It appears that the guys at Google had a very bad idea.
They were on a streak, what with revolutionizing web search and coming up with that friendly and easily identifiable little logo and becoming so popular that they had to fight to try to keep their trademarked name from becoming a standard-English verb and all that. They did pretty well for themselves making billions of dollars and buying up major players in closely related industries. Their "foothold" in web search became a stairway and then an escalator, and now few people even know the names of the early search engines and Yahoo! threw up its hands last year and said, "Maybe we should do something else."
But for some reason, these guys who understand technology and algorithms and the value of a good, free lunch onsite and the need to encourage employee creativity have missed the boat on Blogger comments. In fact, I don't think they even know where the shore is.
I can think of a lot of possible reasons that the outbound linking process from comments on Blogger blogs has changed (without notice), but they're all guesses.
- It MIGHT be because Google, which uses backlinks as part of its algorithm for determining the value of a page, doesn't want to allow people the ability to create their own backlinks by commenting on blogs--even when the blogger has deleted the default "no follow" tag in the comment section.
- It MIGHT be to prevent non-Google-registered commenters from leaving URLs; this would encourage everyone to sign up for a Google account whether they needed on or not--a solution that won't be of much help to bloggers with multiple blogs, anyway.
I am sure of one thing, though. Someone has radically underestimated the importance of this functionality to bloggers and to those who leave comments on blogs. It's possible that the hope is that everyone will quickly sign up for a Google account so that they can leave comments with links in them, but it seems more likely that people will quickly move their blogs to other platforms where this issue doesn't exist...and that those who don't will see diminished traffic and a decline in comments.
They've also either overlooked or dismissed the fact that Blogger bloggers who do get visits from comments on other blogs will no longer be able to identify where they're coming from. Since they'll all be routed through the Blogger profile, all stats will show is a lot of referrals from the profile, not the actual source of the traffic.
I hope it doesn't turn out that we all have to abandon Blogger; I hope it mostly for selfish reasons, because I like Blogger a lot from a user perspective and would prefer not to move. But I'm not optimistic.
Of course, from what I've been hearing recently about disappearing blogs and comments, it may just be that after this post, I WILL find myself shopping for a new host...so watch this space. If I'm moving VOLUNTARILY, I'll let you know in advance.