Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Wikipedia Adds No Follow to Links

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the things-that-shouldn't-matter dept.

The Internet 264

netbuzz writes "In an attempt to thwart spammers and search-engine optimization mischief, Wikipedia has begun tagging all external links on its site "nofollow", which renders those links invisible to search engines. Whether this is a good thing, a bad thing, or simply unavoidable has become a matter of much debate." This topic has come up before and the community voted to remove nofollow back in 2005. This new round of nofollow comes as a directive from Wikia President, Jimbo Wales.

cancel ×

264 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (4, Insightful)

P(0)(!P(k)+P(k+1)) (1012109) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714100)

From TFA:

Although the no-follow move is certainly understandable from a spam-fighting perspective, it turns Wikipedia into something of a black hole on the Net. It sucks up vast quantities of link energy but never releases any.

The situation is a classic tragedy of the commons [wikipedia.org] : does the interest of malificent spammers outweigh Wikipedia's rôle as a semantic mediator between alien but related nodes?

Should Wikipedia transition to leaf from cut-point, it may have significant and unforeseen effects on internet-topology.

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714322)

Read the wiki article you link to. The tragedy of the commons only applies to unmanaged resources. Wikipedia is a communally managed resource, so the analogy is less than apt. Your speculation regarding the impact of a no-follow wiki on the rest of the Internet is interesting, though.

I bring up the point about the Tragedy of the Commons because the parable has been used as an excuse to privatize communally managed resources, when such resources do not fall prey to the Tragedy. Reasoning such as yours could be used to justify the 'privatization' of wikipedia, turning it into an experts-only publication where the public has no input. This would be as bad a misapplication of the lessons of the Tragedy parable as it is when governments and industry collude to privatize such things as water cooperatives, which are public but managed resources and not vulnerable to the Tragedy at all.

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (2, Insightful)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714550)

I think you have a problem with the concept. The tragedy of the commons happened when common ground was abused because no one stakeholder managing their produce had a stake in the integrity of the common land.

That applies just as much to Wikipedia as well. No editor or group of editors has a stake in the integrity of Wikipedia when anyone connected to the Internet can undo, vandalize or otherwise screw up what they have written. Still less do they have a stake in the maintenance of encyclopedia standards since very few take any notice of them, and those that do are rapidly undone by those that don't. The resources are NOT communally managed at all.

Add to that a monolithic bureaucracy and you have a perfect example of the Tragedy of the Commons.

Reasoning such as yours could be used to justify the 'privatization' of wikipedia, turning it into an experts-only publication where the public has no input.

Oh the horror. Just imagine if Wikipedia was written only by people who knew what they were talking about. Terrors like that keep me up at night.

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714756)

Why don't you read the original essay? The tragedy of the commons happened when a common ground was abused because no effective method of management was in place to ensure the integrity of the common land. That method of management could be a single stakeholder, or a communal system of management. The original essay was very clear in regards to the fact that there is more than one way to effectively manage a resource.

Now, we could argue all day as to whether the system of management wikipedia has in place is effective or not, but we cannot argue that it has such a system. Imagine, would there be a tragedy of the commons if everyone felt free to simply kill all the cos of the offenders? If there weas, it would certainly be a different tragedy. That is akin to the management system of wikipedia. No overgrazing because any one person can nuke every single cow on the planet, and any other person can resurect every dead cow on the planet.

An experts only publication would not be a bad idea. Why don't you start one up and tell me when you get say 1/1,000 the number of articles wikipedia has, or 1/10,000 the readers. But don't do it to wikipedia, start your own. Wikipedia already has a system that works well enough. Sorry if you don't like it, but in this free market of ideas, enough people find it useful, as is, to make it one of the most popular sites on the Internet.

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (0)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714850)

Oh spun, I'd make you a friend 5 times if I could. Thanks for bringing light into my dreary slashdot days.

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714824)

"Oh the horror. Just imagine if Wikipedia was written only by people who knew what they were talking about. Terrors like that keep me up at night."


