No More NoFollow

I asked Sumeet Jain if I could republish this post of his here, because though I had heard of the issue, I didn’t fully understand it. He was more than happy to agree. I thought it best to include all parts of his article including comments. I encourage you to check out the links along the way for more information and an additional tutorial should you decide remove nofollow yourself. –ME “Liz” Strauss

no more nofollow
by Sumeet Jain

Monday, December 19th

If you’re a blog owner, please pay attention. Early this year, Google announced the nofollow value for the rel attribute. This made it possible for blog owners to stop Google from crediting sites comments link to. This was mostly received positively and most blogging platforms picked it up. WordPress, the most popular blogging platform, includes nofollow by default. The logic behind the move is to shut out comment spammers by not rewarding them. Whether or not that’s an effective way to shut them out is not what I care to discuss. I dislike nofollow because it’s antithetical to the web.

So I’ve removed it from my installation of WordPress, and I encourage you to do the same.

Removing nofollow yourself:

Open wp-includes/comment-functions.php.

Find “function get_comment_author_link”
Replace “return = “$author
with “return = “$author“.
Save and close.

Removing nofollow via plugin:
I haven’t tested any of these, but they’re available nonetheless.


Follow URL

For an detailed explanation of why nofollow is bad, check out NoNoFollow.


a little birdie named Jem told me,
There’s more to getting rid of nofollow that editing wp-includes/comment-functions.php – I wrote a tutorial on it AGES ago. :) You can find it here: nofollow removal tutorial

i thought about it and responded,
Hi Jem, thanks for the link to the tutorial – nofollow certainly has been around long enough that many tutorials were written. I wanted to wait a bit and see what kind of reception it got and impact it had on the community. It’s sad that the way it was used was simply to stick it in all the comments – like a blanket solution to a very intricate problem.

It might have been nicer if platforms like WordPress were strategic in their use of nofollow. For example, if a blog has moderation enabled, then all comments can at least be shown initially but have nofollow included. I can definitely see a couple uses for it, but it really is unfortunate that the only prolific use of nofollow was to kill linking.

As a side note to others reading this, Jem’s tutorial will remove nofollow for links within the comment as well. For example, the link to her tutorial in her comment above would not have the nofollow value. Some of you may like to maintain that value while others may not.

a little birdie named Jem told me,
“like a blanket solution to a very intricate problemâ€? – I couldn’t have put it better myself.

I don’t have anything against those who choose to use nofollow, although I don’t believe in it myself.. my major problem with it when I used WordPress was that it was forced upon people. Why not have it as an optional feature? Of course, it’s not a problem for me since I coded my own weblog, heh.

i thought about it and responded,
I do have something against those who choose to use nofollow. It’s likely my own ignorance, because I can’t think of why they would use it.

a little birdie named Tauquil told me,
I’m all with you on this one.

i thought about it and responded,
Glad to have your support, Tauquil. I noticed that your blog is one of the few that does follow links. Props to you.

You’ll find this post and the follow-up post here:

This article: no more nofollow

The follow-up post: nofollow advocacy

–Sumeet and Liz

Related articles:
How to Code Accessible Links–Part 1
Blogger/ Firefox–Editing Trap
Blog Construction–What’s Your Function?
Use Bloglines OPML to Find Interesting Blogs


  1. says

    Thank you Liz for pointing out Sumeet’s article, and thank you Sumeet for writing it. Before now I was so unaware of the nofollow issue that I wasn’t even aware it was an issue! I’m now going to have to sit down and brood on what is best for me.

    I do agree with what Sumeet said in the comments on his follow up article:
    I enable comments on my blog because I have a confidence in my readership. I have no problem at all giving’s vote of quality to any link in the comments section. Of course, if it’s spam, I’ll delete it with a smile…

    Then again, I can also see instances when it isn’t such a good idea. As I said, I’m going to have to brood.

    (Bad WP though for making it an automatic thing – there really should be a box that you can check/uncheck to turn on/off the nofollow behaviour).


  2. says

    Hi Cas,

    Thank you for being open-minded and willing to “brood” on this. For a site like yours – one that gets a few comments on each post – it’s a very important issue to consider.

    If you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to ask.

  3. says

    Thanks, Cas,
    for your comments on Sumeet’s article. I barely knew about it until I had read Sumeet’s piece and that’s why I thought it was important to share it with all of you.

