On 4/30/07, David Gerard <dgerard(a)gmail.com> wrote:
If your mission is to get nofollow on all links to
Wikia sites, I
suggest you come up with a reason it's for the good of the first party
(Wikipedia/Wikimedia) or the second party (the readers). Arguments
concerning third parties (search engine spammers) or the whim of
fourth parties (Google) are unlikely to convince, from observation.
Honestly, my only concern is fairly simple, and I don't care about SEO,
Google, or any of that directly. Nofollow in and of itself is not a bad
thing. It discourages spamming. My *personal* taste is that the outbound
links in total do not carry the nofollow tag, simply for the purposes of
allowing equal value universally. But, this is more a question of
philosophy, and belief in a completely unrestricted and collaborative
Internet. In practice, and in practicality, this is not possible. It makes
'easier' sense to simply nofollow everything, and I do not disagree that
this accomplishes the goal of discouraging spammers. Individual spam will
exist in different, clever ways. An article that gets 10,000+ hits or
whatever number, with only a handful of external links, will be a good
'target' for spammers anyway. They'll try to squeeze whatever little traffic
they can off of that article. Things like that however are easier to police
because of a universal nofollow setup, like the one in place.
It gets to be a problem as soon as exclusions are entered, is my point of
view. Being on the Interwiki map or in any way excluded from nofollow *does*
carry financial value. I'm not argueing for/against SEO, or any third party.
I'm arguing for the appearance of impartiality. By allowing even a single
non-Wikimedia Foundation site to reap any sort of financial benefit, a
possible conflict of interest now exists. Any outbound link from
*.wikipedia.org that lacks the nofollow restriction now is in the extreme
minority, limited to the whims and decisions of the meta developers. This
gives those developers tremendous authority.
* Do we know of the relationships (including fiscal) of all people with
authority to decide the nofollow situation to the website in question?
* Do we know the relationshp of the Foundation to all such sites that are on
the Interwiki link?
This is the sort of thing that needs to be disclosed for ethical reasons. If
no conflict of interest exists, there is no reason to not disclose such
information for any website or entity that benefits from this unique
situation. Alternately, the simple solution is to make nofollow mandatory,
with NO exceptions, for any link to any URL that is not owned by the
Foundation. If that happens, any questions of any possible conflicts are
utterly moot, since everyone in relation to the WMF is then on an even
ethical playing field--including financial contributors.
The problem in a Nutshell: As Anthony just said, "I think the best argument
for this is that enforcing a double-standard which benefits the for-profit
business of the founder of Wikimedia and a board member *looks bad*."