If you’ve found my blog you likely know that I’m a huge proponent of removing nofollow from comments.

What’s this mean? Basically, it means by removing the nofollow attribute in comment links, Google and other search bots will follow links placed in comments – giving all commenters link love.

For me, removing nofollow was a no-brainer. I want to give link love to anyone and everyone for commenting on my site. I mean, why not? You take time out of your life to join the conversation around something I’ve written – it’s only right to want to give something back to you.

moneybucket.jpgJohn Chow apparently sees removing nofollow differently. It appears he’s not about giving back to his readers and commenters. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. He’s decided to charge a fee – $10 per month – to have nofollow removed from someone’s comments.

Now I’ve never been impressed with John’s money making decisions. But this one is way over the top, if you ask me. And certainly one that I cannot, in any way, condone.

While I don’t want to get into a battle with anyone on this point, I do want people to know about this tactic – especially new bloggers who could make the mistake of both trying what he’s trying and paying him for it. Because for me it goes against everything the blogosphere is about. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong for others. It’s just wrong for me.

I see the blogosphere as a place of open sharing and giving. I see a world where people like Darren Rowse and Brian Clark give as freely as they can and yet still make a good living. Read Copyblogger. Go back in Brian’s archives. Everything you could ever want to know about writing great copy is there – free of charge. And the same with Darren. Problogger is the most amazing resource for growing your blog.

Yet, they both monetize. They both have affiliate links. They both make money off their blogs. What they don’t do is sell themselves out for a buck. And that’s why I appreciate everything they put out and will continue to be a fan for a long time to come.

Now, I don’t personally know John Chow, nor Darren or Brian for that matter. So I can’t say without doubt that I know John’s motivations. But it doesn’t look good. And I just wonder that if he’s willing to take this rather low tact, what else questionable would he/is he doing to make all that money he writes about.

I’m not angry or upset with John. I am disappointed in him, though. I’m disappointed that he seems to stop at nothing to squeeze every little dollar out of his blog. It’s his decision, his conscience and ultimately between he and his readers.

I can tell you that I WILL NOT be billing any of you for removing nofollow from your comments. IT’S ALREADY DONE. SO ENJOY THE LINK LOVE.

So what are your thoughts? Should you do everything you can to make money with your blog? Or is there a line that you don’t want to cross?

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Brandon Wood says

    I’ve been reading John Chow’s blog for a while, and normally I find it fairly informative and insightful, but I have to agree with you that he has taken it too far.

    It seems that his objective is to see how much money he can make from his blog, even if it means selling out his readers.

    Now I’ve got no problem with someone trying to make money from their blog – most bloggers put countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears into making their blogs what they are, and deserve a little compensation for their efforts – but it shouldn’t be their soul focus.

    If the primary reason you blog is for the money, then you are doing it for all the wrong reasons. Your readers will eventually see through you and leave. If John Chow isn’t careful, he’s going to see many of his longtime readers begin to disappear.

  2. Adam Kayce : Monk At Work says

    Contrarian is one thing, jackass is another.

    (I can say that, right?)

    Again, I don’t know the guy. I’ve never been impressed with his blog. But this is like a beer company charging more for their product just because someone can recycle the bottle and get a dime’s deposit back.

    Can you imagine the bad press that would ensue from that?

    As much as we can argue principles, and support/defend the idea, I just wonder if there’s anyone out there (who’s been watching what’s happening in the world in the last few years) who actually thinks this is a great idea, aside from Chow himself.

  3. Douglas Karr says

    I left a note on John’s blog that had a similar take on it as your response. I’ve referenced John Chow’s blog a ton of times… perhaps I should send him a bill!

    🙂

  4. Dawud Miracle says

    Brandon,

    That’s been my impression too. And we’re not the only one’s who’ve noticed. Google John and you’ll find quite a few burning bridges. Sad. But maybe this is what he wants. Can’t say, I don’t know him personally.

    I want my blog to support the growth of my business as well (read: make money). But I will never do so at the expense of my integrity nor those who read and comment on my blog. It’s just not worth it to me.

  5. DaveOlson says

    Dawud… I’m with you on this one. The essence of the whole blogosphere is relationships and conversation as far as I can tell. Once you start charging for the relationship you enter the realm of prostitution. I think John may have crossed over on this one.

    On the other hand this may just be another of John’s frequent attempts at following the contrarian method. 🙂

  6. Bob Crain says

    Dawud,

    I agree with you 100%. The Blogsphere is about relationships not about squeezing the pennies until old Abe starts crying.

    Another think that no one here has mentioned is Now John is selling links and it seems clear from Matt Cutts and Google that Paid links need to be identified as paid or carry a no follow attribute.