Citizendium.org is trying to write such an encyclopedia. It's a small project, but it's pretty active already. It'll be interesting to see how it goes - there's got to be more than one way to do this, after all. See if it interests you.

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714608)

What's the difference between "communally-managed" and "unmanaged"? That is, what's the difference between Wikipedia being communally-managed and the classic field-of-sheep commons? The latter also has community opprobrium to try to keep your usage fair.

  On Wiki you can actually go so far as to remove resource usages you don't find appropriate, but its success so far seems to be insufficient value to the trolls and spammers. If somebody were really intent on "overgrazing" wikipedia, automated troll-bots would have no difficulty spewing crap all over it faster than the community could work to revert it.

I'll be honest, I'm surprised I haven't seen more if it already.

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (5, Interesting)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714746)

"If somebody were really intent on "overgrazing" wikipedia, automated troll-bots would have no difficulty spewing crap all over it faster than the community could work to revert it. I'll be honest, I'm surprised I haven't seen more if it already."


You will be utterly unsurprised to know this happens already ...

In general, any obvious objection to the idea of a wiki encyclopedia already happens and is already dealt with day to day. We have a ridiculous array of spambots and vandalbots already attacking Wikipedia and trying to turn it to their use, never mind our work trying to write an encyclopedia. So we have an EQUALLY ridiculous array of antivandalbots to deal with these things as needed. Our immune system is quite frightening to contemplate at times ...

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714820)

Well, another responder answered your question quite handily already, but I will add this: Unmanaged means I have no effective way of dealing with your overgrazing or wikipedia abuse. Communally managed means we can, as a community, keep you from abusing the resource. If common grazing land were like wikipedia, the answer would be nuking all your sheep from orbit and posting a lock and a sign on the commons stating "you must be at least THIS------> Respectable before you can graze your sheep on these commons."

See the difference?

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (2, Interesting)

frankie (91710) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714838)

The current problem with Wikipedia is more of an offshoot from Tragedy of the Commons. In the grand tradition of Slashdot analogy-stretching:

  • Wikipedia is the field
  • long-time users are the (semi-enlightened, self-regulating) farmers
  • HOWEVER, thousands of new farmers have arrived in town, with more every day
  • AND it turns out that at least half of them are actually human-shaped insects a la Mimic [imdb.com] trying to devour the field AND the cows

In all seriousness, Wikipedia has simply outgrown its youthful innocence, just as the Internet did about 15 years ago. Peer-reviewed anarchy breaks down after a sufficient quantity of greedy scumbags show up. Semi-protection needs to become the default.

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17714326)

Fuck, definitely.

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (4, Insightful)

rossifer (581396) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714536)

Should Wikipedia transition to leaf from cut-point, it may have significant and unforeseen effects on internet-topology.
Wikipedia will remain a node-cluster in the larger web. The only difference is that for Google ranking, they no longer contribute to the ranking of outside websites. This will not stop people from putting relevant external links on Wikipedia pages, it just reduces the benefit to the linked site.

In my experience as a forum webmaster, there is simply no other choice. Any place where the unverified public can put up links, spammers will put up links to their crap, which do more than just use your resources for their ends. If Google notices that your site seems to have become a spammer link-farm, you're entire site will very likely be removed from Google, with all of the bad mojo that entails. So, any page where the unverified public can put up links, those links must be "nofollow", or else...

Personally, I'm astonished that Wikipedia hasn't done this from the beginning.

Ross

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (4, Interesting)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714784)

"Personally, I'm astonished that Wikipedia hasn't done this from the beginning."


All the Wikipedias other than English have had this in place already. It's just that the flood of spammers has been so bad on English Wikipedia we've finally had to put it on there too.

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (2, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714870)

No. They still contribute Pagerank to other websites.

The pagerank just leaks out from other places. MediaWiki's main site is a good example.
Also the other language wikis dont have nofollow so they will get a massive boost.

I'd really hate to be at google at the moment. Search results will be doing really funny things in the next month or so.