    Neither Sumeet or I are supposing to tell people how to think. We’re trusting that people will come to a decision that they feel is right. Like you, Cas, I really don’t like it when others tell me how to think or take my decisions away from me. In this case, it seems like the primary school thing “Everyone’s is punished because some kids messed up.”

    On the other hand, every issue worth thinking about always has many points of view and this one is no exception.

    Thanks too, to you, Sumeet, for making folk aware of the issue. That’s always the first step in any valuable dialogue.

  4. says

    I echo Liz’s sentiments, save for one clarification. I’m not telling you how to think, but I am being so bold as to tell you what conclusion you ought to arrive at. Yes, it’s true that it’s just my opinion… But it’s my opinion of what you ought to conclude.

    It sounds pompous and cocky, but that’s not my intention. If I truly believe in something, shouldn’t I try my hardest to convince others of it? Naturally, I’d listen to their objections and do my best to counter them, and it’s possible that I’m convinced otherwise along the way. But I’ll do everything I can to convince them of my belief until I’m shown that what I believe is wrong.

    This is the case for everything – not just nofollow.

  5. says

    Well said, Sumeet,
    As we used to say at a really fine company where I once worked,
    “I may know nothing of what you are talking about, but I’m a smart person, persuade me.”

    In my case, that’s just what you did.

  6. says

    I have, for a trial period, turned the nofollow off using the NoFollow plugin. (I couldn’t face getting down and dirty with the WP code till I was sure this is for me).

    My main problem now is that I have no control over the outward links my little blog is propagating. I trust my readers and spam that does get through is swiftly pounced upon and removed. However, now when a reader comments and includes a link back in their name, I am in a way giving the Bright Meadow Seal of Approval to their blogs in the form of an outlink Google can follow. What happens when someone leaves me a comment that isn’t spam, is actually rather nice in their comment, but owns a blog I don’t approve of?

    It seems rude to then go in and edit their comment to remove that link, but I am hesitant to leave the link because I just dislike their blog on a personal level. Before in nofollow mode I could leave this link because only humans could follow it and humans are capable of making their own minds up on whether they like something or not.

    Now? This individual gets a inbound link from me.

    I grossly simplify, and am asking mainly because it is one of the hypotheticals that I am brooding on.

    I am also genuinely curious as to what is considered good form with editing someone else’s comments. (So long as it isn’t overly offensive) Do you just accept it and leave it as is? Possibly with a comment of your own asking the person to be nicer in the future. Do you go in, edit it, and hope the person doesn’t notice? Or do you go in, edit, and then comment to tell them you’ve done the deed? Or variations on a theme.

    I’m in need of a bit more persuasion I think.

    Cas, the probably-thinking-about-this-too-much.

  7. says

    Hi Cas,

    You raise very good questions. I hope my answers are at least half as good.

    You ask, “What happens when someone leaves me a comment that isn’t spam, is actually rather nice in their comment, but owns a blog I don’t approve of?”

    My belief it that this is a price one pays for having comments on their site. People who post good comments deserve something to show one’s appreciation of it. A backlink in the form of a followed comment link is just the thing. If someone posts a good comment and you happen to like their site, consider adding them to your blogroll.

    Regarding the issue of editing someone’s comment, the answer is less universal to me. I place the value of my commenter’s sincerity above the value of a reader’s comfort. Some people (most?) don’t do this, and they have their reasons. If you do want to to edit someone’s comment, do so without hesitation and make sure the change isn’t something you’ll end up apologizing for later on. And really don’t apologize. Notes like, “Sorry I had to edit this. Please be more considerate in the future” are simply dishonest. You’re not sorry for having edited the comment. If you were, you wouldn’t have edited it. Remember that it’s your website. Let it reflect your personhood – something you sacrifice for nothing.

  8. says

    Hi Sumeet and Cas,
    I don’t necessarily think that my approving a comment implies that I approve a blog even if a link goes back to that blog. To think in reverse I would hate to think that others would hold that approval over my blog. Value my comments and leave it at that.

    Edit my comments. It’s your right to do so. Just leave a note that says “This comment edited for content.” of “This comment edited for fit.” The second in the case of one that is running WAY too long.
    If someone asks or complains, just answer with, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” and move on.

  9. says

    This is great – I have been looking for a tutorial like this for my blogs – I HATE that nofollow is automatically installed (I was under the false impression you actually had to activate until recently and was horrified to find that it was automatically on).

    I’ll be changing all of my blogs this weekend.