  7. Financial Jungle Guy says

    For the life of me, I don’t know why JohnChow.com is so popular. The site isn’t that pretty, and it has way too many ads. I like Problogger, that’s why I subscribe to his RSS, not John’s.

  8. David Airey :: Graphic Design Edinburgh :: says

    Hi Dawud,

    You’re already a great friend of mine, and I can fully understand your take on the matter.

    Very valid points, all of them.

    As you’ve linked to me in your article I feel obliged let you know my true feelings on the matter.

    What drives me personally are positive thoughts and creating relationships with a smile on my face. If I have any negative ideas in my mind I prefer to overlook them and switch my attention back to the positive.

    That’s not to say I don’t openly speak out against the many injustices in the world. Far from it. Darfur, Burma, Iraq etc. – these are topics I speak out against.

    I have a great deal of respect for you and the other authors to whom you link above, please don’t get me wrong, but in my honest opinion, I feel it more appropriate to devote my time to more positive topics.

  9. WebStractions says

    I think we need to extend the NoFollow microformat …

    … rel=”nofollowchow”

    This whole thing is completely insane. And kind of sad too, because there are people actually falling into this. At least I believe there are. Either that, or they are complete suck-ups who just want to rub elbows with The John.

  10. Dawud Miracle says

    Dave, Ah Pek, Adam,

    I think you’re right…this seems like a jackass thing to do. Perhaps John’s intentions are different than what I think. Yet the press from this isn’t going to be good. Either way, no one really benefits.

    David,

    Thank you for you candid and honest response. I thought long and hard over an entire day before I wrote this post. I don’t wish to come across negative nor do I want to flame John Chow. He can do as he likes.

    Yet I do feel a responsibility on two other fronts. One, as someone strongly supporting and promoting nofollow. And two, as someone who spends a fair amount of his time educating people on how to best use the blogosphere to meet their goals.

    I simply don’t want people to get the wrong idea – from me or from John Chow. Most people are not as ‘savvy’ as he, nor self-promoting. Yet many people look to him for advice on how to best leverage their blog. I decided to write this post for those people because I can’t help but feel it’s a great mistake for almost anyone else to take this tact with comments.

    So ultimately, I don’t see the post I wrote above as being negative. I see it as offering a perspective for those who don’t know better when they see this type of behavior from a ‘well-known’ blogger.

    More than anything, though David, thank you for your concern and your honesty. I have always respected you and your views from the beginning of our relationship. And I will continue too.

  11. Dawud Miracle says

    Doug,

    Great to hear. I’d love to know his reply. And moreover if he changes his mind. And hey, why not, send him a bill.

    Bob,

    Yeah, I know. His tactics often walk a narrow moral line it seems. The only thing I know is that if you continue to do things that hurt others, you will find yourself alone. And it’s hard to make money on a blog that’s left alone.

    WebStractions,

    I hear you. Again, I don’t know John myself so I’m staying open to there being a positive out of this. I just don’t see it at all. Everyone pays – his commenters now and him later.

  12. David Airey :: Graphic Design Edinburgh :: says

    Dawud,

    Thanks for the email, and for explaining your thoughts in more depth.

    You know, I was actually going to send you an email had you not done so first, apologising if I sounded all ‘high and mighty’ with my above comments.

    Your point about directing new online authors away from charging for links is right on the mark. When I was typing the previous comment I was thinking how there’s a lot of publicity over this, and how does the saying go? Any publicity is good publicity? I’m not sure if I believe that sentiment or not, but it would make a good discussion.

    Again, thanks for delving futher into your thoughts.

  13. Dawud Miracle says

    Financial Jungle Guy,

    You might also like Darren more because he’s a different kind of person, with a different intent with his blog. Yet, he makes a nice living from it. He just does so while giving to people. And I think it’s the quality of what Darren gives that sets him apart.

    David,

    You didn’t sound ‘high and mighty’ at all to me. I agree with you about staying on the positive. More than anything I was touched that you sounded concerned about my approach to this topic. That just further shows me that even though we haven’t met, there’s definitely a level of friendship that’s developed by us blogging. As I’ve said many times, I’m blogging for the conversation and relationships (and business as well). It’s just great to know I have a friend across the pond.

  14. Opal: Vegan Momma says

    I didn’ know who John was until this month. I never thought about monetizing my blog until now. I read the post the day he put it up at first I thought it was very nice that he was recognizing his readers until I found out he was charging them. 🙁

    For some reason I didn’t think the dofollow worked the way he was implying. Then again I don’t know too much about it so perhaps it does? I still have a lot to learn. The charging for the dofollow really turned me off. I doubt that I’ll be back.

    I’m a business owner. I create & sell all natural beauty products and I also design & sell jewelry. I love selling but I truly enjoy passing on information for free. I don’t charge for all my services. In doing so I think my customers appreciate me even more.