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17714540)

Offtopic and about to be modded into oblivion, but I think we have a runner up for most pretentious comment on slashdot

Re:Wikipedia and Internet-Topology (5, Insightful)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714836)

...outweigh Wikipedia's rôle as a semantic mediator between alien but related nodes?

False premise. Wikipedia is not a "semantic mediator between alien but related nodes". Wikipedia is just a free encyclopedia.

The only reason why an external link should be placed in Wikipedia is because that external link is already significant in some way. Wikipedia does not exist to make those external links any more significant than they already are. It seems to me that is the essential point of the Wikipedia policy, Wikipedia is not a soapbox [wikipedia.org] .

So, since there is no such "tragedy of the commons", Wikipedia is free to tag their links "nofollow" if they want to. If it raises Wikipedia's search results over the external links in Google, good for them. That's the way it should be. These bloggers who nitpick about Google PageRanks 24/7 strike me as a bunch of whiners, frankly.

Search Strategy (-1)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714104)

Because Wikipedia's search capability seems somewhat lacking, I have learned that it is usually much easier to find something on Wikipedia by entering the search term in Goole plus "wikipedia" or even "wiki." Will this affect how effective this search strategy is?

p.s. In fairness, this also works better with other sites (like Amazon, NewEgg, etc.) too.

Re:Search Strategy (5, Informative)

bluelip (123578) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714136)

RTFA - This only affects external links.

Your method of searching wikipedia through google is safe.

Page Rank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17714664)

To clarify - google's page rank algorithm doesn't care as much about who you link to, but who links to you. Therefore, this will only affect the page rank of the sites wikipedia was linking to, not the wikipedia pages themselves.

Re:Search Strategy (3, Informative)

shawb (16347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714408)

I don't think this would really affect your search strategy. Wikipedia gets a high score on pagerank because so many site link to it. What spammers etc. have done is then alter existing Wikipedia articles to add links to their own sites. Since Wikipedia has a high pagerank, any links out from Wikipedia will be higher rated than from many other websites. Altering Wikipedia pages in this way allows spammers, spoofers, phishers, etc to get their pages ranked higher on Google. These alterations were probably done in the links section on the bottom, so wouldn't be directly followed by people visiting Wikipedia. Making the link too visible would also make it more prone to reversion by a benevolent Wikipedia user.

I agree... when I want to look something up on Wikipedia I usually just do a Google search to find it if my initial search term doesn't come up with what I want. Chances are that it is a simple misspelling, as topics I am going to look up on Wikipedia are probably topics that I am not entirely familiar with. Google will then make suggestions based on it's vast knowledge (probably based on a dictionary created from crawling various web sites combined with data from what people followed from google after actually doing a search.

Re:Search Strategy (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714478)

I hear that. The number of times I've searched and the article titled with my exact search phrase comes in at 5th place astounds me. Of course, this is when search is actually working and they don't just redirect you to the 'try Google or Yahoo' page.

Re:Search Strategy (2, Informative)

gavri (663286) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714796)

Besides that the nofollow attributes are only for external links, here is Wikipedia/Google/Firefox smart keywords magic.

Create this bookmark and assign a keyword to it (mine is 'w')

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%25s+site%3Ae n.wikipedia.org&btnI=I'm+Feeling+Lucky&meta= [google.com]

Now type "w einstein" in the address bar and you reach http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein [wikipedia.org]
With practice, you'll be getting a positive hit almost all the time and the times you get a different article, the article you want is just one click away (which is how it is with the way you are doing it anyway)

Whats so special... (0, Offtopic)

gsn (989808) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714106)

"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

Slashdot has also added NoFollow to this article.

Re:Whats so special... (1)

vita10gy (932040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714236)

Slashdot serves as a jumping off point to other sites. Wikipedia is built by content from the cited sources, they should do their part to "elevate" those sources.

If someone puts a spam link in there it should be delt with like any other "vandalism". What is stopping anyone from replacing the entire contents of a popular article with, "Shop at My Store!"?

