Case Study: Google disabling external urls in comments

4 days ago I was told by Sara about Google disabling external website addresses [urls] in all comments. 2 days ago Cerebral Mum also sent an e-mail saying that the act of disabling external websites in all comments was not an example of “user appreciation.” I read more into the topic, and realized that I agree.

The situation: Google disabling comments

What Google through is doing is not allowing readers to leave their external website addresses in the comments they are leaving. . That means you can only leave a comment if you are either a Google/ user, or if you wish to be Anonymous with a nickname. As of this writing, is not allowing any field in the comments area to allow any commentor to enter their website url. A snapshot of the new comment page is included below.

What it means?

This means that if you want to leave a comment, you can either use your general name or nickname to identify yourself, or sign up for a account and log in through that account to leave a comment. This results in people having only a single fixed identity on, which is the account itself. Otherwise, your only other option is to use a nickname to identify yourself. With millions of people having similar names, there will be no way to identify where “Michael” leaving a comment about pastries is the same Michael that left a comment last week supporting the idea of eating food while driving or if it was the other Michael who left a comment on how to hide from squirrels. One of the most unique identification elements online, a website, will not be allowed to be used in identifying you anymore. You are either a user, an Anonymous person, or no one.

All of this also means that the things you were told and expected to expect are now changing, and you were not consulted in any manner when such a change was being decided. Because of this, the following 14 effects result in you not being appreciated by .

The 14 bad effects

  1. Users forced to create Google accounts

    Forcing readers to create new accounts is not a new trend. However, forcing readers to create new accounts to comment while allowing them to be anonymous when commenting is not a good thing. Why are people who have external websites and who are not users being differentiated? What does my comment have to do with having a account all of a sudden? Online commercial discrimination is here? Sure, we have hundreds of online services which do not allow readers to do anything unless they have accounts, but why force millions of people to sign up with anything else if all they want is to continue associating their comments with their names and urls?

  2. Non-Google users forced to suffer instantly due to the new changes

    Forcing current readers and bloggers to undergo this new change, when they have started trusting the service based on many core elements, is not a good way to treat readers. Causing sudden changes to a popular service that affects hundreds of thousands of commentors instantly is not a good thing. Is this change being made to benefit Google or is this a change that benefits the readers? A sudden change like this, without notifying the people who made the service popular in the first place, hurts such people and thus results in a lot of anti-appreciation trends in situations where appreciation helps and not appreciating hurts innocent people.

  3. Limits to communication from readers

    Not allowing external urls will automatically result in hundreds of thousands of people hesitating before leaving a comment. What if I am someone whose crazy parents named me Bob? There are millions of other copycat Bobs on the internet. Bob is an awesome name, though the copycatting is ruining its reputation. Me leaving a comment with a cool name like Bob will feel insecure as someone else may come along and leave another comment, as an Anonymous user with the nickname Bob, making everything think I am the same Bob. That extra element of separation, the external website address, is gone, and thus now all Bob, Rob, Michelle, Michael, and more will have to come up with a more unique name to make sure the other comments and bloggers know who they are, or simply stop commenting.

  4. Limits to interaction between readers and writers

    With fewer readers jumping on board to leave a comment, there are huge chances that commenting will slow down tremendously on many blogs. Heck, I am not wondering how to leave comments on a few blogs like my old friend Jerine’s. Interestingly I am the only one with my name, so she knows its me. She can also see the maturity level of my comments and realize I’m the only one who can leave such comments. Too bad not everyone is as fortunate as me, so everyone else will surely notice less interaction with their bloggers and with their readers. Good thing Jerine and I contact each other outside of most of the time.

  5. Limits to exposure for writers
    Pic of no external url field in comments
    Why do writers have to suffer losing many readers? They did not all ask for this change. Why not give them a chance like before and give them an option to disable or enable external website urls in comments? For no good reason to the writers at all, all writers will now have readers wondering “Damn! Should I sign up with to leave a comment, or should I just leave? Hmmmm, aaah screw it, I’m leaving.

    That is exactly what I think on many blogs when the requirement to sign up in order to comment makes me lost my interest in my own comment. What a good weird feeling that can be!