    I love Problogger. I just discovered his blog few weeks ago. At the moment I’m a lurker but I’m learning so much.

    I’m happy I found your blog again. I remember your name was unusual but for the life of me I couldn’t remember it.

  15. Dawud Miracle says

    Opal,

    Sounds like our business models are similar. I don’t bill for every minute either. I’m much freer with my time.

    I’d suggest staying with Darren at Problogger. While I don’t know him personally, I do trust his integrity. And those I know who know him only say good things about him.

    Please know, too, that you’re welcome back any time.

  16. Chris Lodge says

    It will be interesting to see if Chow references this again, as apart from in his own comments, I’ve yet to see a positive take on this one. Given how much money the guy is worth (self-made, fair enough) his use of the ‘buy me a beer’ plugin makes me feel a bit queasy too.

    If I’d made a few bucks from one of his tips maybe, but buy you a beer for a post that just tells me how much you made this month? No thanks.

    Cheers for the link-up 🙂

  17. Vivienne Quek says

    In business, making money without building a solid relationship will not last long. Same applies in monetizing a blog. It’s OK to want to prfit monetarily from a blog, but what’s priceless is the online friendship and relationship developed. Knowing people like Dave Olson and David Airey is enriching and rewarding.

    This is my first visit here and I believe I would be a frequent visitor from now on.

  18. Dawud Miracle says

    Chris,

    I hear you. I have considered that my approach is quite literally 180 degrees the other direction of John’s. And that’s fine. I just don’t support it myself.

    Vivienne,

    Exactly. My own track record certainly is an example of how good conversation and mutually beneficial relationships can lead to solid business growth. The great thing is that under the model I speak of, everyone gets something back for their efforts. Not just me.

    And I do hope that I see you around more. If there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know.

  19. Robert Hruzek says

    Dawud, I’m with you on this one, but I wonder if the real motivation was to get the blogosphere talking about himself? That seems to be the end result!

    Is John preparing to sell the blog, and wants to up the ante by driving his Tech rank/authority up with a massive influx of links? Something even more subtle? Or is he just having a laugh at our expense? Who knows?

    When something like this comes along that sounds so totally outrageous and off-the-wall, then I have to wonder about the underlying motivation.

  20. Charity says

    I recently removed no follow from my blog. I would never think of charging people who were willing to contribute to the conversation and post a comment for allowing them to have a link back to their site. That’s ridiculous. Just because you CAN do it doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it. To me, charging for no follow to be removed from the link to your site in your comments is unethical. I’ve never really cared for John Chow’s site. Now I can definitely see why.

  21. Bucky says

    I have read John Chows blog for a couple of months now. What used to be an informative blog has now became a blog that is nothing but ReviewMe’s, product pushes, and lame ideas.

    Charging $10 for nofollow links is taking it to the extreme. I’m surprised he hasn’t started charging people for reading his blog….but who would pay to read a new reviewme everyday anyway?

    I found your blog with a link from Ordinary Folk and I will definitely be checking back in.

  22. Vivienne Quek says

    I was at the 4-day World Internet Summit (held in Singapore)and the challenge was to raise USD100,000 within 72 hours to feed 1 million hungry children. We broke the record at around 64-hour later. How did we do it? Relationship achieved through the cyberspace. If we take away cables and wires, the internet is all about people and relationship. With wealth comes greater responsibility. Sadly not everyone realise it.

    If you & your community would like to contribute to “Feed the Children” charity drive, please visit Help Feed a Hungry Child post.

  23. Angie says

    I removed NoFollow from all of my blogs and it did occur to me that there will be those who take advantage of the system, adding their comments to hundreds of blogs and not removing the NoFollow from their own blogs, for example. But come on, charging people to receive Followed links in their comments? I have heard John Chow’s name from one end of the blog community to the other and never has it been anything that particularly impressed me. This is, I agree, way over the top.

  24. Court says

    He does keep squeezing, that’s for sure. He’s going to make a lot of money, but we do need to consider the price…. Hmm I’m not sure what I think.

  25. Dawud Miracle says

    Bucky,

    I hear you. I wonder how he’s getting people to listen to him. Oh well. And thanks for keeping an eye on me.

    Vivienne,

    Yes, this is what I’ve been saying for years…the internet is about people connecting with people. It’s not about computers so much. Computers are just the medium, just as phones are a medium that people connect. Great point and thanks.

    Robert,

    Ooh, selling his blog…there’s something I hadn’t thought of. Maybe you’re right. I know that I’ve not given him very much link love since blogging. And you’ll notice there’s no direct links to his blog in this post.

    Charity,

    I agree. I can’t say John’s motivation. I just know that he doesn’t seem to care about his readers other than their pocket books.

    Angie,

    Yeah, I know. I don’t get it either. He’s either really smart of not so smart.

