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Wikipedia Uses Follow Links for Wikia

Tadeusz Szewczyk [PersonRank 10]

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
12 years ago4,745 views

It seems that some people are more equal than others on Wikipedia. Wikia projects get real links without the nofollow attribute that makes a link worthless for Google. So Wikipedia behaves like any other commercial venture that pushes only their own projects.

In the offline world that's called privatization of public property.

techcrunch.com/2007/04/28/wiki ...

Mathias Schindler [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Hi,

back in the early days of Wikipedia, there was a tool for building up short links to other wikis by using that pattern:

[[:foo:bar]], a link to the page "bar" at the foo-wiki. (called: interwikilinks)

We are using this for linking other language editions of wikipedia (e.g. [[:en:FooBar]]).

2004, MediaWiki introduced templates and later parameters. If you prepare a template Foo, you can link to page Bar via {{foo:bar}}. Same size, same complexity. The old system is now more or less outdated when it comes to external links.

In 2005, we joined the initiative on the nofollow-link. External web links are by default given the nofollow tag. We did not add the nofollow tag to interwikilinks. interwikilinks on that list are currently not receiving nofollow-tags: meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Interw ... One of these 350 sites is Wikia.

Personally, I don't really like that nofollow tag. I am unable to say if this tool prevents Wikipedia from getting link spam. The feature that is needed would be something to enable us to have something like an "reverse link rot". If an external web link stays in a site for more than X weeks/days/hours or more than Y edits by Z different authors, the nofollow tag gets removed. In case someone speaks PHP, please join us and help developing a software solution for this.

In theory, all the external web links on a given site should be the best the web has to offer on a given subject.

OTOH, Wikipedia is a project to write an encyclopedia, not a link farm or a SEO playground. The target audience of Wikipedia are human people. Their ability to follow the web links on wikipedia.org is totally unaffected by the nofollow tag.

Bas [PersonRank 2]

12 years ago #

I think it would be a good solution to remove the nofollow tag after x weeks!

Fritz Harasin [PersonRank 2]

12 years ago #


[put at-character here] mathias, no website is supposed to be a link farm, but supposed to be meant for people. but so is google, where we search for sites. and if some sites refuse to tell search engines what they consider good links, then search will worsen. indeed, if some important sites (and wikipedia is certainly important for google) refuse to give the info voluntarily, google may just start to ignore the nofollow. so more cautious use of nofollow is asked for, and i can only second bas above.

John Honeck [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I for one hope wiki continues its use of Nofollow. I can then continue to trumpet it as the poster child for how misunderstood it is. As soon as they start using it responsibly and in the manner in which it was intended, then I loose one of the greatest arguments for the need for clarification from Google (and I suppose those lesser engines as well, if they bother)

So please continue, as having an authority site not even know the basics only helps those that do.

If wiki is just for people and not meant to influence search engines, then please put your money where your mouth is and also included the NOINDEX meta on each page. Then you can have all the visitors you want clicking their nofollow links, just not polluting the rest of Google's index with the content.

Niraj Sanghvi [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

>The feature that is needed would be something to enable us to have something like an "reverse link rot". If an external web link stays in a site for more than X weeks/days/hours or more than Y edits by Z different authors, the nofollow tag gets removed. In case someone speaks PHP, please join us and help developing a software solution for this.

Hmmm....sounds familiar, doesn't it? :)
blogoscoped.com/archive/2007-0 ...

Michael Martinez [PersonRank 5]

12 years ago #

Wikipedia has every right to use nofollow (or not use it) in any way it wishes. All the claims of unethical favoritism are just more whining nonsense from people in the SEO community who need to get a grip and maybe learn how to do some real search engine optimization (but I'm not holding my breath waiting for THAT to happen).

Andrew Hitchcock [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I started nofollowing all my links to WP when they nofollowed everyone else. If they implement nofollow rot like Philipp has, then maybe I'll reconsider.

Marcin Sochacki (Wanted) [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Contrary to popular belief, not all pages on Wikipedia are watched closely by the bunch of active editors. There are thousands upon thousands of articles which have an occasional edit every couple of months, and many of them are done by bots. If Wikipedia didn't use nofollow, spammy links would stay there for a long time, giving spammers the advantage of high PR boost.

Link rotting might work if each link was guaranteed to be verified in reasonable time. It's not the case in reality. One real improvement I could imagine, instead of link rotting, is for each new external link to be initially disabled (i.e. not even clickable). The link would be sent to some trusted editors to be checked and if positive it would be added to the article without nofollow.

About Wikia.com links being currently not nofollowed I think that people are simply greedy about their PR boost. Wikia *is* the commercial support for Wikipedia, just like Mozilla Corp. makes business on Firefox success and nobody seems to care. Nobody on Wikipedia claims it's supposed to be totally uncommercial – it costs money and someone has to finance it. The most important idea is that Wikipedia content is available under free license. Opponents of nofollow can just download the DB and set up their own fork with pure external links, but they shouldn't dictate the rules to those who manage Wikipedia.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> If Wikipedia didn't use nofollow, spammy links would
> stay there for a long time, giving spammers the
> advantage of high PR boost.