  6. Limits to treating urls as part of our identities

    Online, millions of people do not want to use their full name to identify themselves. They want to identify themselves with their url. Hey, I’m Bes from and . Ronald is Ronald from and, and Simonne is Simonne from and . Many people know us by our names, and many know us from our sites. These are our achievements, our hobbies, our passion, our part of life. We chose to use these as our identifications; no one put a gun to our head and said “You will use the url as part of your identity damn it, or so help me the Google God you will suffer as an anonymous commentor!” Why then should our universal birth right to identify ourselves through our website urls be taken away, resulting in millions of people who identify others through websites only to not care who all the anonymous commentors on are?

  7. Damaged the reputation of links, the way Google damaged the reputation of links through the No-Follow tag

    It seems Google wants to continue releasing weird trends and calling such trends as being beneficial for the readers. The NoFollow tag has done almost nothing to prevent spam and has instead hurt millions of non-spamming users; the NoFollow tag was supposed to give less importance to any and all links in comments, and in turn it hurt all regular commentors while spammers spammed on. The only one to benefit from NoFollow tag was Google as its search indexes had less processing to do by ignoring all NoFollow tagged urls. This new act of not allowing external links is simply another step in the same direction to give the concept of linking to your own site in comments a very bad name. I believe the NoFollow project was one of the stupidest initiatives in blogging history, and I think this new step by to disable external urls is stupid too.

    I was told by Cerebral Mum, one of the 2 people who told me about this change by Google/, that such a change could be because of Google implementing OpenID to allow universal logins between different services outside of Google also. OpenID is a way to create an account on one site and use the same account to log into many other sites. I personally do not care about OpenID; sure, OpenID can exist and flourish, but why do I have to suffer and sign up with yet another service in order to leave comments? It is extremely hard for me to open myself up on some levels, so please let me open up on my own instead of enclosing me in the so-called freedom initiative like the OpenID. If I want to sign up, I will. Otherwise, give me another choice. In fact, do not take away the choice I already had.

  8. Increase in the separation between readers and writers

    With less commenting opportunities, many readers will simply not bother reading content on profiles, and many writers will start focusing only on confirmed anonymous readers or people who have accounts. Everyone else will slowly become secondary to these people. Instead of bringing people together, people will have a new banner like “Only users allowed” or “I’ll read only content“, resulting in millions of innocent people who simply want to comment or write to suffer since they may have invested a lot of time on blogs or they may not know how to deal with such a change. I believe this can be the birth of a new extremist online religion: Gloggerism [Google + Blogger + ‘ism]. “You’re either with us, or against us! Die infidels!

  9. Increase in the separation between Blogger/Google and non-Blogger/Google users

    This is one of the most obvious effects that may happen in my view. Collaboration between bloggers and bloggers will reduce, as many bloggers will not want to Guest blog on, as they will know many of their current readers will have to go through the hassle of either being anonymous against their will or sign up for a account in order to comment. The first chapter of a completely online segregation not related to race is here, people. It is the dawn of Online Service Segregation. You are not a account holder? Don’t talk to me, and go sit at the far end of this online train you ignorant moron.

  10. Increase in stereotypes like “If you have something useful to say, you would not want to advertise your own site with it”

    Many times the funniest things are the advices that stupid people give others. I can feel a new trend emerging due to the disabling of external urls in comments. People will argue that if you have something useful to say, you will say it regardless of whether or not your site is advertised. It will become as if listing your url is a bad thing, and that you are honest only if you do not list your url. Such a stupid mentality can go down in history as one of Google’s contribution to our society.

    Maybe the next step will be to call anyone using their real name or nickname to identify themselves as being stupid. The only real comment would be by users or people with the actual nickname of “Anonymous.” That may help humanity evolve into the next phase of humans, as we will all have to develop the ability to see a comment and figure out, based on the maturity level and the choice of words, who the commentor is. I am sure the identification of the maturity level will let everyone know which comments belong to me, as I already pointed before.

  11. Increase in bad changes for the users under the umbrella of concepts like the Open ID [Open ID is not a solution]

    Using OpenID doesn’t do crap to bring more people together and to give people more choices. The same people who cried “Wolf wolf! I don’t want to use a single login for everything as it is unsafe!” when Microsoft tried promoting the Microsoft Passport initiative, which was the exact same thing and even better, are now supporting OpenID since it is Open Source. Some people will even marry someone they hate and despise if their name contains the words “Open Source.” Can’t get married? Change your name to “Mary Open Source Anne” or “Jack Open Source Myers“, and you will surely find someone who wants to date or marry you from the Open Source Fanatics community. The people who realize and respect both the Open Source and OpenID benefits and downsides will laugh at you, by the way.

