At some point in the last 24 hours, Blogger changed their blog comment forms, and the the new layout does not allow links to blogs outside the Blogger/Google account system. Not sure what I mean? Check this out-
Previously, instead of a ‘nickname’ option, there was a place to click ‘other’, which then opened a field to put in your name and URL. When you click on the nickname option, the only thing you can put in is a name. While you could put in your mysite.com name as your nickname, it will not be a link as it was previously, and it cannot be used to go directly to your site.
So now the question remains, was this done as some sort of an anti-spam measure, or is this Google’s way of striking a blow against other blogging platforms like WordPress and Typepad? I cannot find any announcements or even any mention of it anywhere at the moment. I would think if this were a huge step in fighting blog spam, Google would have at least thrown a line or two up on their blog about it. If this was strictly about that I’d say they were throwing the baby out with the bathwater. On the other hand, this move forces people to either not leave links at all, or register a blogger/google account, and put a link to their outside blog in that profile, the option I suspect most users will take. Better an indirect link than no link at all, right?
So why should we care? Blogging is a very give and take relationship. Without commenters, bloggers have no feedback. Those who comment get the exposure for their own site from the writer’s existing audience, and if the blogger is like me and is part of the DoFollow movement, commenters also get a little shared Google juice where pagerank is concerned. NoFollow is automatically inserted in Blogger’s code, but there are ways to turn that off. (Could that also be another motivating factor in their decision?) By disallowing comment URLs, the relationship between the two parties is interrupted, and I’d bet there will be considerably less commenting on Blogger blogs by those on other platforms, myself included.
What to do about it? Well, you could try moving to WordPress, WordPress.com, Typepad, or one of the many other blogging platforms out there. WordPress is obviously my favorite, but I realize not everyone wants to migrate after spending a year plus building their site. Haloscan is an add-on that Blogger users can use to restore the Blogger comment form back to allowing outside links. It replaces the current comment form to one very similar to WordPress or Typepad, with the usual name and URL fields along with a comment space. In addition it also gives Blogger users the ability to accept trackbacks, a feature not currently open to those users.
Whatever you decide to do, be sure to shoot Blogger an email and let them know what you think of this change. Maybe if they get enough complaints they will fix it.
*snort* Ok, a girl can dream.