Re:Whats so special... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714420)

When is a link to a clothing store a "spam link", and when is it an example or cited resource?

Re:Whats so special... (1)

vita10gy (932040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714504)

That's a judgment call like anything else on that Wiki article. Is this a valid fact? Even if it is does it belong here? Is this a legit source? Should all be normal questions. It's pretty easy to tell what's spam. The people doing this are going to be the kind of people that link to a page with 100 google ads. I don't agree with "Since we have some spammers we should assume everyone is spamming." It's not going to solve the problem of spamming anyway. They want the direct hits as much as the 'SEO' aspect.

Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (5, Insightful)

XorNand (517466) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714112)

"nofollow" only exists because Larry Page and Sergey Brin had a (at the time) brillant idea of ranking webpages according to how many sites linked back to it... and now that method of determining relevance is broken. Prior to this innovation, most search engines relied upon META tags... which also eventually broke. Google is where it is today because they recognized that the web had evolved past META tags (and other techniques of self-describing content).

My point is that the Internet as a whole souldn't be tripping over ourselves because Google's invention too is now obsolete. The "nofollow" attribute is just an ugly hack created to accommodate the frequently-gamed PageRank algorithm. We should instead find new ways to determine relevance. Hey, if your idea is good enough, you might even find yourself a billionaire someday too. Who knows, maybe the next wave will also wash away all those god-forsaken AdSense landing pages and domain squatters (oh please, oh please, oh please...).

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17714234)

I agree - but I don't think we should be aiming for some eternal game of one-upmanship. There must exist a solution which simply stops the spammers, end of. I am think of something along the lines of a method which includes temporal information in determining things. The big thing about spammers and current methods is all they have to do is figure out how the method works (whether it be page content, meta labels or linkage) and then mimic it to get themselves up. How about if mimicking was impossible - i.e. the kernel of the method is something which operates based on a historical or other time dependent variable. The spam merchants can't go back in time - and if any method they devise take a couple of years to actually get anywhere then they are not going to bother (these folks work on the quick buck, and the amount of time also means the search engine has a very large lead time to change things).

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (1)

Simetrical (1047518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714632)

How about if . . . the kernel of the method is something which operates based on a historical or other time dependent variable. The spam merchants can't go back in time - and if any method they devise take a couple of years to actually get anywhere then they are not going to bother (these folks work on the quick buck, and the amount of time also means the search engine has a very large lead time to change things).

That would mean that relevance rankings are perpetually outdated. Not acceptable.

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (4, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714242)

``Google is where it is today because they recognized that the web had evolved past META tags (and other techniques of self-describing content).''

More like meta tags never worked. Much better to judge the content of a page by...looking at the content. Only a fraction of pages included meta tags, anyway.

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (1)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714506)

I was about to agree with you, but then I remembered back when I made my first web page in 1998, and sure enough, I used a few meta tags:

<META NAME="description" CONTENT="dreddnott's amazingly awe-inspiring XvT editing resource has finally received an update!">
<META NAME="Author" CONTENT="Jacob Bartle">
<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="xvt,opt,editing,board,forum,discussion,ba ckup,opt editing,star wars,hacking,tweaking,hex-editing,xvt,opt,editing, opt editing,star wars,hacking,tweaking,hex-editing,dreddnott,esd,es d2,eclipse,star destroyer,eclipse-class star destroyer,eclipse class star destroyer,xwing,x-wing,tie fighter,xwcs,xwing,sovereign,ssd,sssd,xwcs opts,opts,xwa,x-wing,xwing,xwing alliance,x-wing alliance,tie,slicing,brl,dj,darkjedi,lighthawk,hay wire">
<META NAME="joke" CONTENT="Q: Why did dreddnott never make it
in business? A: Because his work was undercapitalized!">

I think HotBot was the only search engine I "fooled" at the time.

