January 21, 2007

"nofollow" attribute put on main Wikipedia pages

"nofollow" is a link attribute which tells a search engine that it should not follow the link, i.e., the link will not get PageRank or any other benefit from being on the page. It's primarily intended to stop link-spammers from taking advantage of comments or open forums. However, it has other uses, such as PageRank "hoarding", a kind of no-PageRank-for-you! statement.

There's been a longstanding debate as to whether Wikipedia should add "nofollow" to non-Wikipedia links. Pro: Wikipedia is tremendous spam-bait. Con: Good sites deserve the search benefit from one of the most popular sites on the net.

The previous community decision was:

As of May 22, 2006, following this discussion, rel="nofollow" is now enabled on non-article pages (i.e. pages outside the main namespace) on the English Wikipedia, but remains disabled for links in articles. Brion has said that it is his "intention to enable nofollow everywhere in the long run (though this might end up being in more limited form, for instance allowing some whitelisting or other verification process)."

That earlier decision has now been overridden by "Jimbomancy"

Having been requested by Jimmy to do so, and having seen a fun rumor of a "search engine optimization world championship" contest targeting [Wikipedia], I've gone ahead and switched rel="nofollow" back onto URLs in en.wikipedia.org's article namespace.

Note one implication to draw from this:


Let me be clear - in many cases, I think Jimmy Wales' decisions are right, and in fact a necessarily corrective to the impulses of crowds. But they sure are top-down CEO-type actions. The propaganda of Wikipedia should be proven transparently false every time one of these events happens. Wikipedia's social organization should be familiar to anyone who has seen a bureaucracy where the low-level administrators aren't accountable much to anyone else, and the bulk of the work is done by volunteers. Getting this often-dysfunctional setup to work is an achievement, no doubt about that. But it's very limited in terms of how well it scales and how much it's a model.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on January 21, 2007 01:00 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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I find it sad that the project doesn't feel that its current volunteer base and tools are sufficient to deal with link spam as it happens.

Posted by: Jamey Wood at January 22, 2007 12:15 PM

I can't help but think that this is a huge step towards completely ruining the spirit of the project. It seems to go against what social media is all about, 2 way communications. On the net that road isn't always travelled in words but in links and trackbacks and relevancy. Hording indeed.

Posted by: smoMashup at January 23, 2007 10:20 AM