I think by not giving back to the web, Wikipedia has suffered "karma points," and these points are the currency by which they pay their many editors. People are now more likely to look into ways of selfishly using Wikipedia than before. Besides, people will continue to have incentive to post spam links for the human traffic it will bring.

> Opponents of nofollow can just download the DB and set
> up their own fork with pure external links, but they shouldn't
> dictate the rules to those who manage Wikipedia.

We all have the right to manage Wikipedia, because it's a very open model based on participation. At least that's the claim, right...

Tadeusz Szewczyk [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Of course Wikipedia is not for SEO or "free links" for everybody. I think the best solution would be to differentiate between commercial and non-commercial sites. A bot should crawl a link after it is entered (and then like every week) to check whether the site linked includes a shop, Google Adsense or the likes to determine whether it is non-commercial or not.
Besides links should be treated as separate "entries" and reviewed by humans like in digg. If a link gets more than 5 wiks by known wikipedians it can stay a real link.

The worst idea is to punish everyone just because some misuse a system. You do not arrest everybody just because some people steal, rob or kill, do you?

Marcin Sochacki (Wanted) [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]Tadeusz: "You do not arrest everybody just because some people steal, rob or kill, do you?" No, but Internet spam is a much different situation than stealing and you can't make such a parallel. First of all, the scale is much bigger and the ability to punish the guilty ones is very slim. By punishing I mean substantial fines or jail, not just blocking their spam, because inevitably they find other ways to spam. In case of e-mail spam and collateral damage (false positives) an often quoted document is "Thank the Spammers" linxnet.com/misc/spam/thank_sp ...

This also applies very well for Wikipedia spam – had spammers not abuse the system, there would be no need for nofollow, blacklists and other inventions. Unfortunately they also have some negative impact on legitimate links, just like e-mail spammers made your regular e-mail more difficult to use (filtering spam,, undelivered mail, lots of resources needed to run a mail server).

[put at-character here]Philipp: I dont agree about karma points. I'm an editor and I know many very active editors on Polish Wikipedia. They don't spend their time improving Wikipedia because they could promote their links, but for the pure pleasure of creating good content. nofollow had no effect on PL wiki – the quality or quantity of edits continually grows.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> They don't spend their time improving Wikipedia
> because they could promote their links, but for
> the pure pleasure of creating good content.

That's exactly what I mean. Because Wikipedia has had such good karma in the past, people voluntarily help out, in often unselfish ways. And what I'm saying is that as soon as Wikipedia shows disrespect to netiquette – nofollowing *all* outgoing links is a huge misunderstanding of nofollow, as well as netiquette – they can expect to have less people who voluntarily want to help out Wikipedia in unselfish ways.

Marcin Sochacki (Wanted) [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]Philipp: I agree that the use of nofollow at Wikipedia does hurt legitimate links. I hope this is an interim solution until the content reaches a point of stabilization. For instance we already have a mechanism to semi-protect an article (only registered users can change it), which helps to filter some spammers. Another proposal is to introduce "stable versions" of articles, which would be well written, verified and presented to the users. Any changes would go to a parallel version, not directly visible to users and search engines and wait there until some admin approves the change. "Stable articles" could have regular external links without nofollow.

In the meantime though, I agree with the decision to turn on nofollow for all links. There is still an incentive for links spammers thanks to direct traffic from Wikipedia, but it's much less attractive than potential high search engine rank.

JohnMu [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

How have things changed since the move to nofollowed links? Are there any public statistics about participation in number of articles new/edited, number of unique authors/editors, number of new links placed, number of spam-reports, etc? Since nofollowed links still carry some weight on the non-Google search engines, the Wikipedia could still be a source of "link-value" (albeit not for Google) for knowledgeable webmasters. We need to remember that Google has less than 50% [1] of the search volume – a lot, but not 99% :-) .
[1] comscore.com/press/release.asp ...

Marcin Sochacki (Wanted) [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]JohnMu:
Quite extensive stats for Wikipedia editors and articles are here:
stats.wikimedia.org/EN/Sitemap ...

Don't know why they didn't refresh the stats for English Wikipedia in the recent months, probably some technical problem. But e.g. German or Polish ones have complete charts until now. I don't see any significant change in trend when nofollow was introduced in Jan 2005.

About the spam reports it's rather difficult to measure, because I'm not aware of any built-in spam measurement tool. Each language Wikipedia manages the problem on their own; some spam is manually removed by thousands of editors, some is found by specialized bots.

About Google's search share, you're only citing the U.S. statistic, but in many other countries Google has a much higher share. In some it's not the dominant engine as well, e.g. China, but there are very few countries like that. In Poland for example Google has about 85% with the other top places taken by local engines. Yahoo and MSN are virtually unknown.

David Gerard [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

<i>"Wikia *is* the commercial support for Wikipedia, just like Mozilla Corp. makes business on Firefox success and nobody seems to care."</i>

This is actually not the case at all – they really are entirely separate organisations.

Marcin Sochacki (Wanted) [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]David Gerard: you're right, I must have imagined that.

Tadeusz Szewczyk [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Still, it's very crude to dump all links. It's like throwing out the baby with the bathwater or like disbanding democracy because of the terror threat.

At least WP could use Microformats like the rev="vote-abstain".

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