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Wikipedia Adds Nofollow To Outbound Links


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#1 jdevalk

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 06:01 PM

Wikipedia has added nofollow on their outbound links just a few hours ago, after a surge of new spam due to another SEO contest...

#2 JohnMu

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 06:25 PM

SEO contests suck.

They make things worse for all of us, as if there weren't enough real sites with search engine issues on them to solve.... No, it's better to be #93 in some contest than to help some small-time webmaster get his family-run shop back into Google. Sigh. :(

John

PS Welcome to the forums, jdevalk! I hope you weren't waiting for the nofollow to delurk :). What else drives you?

#3 jdevalk

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 06:26 PM

agreed, i hate these contests too... They cause all sorts of havoc.

Hehe and thx for the welcome :) I'm an SEO, read a lot of seo blogs all day, and a bit active on DP forums, but these seemed nicer :(

#4 yannis

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 06:43 PM

The no-follow should not really worry anyone with links in Wikipedia. The real value of these links is that they provide traffic to your pages.

Yannis

#5 JohnMu

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 06:55 PM

I tend to agree with Yannis, it's about traffic :) ... (but SEOs like good links anyway :() ... and most of the Wikipedia links that I've been following seem to be extremely lacking with regards to value (for Google) when compared to links from other sites. I don't know if Google is treating them differently or if they are on some "user generated content - spam warning" list (or most likely algorithm), but that's what it feels like to me.

That said, I did have one site that was doing very well in Google, mostly thanks to a few good links from the Wikipedia (as far as I could tell) -- someone cleaned up the categories and almost all value attached to the site seems to have dried up (the site is non-profit, doesn't sell anything, not even ads, but I feel kind of stupid putting the links back in myself ... even though they were removed as "spam").

The Wikipedia is a strange beast when it comes to SEO :D

John

#6 Nadir

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 10:29 PM

Wikipedia is part of all these large websites that are killing the web.

With so many links and no outbound links, they'll just be seen a giant hub in Google's eyes and rank first for any query, which causes smaller websites or other relevant resources to remain unknown by the average surfer.

#7 Wit

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 05:46 AM

I think Wikipedia is a special case, and has been for some time. I'm not convinced that a link from them was counting for as much as you would expect anyway -- link-juice-wise that is. For some reason, I tend to believe that Google likes WikiP pages them a lot for the content, not for the (outbound) links.
For that reason, I don't expect the nofollow to influence things gravely.... For the same reason, I haven't even TRIED to get links from them since a year ago. Not even for traffic (which is useless in the niches I serve).





----edit: added word that got lost

Edited by Wit, 21 January 2007 - 05:47 AM.


#8 bwelford

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 08:41 AM

I think this is an excellent move on Wikipedia's part. If you're motivated to edit an entry and you get some traffic by the excellence of what you wrote, well so be it. It certainly works for me.

In a sense, Wikipedia is correcting the fallacy in the whole Google PageRank approach. It's like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. There are some things you can't measure. If you try to measure them then they're not the same. Once Google says inlinks will boost a web page's relevancy, then of course everyone, often supercharged with dumb computer programs, generates as many inlinks as they can.

If Google had been smart they would have kept PageRank as a corporate secret like the KFC or Coca Cola secret recipes. It's a great principle provided you don't tell anyone about it. So they should have gone public with the BrinBoost, naming it after the other founder. The BrinBoost would be a measure of the value of the outbound links or outlinks you put on a webpage. If everyone thought that the BrinBoost was the key factor they would be motivated to improve the quality of what they write.

You could even have a BrinBoost 'thermometer' with BBs from 0 to 9. They could then have devoted say 5% of their staff to supporting the BrinBoost approach.

They wouldn't abandon the PageRank thinking of course but it would be buried within those 100 factors they use for assessing relevance. This secret would be known to only a few high priests within the Googleplex. So they'd have the best of both worlds. They in fact would have improved relevancy since people would not be trying to create all those irrelevant inlinks. The PageRank approach would work even better. Who knows Yahoo! and MSN/Live might even have been unaware of the Google secret weapon.

Ah well, it's too late now and we've all got to suffer. :wacko:

#9 EGOL

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 09:31 AM

I really like that thinking, Barry.

Imagine how much effort has been devoted to generating links.... it would probably pay off the US National Debt.

#10 yannis

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 09:41 AM

I think this is an excellent move on Wikipedia's part. If you're motivated to edit an entry and you get some traffic by the excellence of what you wrote, well so be it. It certainly works for me.


It also works for me. The Wikipedia is perhaps one of the few resources that belongs to everyone irrespective who you are or where you live. Wikipedia has grown to the point where a normal web user should begin his search queries from there, rather than the search engines. Try it! you will be amazed. At present I consider the quality of the information on Wikipedia better than any printed encyclopaedia.