  10. says

    Hey Liz and Sumeet,

    Good of you guys to bring it up again. I wrote about it last November – Here – and basically my views are:

    “I do not like this approach (forcing upon us this No Follow rule). Why punish the good guys (those who comment in good faith) because of spammers … I believe that if you have given up your time and made a comment then you should get any of the benefits it might bring your blog … I’ll just have to work a little bit harder to weed out the garbage (aka spam comments).”

    Heck, most of the times the golds in the comments rather than the actual post – just ask Miz Liz, the Queen Bee of nurturing a community of commenters :-)

  11. says

    Hi Martin,
    I really like having you back at the bar again. Here are your nachos. Sorry I wasn’t around when you first got here. Had a meeting on the phone. But you know I’m always thinking of you.

    I’m sorry I’d didn’t pick up your article back in November, but I hardly knew you then. It might have been too forward. :)

  12. says

    I’ve been using the “DoFollow” plugin since beginning of September 2005, when I first learned of the rel=”no follow” embed. My personal attempts to stop comment spam, is to include a comment spam plugin blocker, and for the ones that slip by – I delete the comments. To me .. it doesn’t make sense why it’s there, and still there in wp 2.0

  13. says

    Hi HART,
    I don’t know why it’s still there either. Well, maybe I do. It’s been enlightening how many people have come forward to say that they had never heard of “no follow,” since this article. If you think of the universe of readers of this blog and the blogs that we read within the universe of blog owners, I imagine the number of people who still don’t know about it and who don’t know how to turn it off or don’t care to is still QUITE large. So in the end Google wins by default.

    Which I guess translates to WordPress, Blogger, and the others like Google better than us.

  14. says

    Hmm. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but your blog does have nofollow on all links in the comments section.

    searchStatus 1.15 extension for firefox is cool that way – I’ve got it set to highlight links with nofollow on them.

    So, you’ve decided that using nofollow was the way to go then? Too much comment spam otherwise?

  15. says

    Hi Advice Librarian,
    Thanks for bringing that up. NO, I’ve just moved this blog three times and missed fixing it when I got to this version. The problem is I’m php-challenged and a little leery of fixing it myself.

    In this case, it was more like no more, no remember.


  16. says

    I just sent an email to Sumeet Jain asking him to help me remedy the situation. I like the web to be a web. There’s no question in my mind about that. Spammers don’t scare me. :)

    Thanks Advice Librarian.

  17. says

    Hey, no problem :) I just thought I’d ask since it seemed like you’d changed your mind about the nofollow tag, and given that you talk about not using the nofollow tag in the post itself, I wondered if that meant you’d been forced to go back to using it to keep the comment spam under control. I use blogger for the site blog right now, on account of it being a sort of adjunct to the main focus of my site – and I use the blogger captha system for comments. Which I hope has nothing to do with why I haven’t received any comments on the blog itself – rather, it’s probably a function of having about a fifteen hundred articles on the main site for people to read. With that much material on the main site, people generally don’t reach the blog on account of getting stuck in the article section :)

  18. says

    Well, the email’s gone and a positive response has happened, so should have minor surgery on this young ‘un soon. Yours is an interesting problem.

    I’d love to use the question of how to get folks to explore your blog as a discussion question. I’d ave to know a little more information . . . but that seems like one that folks might have some ideas about.

    On the other hand, you might feel it’s more important that they stay at the front end and aren’t worried about the blog.


  19. says

    Mmm, actually, I think having a site blog that people visit and use to either ask me to find them something relevant that they’re missing in the front end or to comment on the articles I’ve published would be a Good Thing as far as site developement is concerned. There are options to comment on specific articles by either voting on how useful it was, or leaving a comment – but the blog would be good for metacomments on things like missing categories, (lack of) relevance of articles in a given topic, and general feedback on my editorial policies. (Oh god, you should see the stuff I’ve put in the big round file cabinet. Or maybe not, your brain will never, ever forgive your eyes for assaulting it with that drivel..) Sort of a “Letters to the Editor” section with immediate results – which is why I’m pondering moving to WordPress since it’s easier to have sections there (Musings from the Editorial Geek, Editorial Policies, Feedback from the readers, that sort of thing) – the blogger platform is handy for how the blog is right now with me more or less thinking out loud about the subject of writing in general, but I’m already seeing the limitations of the platform that will probably have me banging my head against the desk in frustration if/when I want to change things around in the future.