    Court,

    Let him squeeze. He’s not only squeezing people’s wallets, he’s also squeezing out supporters.

  26. Mihaela Lica says

    Should we really bother talking about John Chow and should we really give him the link love he needs in order to grow his financial empire? This is exactly what he wants, and he makes such decisions to trigger controversy and determine authority bloggers comment upon his decisions and link to his site.

    Dawud, you wonder how people listen to him: you already listened. You didn’t like what you heard, but you listened. And talked about him. You make him famous, although you gave no link back to his site… You help him, big time. What John Chow does is an extremely effective online PR technique. We could talk hours about this topic, but it will make no sense, because instead of stopping him, it will make him stronger.

  27. WebStractions says

    I agree with Mihaela. It is like Michael Moore’s 9/11 documentary slamming Bush, if it weren’t for the stink from the opponents of the movie, then nobody would have gone and seen it and he wouldn’t have had his pass to the Democratic Convention.

    Therefore, I suggest we move this conversation over to my blog. I neither have any real link love to transfer and nobody reads it anyway.

  28. Dawud Miracle says

    Mihaela,

    I actually agree with you on not promoting people like John Chow. As you can see, I’ve given no link love to him at all.

    The reason I chose to talk about this is because I know there is a huge number of people who will just follow along with whatever John says/does. Through this post, I’ve wanted to discourage people from following him on this one.

    So how do you offer a dissenting opinion without actually talking about the topic in the first place?

    Thank you for your comments and your suggestions. This post is now more than a week old. And while it will live on in cyberspace, I’ve moved on from it.

    WebStractions,

    Perhaps. I’m simply looking out for the good people who would be misguided by John to try something like this.

    And you’re welcome to the conversation…

  29. WebStractions says

    Dawud — judging by the number of unique responses that you have received from this post, then I think you have succeeded in getting your message across. We can hope that those individuals spread the word further to educate others. You did a good thing well.

    And I was only kidding about moving the conversation. The rest was pretty much true. 😉

  30. Dawud Miracle says

    WebStractions,

    Yeah, I’ve been surprised by the responses too. I think of my blog as a place for all of us to learn from each other. And there’s no better way to do that, I feel, than through conversations and relationships.

    No worries on kidding with me. I actually knew that. Just adding joining in the fun.

  31. Daniel McLean says

    Up until February this year 2007 JohnChow donated all profits from his blog to charity, I think he now spilts this with his childs trust fund. Google it! TTZ Media is his main money earner afaik.

    To me this is honourable and makes these comments slightly redundant.

  32. xBrain says

    Yeah – how JC did that? By removing the no follow isn’t?

    If I want to that in my blog – how suppose I do that? Is there any plug in for that?

  33. Tom Barr says

    I don’t quite understand how all of the blog systems are set to assume every comment is spam or should be no follow. Every comment should be monitored and if it is a valid comment the link should not be tagged as nofollow. We all understand what Google was trying to do with nofollow but it’s crazy how far it went beyond their intent. A decent comment is worth a link!

  34. Dawud Miracle says

    Daniel,
    It’s a nice thought. Yet, does that make his methods okay?

    xBrain,
    You’re going to have to contact Chow about that. I know the method, but disagree with it enough that I’d rather not share it publicly.

    Tom,
    It is, for certain. And I think the issue is a bit more complex. I get all kinds of comments – some I trust the commenters so I just let through automatically. Others I have to look at to see what their intentions are. This takes a fair amount of time. And I want to reward all commenters with a link love.

  35. Cath says

    i think following links is important as it shows readers and search engines that you have found a valuable resource that you want to show people. I would not follow everything mind. On my site, not just the blog i like to link out to valuable resources. There are some examples on http://www.heaven-spa.co.uk

  36. Sheila - Mode-2011.com says

    Thank you for this special message about this very special theme. I never was thinking about it like that. Please keep on sending articles like that. There are tons of blogs around. It is a hard job to find out which blogs are worth and which not. I have favourited your page to keep uptodate with your future messages. Bibi Sheila

Trackbacks

  1. […] What do you think of the idea of charging people ten bucks a month to remove the nofollow tag from their comments so they’ll receive a backlink? Pretty stingy, huh? What if a certain well known A-list blogger started doing it? Read What Dawud has to say about it. I completely agree with his stance. I’ve had the nofollow tag removed on this blog for a while now, thanks to Dawud. It will always remain so and remain free. If you’re new here, please consider subscribing to our RSS feed. […]

  2. […] Miracle Should I Begin Billing You for NoFollow Links? — Dawud re-affirms his stand on the controversial tag, and calls John Chow out on his greed. […]

  3. […] if you were a bit put out by Chow’s action, you are in good company!(1, 2, 3, 4 5, 6 and […]

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