Abuse takes various forms. Some try to promote their own websites (either for pagerank or traffic) and others are zealots promoting their own political views and then there are the graffiti artists. The first two are the easier to handle and it does not need the 'no-follow' ban to achieve it. If you visited a link from the Wikipedia and found an adsense site you will be tempted to go back and remove it. The second is more difficult to control - like most religious or political ideas. However there is always a counter-camp that keeps checking these pages. In most cases a balance is achieved and the ideas of both camps are well represented. The graffiti artists are more difficult to control as they will just deface a page and run.


Yannis

#11 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 11:28 AM

I can't honestly say that I mind the fact that Wikipedia has gone nofollow - I just wonder whether it'll make a difference. After all, WordPress went nofollow but I still get thousands of comments and trackback spam. Fact is, as long as only Google claims to actually not follow "nofollow," these kinds of spam drivebys will continue to be considered valuable. Maybe not as good as they used to be, but people will still do it.

It's kind of like putting your thumb in the dike...but with a hole the size of a basketball.

#12 DianeV

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 02:03 PM

That's true. Same here, and I've always had to completely moderate comments on my blogs.

BUT using Akismet has meant that nearly *all* the spam comments (out of 2600+ in the last three weeks) have been quarantined.

There's also the Bad Behavior plugin, which apparently determines whether incoming comments fit a pre-determined set of spam comment parameters. If I need to, I'll use that one, too, but so far, it hasn't been needed.

Edited by DianeV, 21 January 2007 - 02:06 PM.


#13 bragadocchio

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 03:13 PM

If Google had been smart they would have kept PageRank as a corporate secret like the KFC or Coca Cola secret recipes. It's a great principle provided you don't tell anyone about it.


But they couldn't, since PageRank doesn't belong to them, but rather to Stanford University. It's also possible that the PageRank technology was part of what made them popular. When we think of some trade secrets, like the KFC and Coca Cola recipes, there are things about those that are known - afterall, they are recipes. The exact ingrediants of PageRank can only be guessed at, and there are elements that we don't know anything about.

For instance, how does the algorithm treat dangling nodes? That is, pages that don't have any links pointing out from them, such as a PDF file, or a txt page?

How do the ranking algorithms used presently by Google treat sites that don't have any links pointing outside of their own pages? Or that use some prophylactic measure like nofollow on all of their links? If a majority of sites started using nofollow on all of their external links, following the leadership of the Wikipedia, would it have an affect on how sites are ranked?

There are many other ways that a search engine could measure the value of links from a site like wikipedia than just a pagerank value. For instance, entries in wikipedia all have explicit timestamps associated with them - easy to find and measure (see: Temporal Analysis of the Wikigraph for an interesting analysis of the temporal aspects of the site).

What we don't know, though I've seen some discussion of it, is whether a newly discovered link has as much value as one that has been around for months, or for years? The historical data patent application from Google a couple of years back seemed to consider the age of links as an aspect that could affect scoring of pages - though whether or not that is done is part of the secret recipe. We just don't know.

Should Wikipedia use nofollow on all external links? The reason cited is that they want to reduce vandalism. Perhaps they should note that all links are nofollowed clearly on all pages that can be edited if they want to meet that intent. I suspect that even if they did that, the amounts of vandalism to wikipedia wouldn't be reduced in any meaningful way. It appears that the cost of vandalizing wikipedia is very small, and even the rewards of a few visitors to links may be considered valuable.

#14 projectphp

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 06:54 PM

Exellent! I don't like nofollow for multiple reasons, but this does seem like an appropriate usage. "We can't trust these links" is true, because they can be added or changed at any time, so it is a valid(ish) usage (not that I think it is a good idea... but that is another story <_< )

#15 Mano70

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 07:04 PM

Just for your info, the Cre8asite forum is mentioned here:
en.wikipedia.org//wiki/Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard
Off Topic offtopic
I wonder what kind of people that are wasting time on a lame SEO contest. From what I can see there can't be much to learn from this - non competitive keywords starting from scratch on brand new domains.


Edit: Not a live link anymore since the redirect messes with the url.

Edited by Mano70, 21 January 2007 - 07:38 PM.


#16 AbleReach

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 07:25 PM

Just for your info, the Cre8asite forum is mentioned here:
http://en.wikipedia...._spam_onslaught.

Not any more!

Wikipedia does not have a project page with this exact name.


We are listed under references here, for the SEMkit review: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Thies

And under external links here, for the comprehensive robots.txt tutorial:
http://en.wikipedia....lusion_Standard

Edited by AbleReach, 21 January 2007 - 07:31 PM.