  12. Increase in separation between self-hosted and externally-hosted blogs

    This one is a bit similar to the separation between and users. People will start assuming that self-hosted blogs like those on the platform have inferior comments compared to self-hosted blogs, and thus slowly many people will start considering any externally-hosted blog service like, and to be bad along the same manner. Why would this happen? Google has a commanding hold over many blogging elements and communities, and anything Google passes on in the name of “Open Source” or readers will be considered something that is normal on a grander level. In reality, the readers suffer while people keep assuming things.

  13. Increase in similar tactics by other giant companies, where companies make changes and automatically assume that the number of people not liking such changes will fade away over time. The bigger the company, the more changes it can make on different levels and not be answerable for.

    If does not answer such speculations and does not explain itself as to why it thought such a change was good, why it thought using OpenID and restricting all non-Blogger and non-OpenID external website holders from commenting was a good thing, why it did not ask both bloggers and users before making such a change, other big companies will do the same thing. This is a classic example of big companies making changes and hoping that majority of their customers will stick around. “Customers, you say?” I can hear you ask. Yes, customers; every is paying Google for the service. More on it in the 14th point below.

    Thus, because of Google similar big companies will keep making changes and hoping that the customers being affected are small in number or that the customers being hurt do not cry out too loud, since such big companies can easily get new customers to replace those who cry like babies. Do you cry like a baby? I know I do, and I do it so well too! Companies do not like customers who can pinpoint change and make a stand and come up with solutions. Do not cry, do not complain, do not offer solutions, do not try to fix things. Be a typical stupid robot and take it or leave it.

  14. Birth of a new restriction to all bloggers who now have to accept such a change or move elsewhere, and lose money either way

    This can be greatest and most important point in my view. I list as the last point so that you can know all the other downsides before this big one. Every user and reader is a paying customer to Google. “What the heck are you talking about?” you ask me. Every time you visit a page, the traffic level for Google properties and goes up. Every time you see an ad on, you are exposing yourself to that ad and spending time on that page. You get paid at work to spend time doing something for the company. You do not spend money at work to get the same exact amount of money back, do you? You would be stupid if you do. If RaProject had ads, which it does not, you would basically be our customer as we would be showing you our ads and content and in return you would be viewing our pages to give us traffic rank, viewing our ads to give our advertisors exposure for which they pay us, and leaving us comments creating more advertisement of our site to other potential customers. Get it?

    From today onwards, remember what I said and never let anyone tell you that anything online is free. That is one of the greatest and stupidest mentalities and myths that many commercial entities and individuals want you to believe, that using a service you do not pay cash for is a free service. “Hey, it’s free, stop complaining!“, if you hear that, you can say “Hey, you’re stupid, stop talking! is NOT a free service, so why are bloggers being forced to go through a change without their prior approval? Each and every blogger has already paid by watching their ads and bringing more customers and readers. For this very article, the 14th point is that since you are paying , such a change without your approval is not a way to respect you. The entire internet mentality about free services and online agreements has to change; that is a topic for next time, my dear extremists, or my dear infidels.

As of this writing, those are the 14 big elements I can think of that will immediately affect me on many levels, and these are the 14 elements that will affect almost everyone who comes across .

The results are not good – is not appreciating commentors

The above 14 points show you how Google is not appreciating commentors who want to use external website addresses as their comment identities.

From creating Google accounts to suffering because of being a Non-Google user, to limiting communication to limiting interaction, to limiting exposure to damaging our url identities, to another Google-create myth about links to separations between readers and writers, to separating and users to creating stereotypes about people who like linking their urls in their comments, to using concepts like Open Source or OpenID to limit reader choice online to creating more barriers between self-hosted and externally hosted blogs, to increase in bullying and ignoring of many customers by huge corporations to losing money and time and not getting what you pay for, the new change by Google to ban the use of external urls in comments offers only one supposed-benefit as a contrast: OpenID. All OpenID does is to allow you to save you the time in remembering your usernames and passwords. Would you accept all of the above new 14 elements simply to get OpenID as the sole ending benefit? I would not, and I am not.

Google and have showed their clear intent to not appreciate many commentors by disabling external urls in comments.

As time passes, I will update this list with more points if I notice anything. If you can think of more points, please let me know. Thank you.

Thank you, Sara and Cerebral Mum, for bringing this topic to my attention. To everyone: What are your thoughts about this?

About William

William lives in Oakley, California and is an avid tech enthusiast. When he's not writing about online social networking and businesses, he is busy reviewing how social media affects us all.

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