I didn’t want to write about this, since everybody has said pretty much all there is to say, but I have yet to find a post that says what I have just discovered about it. Anyway, I will repeat some of what has been said before I show what I found out.
1. I do not like that Possibly Related Links are linking to sites I don’t want to link to. Yes, it is nice to get hits from blogs I don’t know about, but more often than not the links from my posts are totally unrelated to my post, and vice versa for the hits I get from other blogs enabling this feature.
2. Luckily, I found engtech’s post on how to disable links to other places but at the same time keep links to my own posts, using CSS. Since I have the CSS upgrade, it looks like I could get the best of both worlds for this feature.
3. I suspect (but have no means of proof – I’m not that techno-savvy) that this feature is the source of an influx of spam I experienced recently. This post is linked to from this WordPress.com blog post through this feature. I received an influx of spam (in the region of hundreds in over a day), all in the same post, before I turn the comments off. Then, I updated this post to link to this blog where my post was featured. I received an influx of spam as well shortly after updating. These two blogs where I link / am linked to receive high traffic, and is quite possible that the reason for the influx of spam is due to the fact that both blogs have this feature enabled. This is just my hypothesis.
4. I found out that engtech’s solution
– works when you are logged in or out of your blog using Mozilla Firefox, but does not only hide links from other blogs but also links within your blog (previously, engtech provided another CSS code which works to include links within your blog but exclude links outside of your blog, but WordPress.com has override it and engtech used child selectors to overcome this, but it doesn’t seem to work now)
– does not work when you view your blog with Internet Explorer, whether logged in or out
I also found a link in my blog (with that feature) that does not seem to be under WordPress.com – is Wired.com under WordPress.com’s VIP hosting? In icanhascheezburger.com, you can clearly see that it is hosted by wp.com at the end of the front page; I don’t see this at wired.com.
Anyway, the implication of no. 4 is that it is almost like the Google ads controversy (that we are not allowed to put up ads for ourselves but wp.com puts up ads in selected blogs without the blogger knowing it, simply because it is not seen by users who are using Mozilla Firefox). We may be able to control the Possibly Related Links feature when using Mozilla Firefox, but not if we or our readers are using another browser.
I’ve been doing my own Related Links through good ol’-fashioned linking, and I find that that works best in the end, thank you very much! Turning off Possibly Related Links now…
ps. My research of this is not exhaustive, just what I have experienced thus far with my blog and reading from links I have provided here.