#17 Mano70

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 07:35 PM

Cre8asites redirect messed up the link, copy paste the link below and scroll down to For yoru entertainment:
en.wikipedia.org//wiki/Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard

#18 Halfdeck

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 06:44 AM

In a post Matt Cutts published an hour ago, he says:

I donít expect this change to affect Googleís rankings very much, but itís good to see the Wikipedia folks paying close attention to link spam (and open to refining their trust for external links).


To me, his statement implies that, like many already suspected, those Wikipedia links were not passing much link juice to begin with.

#19 JohnMu

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 06:54 AM

This is going to be the year of the nofollow -- link blocks all around :)

Google added it to its own Google Groups (which are close to uncrawlable) and has even added a redirector script for profile links in the Google Groups.

When all links are nofollowed, we will be back where we started, :rofl:

Spinning your (and Matts) comment a bit further, Halfdeck... Google will not treat the wikipedia special, that's too much work (and requires manually editing value tables, bah! Manual labor is for the other engines). They will use algorithms to recognize sites like that and perhaps treat the links in them differently. How can you recognize a wikipedia-like site? If the links are being treated differently, perhaps they still have the same value even when nofollowed?

John

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 07:05 AM

Danny Sullivan suggested in yesterdays daily search cast that if we ever link to wikipedia, we should use the nofollow. :)

#21 eKstreme

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 07:41 AM

Danny Sullivan suggested in yesterdays daily search cast that if we ever link to wikipedia, we should use the nofollow. :)

I agree 100%. Maybe someone can make a Wordpress plugin to do it automatically... call it NoWiki :)

Pierre

#22 CTABUK

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 10:33 AM

I don't post here very often - maybe I should - I used a Rustybrick item recently with great effect - very good writer. I too am pleased that Wiki has done this - it was always open to abuse. I agree totally that each and every page should have a 'Search Engines Cannot Follow' sig. That would indeed detract a great deal of spammers. And yes I also agree that if you are already linked (as indeed I am too) for your keywords then traffic will arrive. Ironically on my search terms Google .co.uk never showed Wiki results, whereas the .com always did.

#23 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 11:54 AM

Danny Sullivan suggested in yesterdays daily search cast that if we ever link to wikipedia, we should use the nofollow.


And, with all due respect to Danny, that sounds like a horrible idea. Wikipedia continues to be a great resource with vast amounts of useful information - I would only nofollow a link to it for a reason: because I couldn't trust that link. They are applying nofollow to their outbound links for that very reason.

Now, I also have to say that if they feel their editors can't keep up with invalid outbound links I'm unsure why they'd think they can keep up with invalid information, either...

#24 JohnMu

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 01:40 PM

One comment I found elsewhere seemed to strike a key with me ... 12 million pages indexed and none of them have a single link on them that they can trust? I don't know about you, but if you have 12 million pages indexed and you can't trust the contributors to leave clean links, why should you trust them to provide clean content?

That's kind of strange... it would be like Google putting up malware warnings for all sites in the index, because they might possibly have malware on them somewhere (or link to a site that links to a site that links to a site that has malware on it).

I know that it's a problem of trust, but if you can't trust your contributors to leave clean links, then I don't know why you should trust them to leave clean content? It will get gamed no matter what. I don't want to know what kind of graffiti the next presidential elections will leave all over the web, including on wikipedia articles (not just in the form of links). That's life -- if you allow interaction, you will have to live and deal with people abusing it....

That said, I don't know how to handle it all either. Saying that all links are to be untrusted seems overboard for the long run... but maybe it is the right thing at this moment in time.

---

One thing that bothers me with the whole nofollow-scene is that it is made only for search engines. Why do the browsers not highlight nofollowed links by default - highlight them in yellow and add a blinking yellow yield sign? It seems to me that if a link cannot be trusted for search engines, it should certainly be shown as untrusted for the visitors as well. I know there are tricks to do that (with Firefox), but only a freak will install it -- I'm talking about the general public. They have a right to know that a link on a site is *not trusted - proceed with caution*.

Imagine if the Wikipedia highlighted links like that - would an article with 10 blinking, untrusted links appeal to you?

John

#25 projectphp

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 07:44 PM

One comment I found elsewhere seemed to strike a key with me ... 12 million pages indexed and none of them have a single link on them that they can trust?

That sounds frightenningly like SEs are the reason we should do things, and the trust of SEs matters. I disagree with that idea strongly in this case. IMHO, what wikipedia are saying is not we don't trust these links, but people who want links for SEO reasons ^$^%$ off! And more power to them.