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (4, Interesting)

Dan Farina (711066) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714244)

Actually this sort of flow model was well documented in IR, AI, and mathematic research for a period long before Google. While credit should be delivered for implementing this scheme in a world of already-entrenched search engines, it falls into the category of age-old computer science. This same scheme is also used to compute the final likelihood of states in Markov models -- a technique at least 30 or 40 years old.

In a nutshell: the eigenvalues of the adjacency matrix.

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (0, Troll)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714606)

Actually, the stuff in the iPhone was well-documented in radio waves, software, and sound encoding long before Apple. While credit should be delivered for implementing this scheme in a world of already-entrenched smartphones, it falls into the category of age-old telephony. This same scheme is used in the N-Gage -- a product at least 3 or 4 years old.

In a nutshell: cramming a bunch of functions onto one device.

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (1)

zyzzx0 (935520) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714252)

Yeah.... It's a tricky playing field with relevent arguments from both sides. The only reason I've ever contributed was for the possibility of external linking. I figure it's payment for my work and extra effort in posting relevent information. I'm out of the wiki game now baby. See ya Larry and Jimbo.

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714644)

Thanks for your interest in writing an encyclopedia! As opposed to spamming your site.

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (2, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714318)

In addition to what you have mentioned above, Wikipedia should not be given the weight it is in Google rankings, period. My Wikipedia user page should not show up as a top five return for a Google search of my name. It shouldn't show up at all simply because it's not as important as the other information out there on me.

The only reason the Wikipedia user entry exists is because Google does rank the pages *very* highly. Bleh.

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (4, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714470)

My Wikipedia user page makes me the number one hit on "David Gerard" (with and without quotes) because I use it as the link when responding to blog quotes about Wikipedia (in my role as volunteer press contact). I finally beat the Dutch painter!

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714458)

Is the hack really all that ugly? It actually strikes me as rather elegant: rather than looking at something tangential to the page itself, like a META tag, its looking at something fundamental about the nature of the web. The notion that a page donates some of its importance to other pages seems quite elegant to me, and the NOFOLLOW tag is a simple extension of that notion: "Even though I'm linking to this page, for whatever reason I don't consider it important."

Open user-editable web sites like Wiki should probably have a blanket NOFOLLOW, because the page owner isn't really willing to vouch for any of the pages that it links to.

I'm not so sure about that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17714594)

NOFOLLOW isn't something needed for all sites, only for those places where spammers will attempt to inject links.

And it's not a broken concept--Google still works, last I checked. The spammers will always be seeking new targets to harass. Google didn't start that, they just changed a few rules, and I don't expect spam to ever end, unless we start taking draconian measures to fight spam.

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714692)

We should instead find new ways to determine relevance.

We've tried letting webpages describing their relevance. (Meta tags)
We've tried letting others describe a webpage's relevance. (PageRank)

Short of spritiual divination and feng shui, how many other models could there be?

There's of course the "expert" model. but it has plenty issues with bias, shills and not least of all cost and scope, it's just not feasible to review even a fraction of a fraction of the sites google reviews daily. If you let everyone be a critic in the "peer" model, the botnets will have a field day with search engine rankings. I wouldn't be so quick to throw away the best we've got by far.

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (1)

Baricom (763970) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714934)

I've always wondered if grammatical scoring would be helpful. This is not beyond the capabilities of today's computers, because I'm not proposing understanding the content - only whether the grammatical syntax seems reasonable. SP4m d1ffernt b1cause looks differnt, and it shouldn't be too hard for a search engine to notice obvious flaws in language. This has the added benefit of forcing spammers to use proper grammar, which should then be easier to understand. A simple comparison to other pages can check for obvious keyword stuffing; e.g., pasting Shakespeare into the bottom of the page.

Also, "physical PageRank" - grading sites that cite academic sources more positively, and then confirming that the book's content matches the site's content - could be helpful. As much as I think Google Book Search is a massive copyright infringement and that they should be forced to cease & desist, it would be handy for physical PageRank.

I hereby release both of these ideas to the public domain.