    Thing is, when contemplating that I’m also running headlong into issues with integrating WordPress into the main site script – which I’m very happy with at the moment since it does exactly what I need it to.

    It’s an interesting issue all around, even if it sometimes looks set to segue into the “ancient chinese curse” definition of interesting.

  20. says

    Hey AL,
    I hear you. I have a rather hefty blog on blogspot and though my issues aren’t nearly as “interesting” as yours, I do have lot of heart tied up there. I’ve come within inches of migrating it to WordPress twice now–It’s something that should do. The reasons are laid clearly in an article somewhere on this blog . . . .:)

    I still haven’t done it. Every moment that I wait the harder the choice gets.

    I would encourage you to go for it. Everyone I know who has made such a move has started with the same mixed feelings and ended with a feeling of relief and freedom.

  21. says

    Heh, maybe that could be a good topic for the immediate future – “how to ease the pain of platform migration, Blogger to WordPress”? More relevant for yourself than for me, I have a grand total of.. umm, 7 posts on the blog so far, most of which fall into the category of “general rambling” – so migration isn’t that hard with simple cut’n’paste. But a general technical solution for importing a blogger-platform blog into a wordpress blog is a subject I suspect a LOT of people will want advice on :)

    – side note: – Hmm – I’m a little thin on the ground on general blogging advice in the Library. Which is why I liked to you in the first place. –

    Perhaps your technical wizard has something to say on the subject when he gets here?

  22. says

    Perhaps your technical wizard has something to say on the subject when he gets here?

    I’m not clear what sort of technical advice you’re looking for. You’ve been to the New Blogger Page up in the sidebar–right?

  23. says

    Oh yes – I wasn’t thinking of myself since I can handle what needs to be migrated by just pasting the 7 entries leaving all the oldinto new posts in WordPress. I was more thinking of people like yourself who have years of Blogger archives that they’d want a plugin or script-based solution for migration to WordPress – letting the computer handle the whole thing rather than spending days on moving. It’s something I thought of because of Firedoglake’s recent move from Blogspot to their own domain ( to – they ended up dumping all the material on Blogspot into the “uncategorised” category making site navigation a bit of a mess and losing the old conversations through trackbacks and pings. It seems to me that a tool to make such migrations easier would come in handy for anyone contemplating moving a big blog -not my micro-sized one, but any seriously large blog could probably benefit.

    Thinking about it now, it strikes me that I can’t be the first one to think this, so such tools probably exist – I just don’t quite know how to find them. Which is why I suggested dragging Sumeet Jain into the situation – shame on me for being too lazy to scroll up and finding his name..

  24. says

    No worries.

    WordPress 2 in its latest iteration has made migration much easier. Andy Skelton who was the guru has basically now put the whole down to a 1,2,3 process on his blog. You hit on what was the scary issue, migrating the comments–but they seem to have covered that issue with the new WordPress.

    So now it’s all user fears.That is I’m chicken and I don’t want the hassle of having to fix all of my photo links that wil probably get broken and have to be relinked again–there are about 500 photos to move from Photobucket into WordPress and I don’t have the time. ‘

    I need folks like you to find me some paying freelance work to get my son through college. :)

  25. says

    Hmm, yes – that was rather painless. I’m now running on wordpress – thanks for the advice :)

    Wouldn’t the import feature also import your photobucket photos, by the way?

    And about freelance work – check out the “writer’s resources” section on the front page. I haven’t quite finished with it yet, I’m going to make a section on specific markets for freelancers, but there’s quite a few publishers listed there already. Some of those should get you started, I think :)

  26. says

    Hey AL,
    Great to hear that you got there so quickly and painlessly at that. WAY COOL. :)

    I’ll come check things out as soon as I get my deadline caught today.


  27. says

    Hi Scot,
    I’m not a technie and one of the reasons I’ve not done it after this most recent (days ago) upgrade that I’ve not done it yet, is that I don’t want to mess with code I don’t understand. So pleas feel free to leave a link to the plug in you’re using if you like it. 😉

  28. says

    I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to take off the nofollow and you have done it nearly 18 months ago.

    I love the blog Liz would love to be interviewed by you.

  29. says

    Hi Steven!
    Welcome. Thanks for the post you wrote about No Follow. It’s great to see someone who researched the history before deciding on the issue.

    Thank you too for your kind words. They mean a lot.

    You’re not a stranger anymore. Let’s talk. :)

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