That’s right, Google.
Comment spam is a problem for lots of people and there are (at least) two parties responsible for each piece of comment spam posted: the comment spammers and Google. Because of their positive image, very few people (with exceptions) look at Google when discussing comment spam. Plenty of people explain that comment spammers are trying to exploit PageRank, but no one complains that Google isn’t patching an obvious vulnerability. If this were Microsoft there would be three duplicate posts about this a day until it was fixed.
Why am I focusing on Google? Comment spammers are trying to get links to their sites in order to boost their PageRank. Google doesn’t offer a way to opt out of contributing to PageRank, they only offer a way to opt out of indexing all together with robots.txt.
What can they do to stop it? Offer a way for a link not to contribute to PageRank. Use VoteLinks or something like it and I will personally write the Movable Type filter that adds rel=”vote-abstain” to all links in comments.
One thing that VoteLinks doesn’t address is notifying comment spammers that their asshattery is ineffective before they submit comments. It would be nice if there were a way for comment spammers to check an attribute, like in a <div> around the comments field, that would say “no links in here will contribute to your PageRank.” Without that piece the comment spammers will continue their shotgun approach to reciprocal linking in hopes of finding still-vulnerable weblogs. I don’t imagine that those vulnerable weblogs will ever go away, but I’m just trying to avoid having to clean up after comment spammers on my own site.
So Google: Don’t be evil, clean up the mess you’ve created.