Google decision to yank comments from webmaster blog highlights user-generated content challenges

If Google can’t filter spammy content from one of its own blogs, what hope do brands have when it comes to policing user generate content?

On Friday, Google announced it was turning off comments on its Webmaster Central Blog, the site that provides news and updates for website owners and search marketers.

“Sometimes they were extremely thoughtful, other times they made us laugh out loud, but most of the time they were off-topic or even outright spammy,” wrote Google’s webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes about comments often received on the blog, “If you think about it, the latter is rather ironic, considering this is the Google Webmaster Blog.”

Why you should care

Google’s decision to remove comments on its Webmaster Central blog puts a spotlight on the broader challenges marketers face when trying to monitor user-generated content (UGC). Google’s inability to effectively filter and block spammy or abusive comments from its own blogs drives home the time and effort needed to deliver an effective and worthwhile user generate content strategy. If Google can’t do it, does anyone else really have a chance?

And blog owners aren’t the only ones vulnerable to bad actors in the comments section. Publishers aiming to monetize website content via Google’s AdSense program are also impacted by spam and abusive comments. According to Google AdSense rules, publishers must ensure content on their websites — including user generated content such as comments — does not violate Google’s hate speech policies. If Google finds any content in violation of its rules, it will remove ads from the page.

Google’s choice to remove all comments shows that whatever benefits could have been gained from an open dialogue with readers were not worth the time needed to police the content. Google’s call to disable comments is worth taking note of for any marketers looking to launch a blog — or content marketing strategy — that relies heavily on user generated content.

More on the news

  • The “nofollow link attribute” Google introduced in 2005 as a way to prevent comment spam did not sufficiently deter bad (or annoying) actors.
  • Per Google’s announcement, the webmaster team will now use help forums and its Twitter feed to interact with its community.
  • In 2015, Marketing Land and our sister site Search Engine Land disabled comments after our research showed they were not driving beneficial conversations.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media’s General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

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