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (1)

XorNand (517466) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714986)

Bah... there's always a way to build a better mousetrap. In fact, I personally am working on one that I feel is quite good. And there are experts in natural language processing and statistics that I'm sure could innovate circles around me in this area. In a few years I'm sure web search will be a whole new ballgame (again).

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (1, Informative)

VENONA (902751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714962)

Actually, nofollow predates Google. It dates back to at least HTML 2.0, so sometime around '94 or so. Google launched in 1998. It's original intent really was nofollow, not the 'don't index' that Google and some other engines mutated it into, which is what turned it into the ugly hack that you described it as.

I don't really subscribe to the Google==Good viewpoint commonly seen on Slashdot. I'm not saying Google==Evil, just that very little in this world is an unalloyed good, and that very much applies to Google. Most of my reasons are off-topic, but a bit of it is also abusing a standard for a temporary corporate gain. This is especially egregious when done by players who are so large that the original intent of a standard is completely lost. Which clearly is the case here.

Re:Neither good nor bad. It's immaterial. (1)

Garrynz (904755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17715058)

The worse thing they did was put the little green pagerank on the toolbar. They should also get rid of the link operator link:http.....

Jimbo...who are the founders? (4, Insightful)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714170)

While I don't necessarily disagree with the reinstatement of Wikipedia's nofollow policy, I do have to say one thing: Jimbo Wales is a tool.

Yesterday, after reading and noting glaring inconsistencies in the Wikipedia articles and talk pages for Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , Larry Sanger [wikipedia.org] , and Jimbo Wales [wikipedia.org] , as well as Jimbo Wales' user page [wikipedia.org] , I have lost a bit of respect for Wikipedia and a lot more for one of its cofounders. I can't believe he's trying to manipulate his encyclopedia project this way!

Re:Jimbo...who are the founders? (4, Informative)

AlexMax2742 (602517) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714798)

You are a fool if you think that the stupidity stops there: When Wikipedia gives sysop priviliages to batshit insane people like this guy [encycloped...matica.com] , and he somehow managed to keep said privilages for as long as he did (the only reason he lost said priviliages is because he picked a fight with another abusive admin), you know that there is something fundamentally wrong with Wikipedia.

Now if only someone can unprotect this article [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:Jimbo...who are the founders? (1)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714990)

Yeah, MONGO is quite a character. I was going to contribute to the various articles on the September 11th World Trade Center attacks last year, and while reading the talk pages I realised that nothing productive was going to happen while MONGO was an admin. The articles are much better now (and no, I'm not one of those whacked 911truth guys either).

I didn't really see Seabhcan as an abusive administrator, but maybe that's just the Irish in me.

Encylopedia Dramatica, well, I'm not 100% sure that it needs to have an article dedicated to it (Google results are strikingly lacking), but I definitely see the Wikipedia policy of annihilating all links to the website even on *user pages* as excessively draconian. I can't remember how I happened into the website in the first place but I enjoyed reading its 'articles'.

Re:Jimbo...who are the founders? (1)

christurkel (520220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714940)

Jimbo Wales has tools, his little minions who are trying hard to white wash history by making him the only founder of Wikipedia. Just try changing founder to co-foudner on his user page and watch them swarm all over your ass. He "suggests" and his little minions scurry as if doing a favor in Jimbo's eyes will make you more Powerful and Important.

"renders those links invisible to search engines"? (2, Informative)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714226)

How does the link="nofollow" attribute render links invisible to search engines? It's up to the search engines to ignore or to regard them.

If you don't want search engines to follow links on your website(s), you could rely on them to give you a proper agent string so that you can serve pages that don't include hyperlinks. But that's ugly nonetheless.

Re:"renders those links invisible to search engine (1)

riscthis (597073) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714380)

If you don't want search engines to follow links on your website(s), you could rely on them to give you a proper agent string so that you can serve pages that don't include hyperlinks. But that's ugly nonetheless.
If a search engine detects you're serving significantly different content to its robot than you are to the rest of the web (e.g. by comparing the contents served to a different IP with a web browser user agent string) it will probably erase your entire site from its index.

pointless (4, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714294)

Nofollow doesn't work if you just put the URL directly in the text, and google will treat them more or less as links (to the site at least, though possibly not the path).

