaware of any such plugin which would work on ratings rather than volume.
Another (potentially) cool plugin, is WP-PostRatings which would give registered users, and possibly anonymous guests as well, the ability to rate blog posts. As with the “Top Commentator” plugin, this could be misused, this time by rivaling authors in the same niche. But that may just be the pessimistic side of me talking
In any case, there are a lot of nifty plugins for WordPress, although this one plugin seem engineered more towards generating quantities of comments rather than quality comments. And that would possibly be a better metric and a better merit for commentators.