Boy this is a tough one to swallow. I think WordPress is such a great open source project, a real treat as blogging software (hey I’m using it here! :lol:), and the community as a whole is very creative and wonderfully supportive.
But this newsflash is hard to take:
WordPress Website’s Search Engine Spam
The Problem. WordPress is a very popular open-source blogging software package, with a great official website maintained by Matt Mullenweg, its founding developer. I discovered last week that since early February, he’s been quietly hosting at least 120,000 168,000 articles on their website. These articles are designed specifically to game the Google Adwords program, written by a third-party about high-cost advertising keywords like asbestos, mesothelioma, insurance, debt consolidation, diabetes, and mortgages. (Update: Google is actively removing every article from their results, but here’s a saved copy of the first page of results. You can still view about 25,000 results on Yahoo. Or try this search tool, which searches multiple Google datacenters.)
I do think Matt made a *critical* error in judgement when taking on this revenue source and the methods he put in place to, errmm, host these pages.
A post from GoogleGuy:
There definitely appear to be hidden links on the root page of wordpress.org using CSS, e.g. “text-indent: -9000px; overflow: hidden”. That’s clearly against our quality guidelines at http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html#quality
What’s more, it looks like the company responsible for doing this (hotnacho.com) is also responsible for creating duplicate content in the form of posting the articles in multiple places, as you can see with this url: http://tinyurl.com/3omjj (these duplicate pages probably won’t last long).
Google’s guidelines are quite clear on things like hidden text and hidden links to duplicate content. People should have a skeptical reaction when someone comes trying to buy links to spammy/duplicate pages, esp. if they want control of a subdomain or a subdirectory on your own site–linking to content like that can trigger effects to a whole site’s reputation, as this person notes:
Part of the scandal involves Matt’s public stance on blog/search engine spam and implementing the nofollow tag in WordPress.
Huge damage was done here and I don’t think he’ll ever shake this one off.
Thanks to ThreadWatch for the heads up on this one.
ETA: Blog comment spam bots are hitting this post hard. Removing comment ability: 28/09/06