The way to fix this is with stable versions -- you don't let search engines see unstable versions at all. But having looked at the craptastic mediawiki codebase, I can sympathize with them not wanting to bother with adding such a major feature.

rel=nofolow is neither a good or a bad thing (1)

sprins (717461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714298)

Since it can be edited by everybody, it is prone to abuse. Nip it in the bud!

On the other hand, the nofolow attribute doesn't take away anything from Wikipedia's semantic (and only relevant) value.

Ergo: No problemo!

Unavoidable? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714312)

How would it be unavoidable? They could have avoided it by...simply not doing it...couldn't they?

Better for Google, not Wikipedia (3, Insightful)

fyoder (857358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714314)

This won't solve the problem, since humans may still follow the links, so it's still worthwhile for spammers to have links in Wikipedia. Even if it doesn't up their pagerank, Wikipedia can still serve them as a spam delivery system.

However, it helps Google by not uping spammer's page rank. And less noise in the search results is good for the users of Google.

Re:Better for Google, not Wikipedia (1)

Ryan Amos (16972) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714544)

There are plenty of better ways to game Google than Wikipedia links. The entire SEO industry is designed to increase your pagerank on given keywords, and if you have enough money, they will produce results. You can pay your way to a #1 google ranking relatively easily and inexpensively (well, inexpensive for a corporate marketing department at least.)

This just probably will slow the crapflood of googlebombing links on Wikipedia, which take editors' resources to find, remove and keep removing. Most of the 'noise' on google is created by linkblogs run by the SEO companies or indexing services trying to boost their own pagerank. Adding 'nofollow' to wikipedia links won't do anything to change that.

Can Wikipedia withstand the weight of spam? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17714332)

Will Wikipedia face the same fate of the Open Directory Project -- where marketeers have spammed the site to render it useless. Check out the ZDNet post... [zdnet.com]

Idea for a New Search Engine with Unique Ranking? (4, Funny)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714338)

How about creating a new Google-style Ranking system that only ranks sites based on the number of no-follow links heading towards them?

Re:Idea for a New Search Engine with Unique Rankin (4, Interesting)

interiot (50685) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714604)

Yahoo Mindset [yahoo.com] lets you search for sites that are more commercial, or more informational. Sites with the most nofollow incoming links may fit into the "more commercial" group. (by the way, does anybody know how Mindset actually works?)

Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17714860)

Given the spammers are stupid and will probably still spam places with NOFOLLOW links, I wonder if this wouldn't be a useful way to tag worthless spam sites?

wikipedia is a bunch of assholes. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17714344)

a bunch of stupid moderators have made wikipedia a mess. it doesnt matter what happens out there..due to the policies of validation no small websites can ever get on wikipedia dna the larger ones have started to make wikipedia into a haven for advertorials.

Solves the Wrong Problem (0)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714362)

If the sole purpose of nofollow is combatting wikispam, it's solving the wrong problem. The fact that spammers adding links to undesirable sites increases the search engine ranking of said sites is merely a symptom. The _problem_ is that spammers can add the links in the first place. Or, really, that anyone can add any undesireable content. The symptoms this problem causes are much wider than search engine gaming alone. Attacking the symptoms one by one, instead of solving the problem at its root, seems the wrong approach to me.

Re:Solves the Wrong Problem (3, Informative)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714764)

The reason for the wikispam is an SEO contest...a kind of contest where one wins by having the highest search engine rankings at the end of the contest. The contest mentioned specifically points to Wikipedia as a resource.

So, to recap:
  • The spammers are participating in a contest.
  • To win the contest, you must have the highest rank in search engines.
  • Adding nofollow to links removes Wikipedia's value as a tool in raising one's pagerank, which removes it's primary value to the wikispammers participating in the contest.

Re:