We’ve been working hard to remove the ability for spambots to penetrate your Ning Network with bogus accounts. Beginning today, we have two new weapons in our arsenal: No Follow and Soft Blocking. These new approaches should make Ning even more safe and secure for your members.
Spambots attempt to create as many fake accounts as possible, which then attempt to post as much content as possible. Any content that is posted by a spambot will, of course, contain a link to some Web site somewhere. The more links a spammer can build up, the higher up in search those spammy links travel in Google search — until they are ultimately near the top of Google’s search results, competing side-by-side with legitimate businesses.
One way to take away this incentive for spammers is to add a special tag which tells Google to ignore such links when compiling their search results. This is the “nofollow” tag. With No Follow, links work fine. Click on them and you’ll still go to the same place, but those clicks won’t be calculated in Google’s search results. This thwarts one of the major reasons behind a coordinated spam attack. It can be very effective.
How will this affect your Ning Network? The No Follow tag will be added to all links posted by members on blogs (including comments), forum posts (including comments), and profile comments. There are a few key exceptions:
• Links from NCs and admins won’t get the No Follow tag. Obviously, there’s no danger of you posting spam on your own Ning Network, so the No Follow tag won’t be added to any of your links.
• Links on the Main Page won’t get the No Follow tag. We want to ensure your Main Page loads quickly for your members and avoid performing any additional analysis that could affect your Main Page’s performance.
One of the unfortunate side effects of beating spam is that occasionally the rules that are created to catch spammers can catch a legitimate member. We’ve had reports of this, and we take it very seriously. We’re doing our best to ensure members aren’t blocked from using Ning even if their account is flagged in error. To help combat it, we’ve instituted soft blocking.
In the past, when suspicious accounts have been blocked for an excessive rate of posting, the account has been prevented from signing in to Ning. Now, when an account is blocked for excessive posting, that account will be prevented from adding comments, updates, blog posts, forum posts, and photos and videos — content. However, navigation and browsing won’t be affected, just the ability to post content. After a set amount of time, a soft-blocked account will be allowed to post again. Most important: Anyone who experiences a soft block will receive a clear error message, along with information on how to proceed.
Of course, if you ever have problems signing in or participating on your Ning Network for any reason, we encourage you to open a Help Center ticket, and our advocacy team will investigate the details.