A lot of comments assume that wikipedia is interested in SEO, or even cares about SEs fullstop. Why? Why does a free, not for profit site with zero revenue generating items want to get more traffic? Why do they give a stuff about Google, Yahoo, MSN et al? They don't, and quite frankly shouldn't, and the move was made to help their resource, not Google's or Yahoo's. I mean, really, if we nofollow links to wikipedia, does snyone think they will care? Does anyone think anyone at wikipedia has ever looked at their sarch terms and stats? I would be curious to know if anyone did!

IMHO, there is no better online resource for looking a few small things up than wikipedia. There really isn't. If I want a "back of a cigarette packet" over view of sunnis vs shiites, I turn to wikipedia. It won't make me an expert, but it will help me get a small window I can then either pursue, or move on with my life. That is wikipedia's role on the internet.

What any of that has got to do with SEO or SEs is something to ponder. Sure, it is great if the content can be found via SEs. But if Google et al use algorithms that downgrade wikipedia, I wonder who then loses.

I personally hate nofollow, because, as a programmer, the idea of code with no certain output is something I was taught to avoid, and nofollow has no known output. However, for a site that has zero interest ion SEo, which I believe wikipedia is pretty darn close to, it makes sense to remove a carrot from people whose goals clash with their own.

My $0.02.

#26 Wit

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 08:13 PM

Ummm, if they didn't care about SEO, they wouldn't b***h about it that much. Lots of comments by admins there are really based on 2002-style SEO.

If they REALLY didn't care, they wouldn't bother with the nofollow either. The attribute will NOT kill or even reduce wiki spamming, but it will only have an effect (if any) on how Wikipedia does on the serps.

#27 projectphp

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 08:53 PM

If they REALLY didn't care, they wouldn't bother with the nofollow

You are confusing caring with utilising, wit. Wikipedia, rightly or wrongly, believe they have identified a gorup of people motivated by something they can stop, namely SEO link builders. What motivation is there to not use nofollow?

As an analogy, I don't care about hacking competitions, but if there was something I could do to stop being hacked, I would.

The attribute will NOT kill or even reduce wiki spamming

Will not reduce? Not even by a tiny bit? I bet it does, even if only slightly.

It's funny, but unless something is 100% effective, ppl seem to want to diss the idea. That is nuts. Sure, nofollow might not have much impact, but if they had 20 ideas, all that reduced spam by 2%, that would be a 34% reduction is spam. That means a lot less ppl correcting spam, and more importantly, a lot less frustration, which has pretty much killed DMOZ. Even if they can't think of 20 ideas, a 2% reduction in spam is still a step in the right direction.

It reminds me of this client I had once, who sold natural menopause relief pills. You know what the big search was? [menopause cure]. EVERYONE wants a cure, even when the issue is totally natural and inevitable. Sometimes, a cure simply isn't possible, and we need to look for small victories, like wiki's admins hope nofollow will provide.

It's funny, but I reckon companies that got links on wikipedia for clients are the ones who are likely screaming about it loudest. Hard to BS a client the wikipedia link is useful for SEO when you just tolf 'em they were nofollowed.

but it will only have an effect (if any) on how Wikipedia does on the serps.

Do we know it will affect wikipedia's rankings? I mean, seems to me that Google, for one, like wikipedia enough to give it lots of benefit. If the Google algo does reduce wikipedia's rankings, my guess would be they get some bonus links, like the Google news links that asometimes show up. That is IF they suffer at all.

If they do suffer a ranking drop, my God, that makes nofollow awefully risky code to use... ever!

#28 EGOL

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 09:52 PM

Danny Sullivan suggested in yesterdays daily search cast that if we ever link to wikipedia, we should use the nofollow. smile.gif

Wow, I agree with that idea. I wish everyone gave them the nofollow. It bothers me when I see their article stubs outranking entire websites with deep and superior content.

#29 Wit

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 02:48 AM

Hmmm Adrian,
If nofollow can help Wikipedia - if ever so slightly - then why did they take it out again, the last time they experimented with it? To test its effect? In fact a lot of Wiki admins are very preoccupied with SEO and even more of them see SEOs as hackers and spammers. They would even spit on Dougie hehehe. I reckon that 99% of them don't have a clue. My analogy: they are preventively handcuffing all football match spectators because of a handful of hooligans.

Now, I'm still not blaming them for trying, but it just won't accomplish what they hope it will. The only benefit - IMHO - is the linkbait thing. The (one?) admin who thought of that must have been quite smart. People (SEOs) are now pointing at them saying "Oo-er, look what THEY did!". But I think it's only fair to return the nofollow favour when I link to Wiki now. And it's not like I have put in hours and hours of my time writing or improving articles for them :wacko: Or removing crappy links from otherwise nice articles FTM...



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