rel=nofollow on talk pages?

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rel=nofollow on talk pages?

Neil Harris
I've noticed a number of attempts by editors to push links to their
websites into talk pages, where they are much less likely to be removed
or <nowiki>'d than links in articles. I understand the reason for not
having rel=nofollow in the article space; however, I can't see any
reason not to have rel=nofollow applied to links to sites outside
Wikipedia in talk pages, which would stop rewarding this behaviour.

The alternative of removing or <nowiki>ing these links, is both
time-consuming and counter-productive, as it prevents all links from
being followed, not just abusive ones, and putting all talk pages in
robots.txt would be even more counter-productive by preventing any
external indexing of talk pages.

-- Neil




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Re: rel=nofollow on talk pages?

Gregory Maxwell
On 2/18/06, Neil Harris <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I understand the reason for not
> having rel=nofollow in the article space;

You do? I'm glad someone does, because all I know about thus far
involves a misconception about *users* not being able to follow
nofollow links.

The fact of the matter is that english Wikpedia has been specifically
targeted by spammers due to our lack of nofollow and high popularity.
They continue this because it is high payoff even though most of the
links get removed. Worse yet, they have begun using more sneaky
tactics, such as mirroring free content (like the Linux documentation
project content) then adding these URLs to pages. Our users get
screwed because they follow the links only to find stale data on an
advertising (and sometimes malware) laden page.  Such sites are a fact
of life, but if we can decrease the payoff from spamming Wikipedia we
should.

Even when there isn't spamming, the lack of nofollow makes it all the
harder of our editors to assume good faith from people who just show
up to add externals... every bit of possible inappropriate motivation
which we can exclude from consideration should be excluded.

So rather than asking the developers to spend time on yet another
feature, why don't we take another pass at enabling nofollow site wide
again?  The code is already there for that, and enabled on most
Wikimedia sites other than english Wikipedia.
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Re: rel=nofollow on talk pages?

Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
On 2/19/06, Gregory Maxwell <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On 2/18/06, Neil Harris <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > I understand the reason for not
> > having rel=nofollow in the article space;
>
> You do? I'm glad someone does, because all I know about thus far
> involves a misconception about *users* not being able to follow
> nofollow links.

Where did you get that idea from? Did you read the discussion at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Nofollow/Vote ?

I'm against using it it because:

* Most of our pages are of high quality, and and as a result they
generally accumulate high quality links, I'd like those links to show
up more prominently in search engine results because it'll improve the
quality of the web in general. Nofollow harms that in a small way.
* It isn't actually accomplishing anything, or very little. Since we
turned it on on all wikis except the English Wikipedia it seems to me
that the latter hasn't received any less linkspam.
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Re: rel=nofollow on talk pages?

Gregory Maxwell
On 2/19/06, Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Where did you get that idea from? Did you read the discussion at
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Nofollow/Vote ?

Eh, several times in the last year I had the discussion in IRC with
several users. It was a frequent misunderstanding.

> I'm against using it it because:
>
> * Most of our pages are of high quality, and and as a result they
> generally accumulate high quality links, I'd like those links to show
> up more prominently in search engine results because it'll improve the
> quality of the web in general. Nofollow harms that in a small way.

Yes, in a small way. The obvious solution is for people to use
Wikipedia rather than search engines. :)  I'm not sure as sure as your
about the general quality of our links but in any case the goal is to
make a quality free encyclopedia, not improve search engines. ... And
leaving in a commercial incentive to crap on the encyclopedia doesn't
help our goals.

> * It isn't actually accomplishing anything, or very little. Since we
> turned it on on all wikis except the English Wikipedia it seems to me
> that the latter hasn't received any less linkspam.

Do you have any objective measurment of that. I know for a fact that
we've been targeted by at least one SEO group because of our lack of
nofollow.
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Re: rel=nofollow on talk pages?

Brion Vibber
In reply to this post by Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason wrote:
> * It isn't actually accomplishing anything, or very little. Since we
> turned it on on all wikis except the English Wikipedia it seems to me
> that the latter hasn't received any less linkspam.

The fact that *the* highest-profile MediaWiki site has nofollow disabled can't
possibly help in encouraging link spammers to notice it's there on the rest. :)

However discouraging it from happening in the long run is only part of what
nofollow does; the main part is just in keeping the crap that does get in from
polluting the search engines we all rely on. It's called being a good citizen.

-- brion vibber (brion @ pobox.com)


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