Recently a bunch of people (precompiled list, thanks Google) decided to make an attempt at reducing the significance of comment spam on websites.
The concept, in short, is that any feedback provided by the user with links in it, will have the rel=”nofollow” attribute in place. When the search engines index the page, they won’t count any links with rel=”nofollow” as an incoming link to that particular site; thus removing the reward for a spammer.
The reason I’m undecided about the outcome/reason behind this method, is that it will remove the reward for a genuine user to gain popularity through participation. The sake of example, lets consider someone who participates online all the time, is an active part of the community, however does not feature in other sites blogrolls. He gains popularity for his site through participation on other peoples sites. Now, with the rel=”nofollow” in place, he loses that popularity; thus reducing his position in search results.
In my opinion, it is the users problem to make sure their site isn’t spammed (think of it like mowing your lawn) and the search engines job to rank the content.
I think there are alternatives and I’ll write about them shortly.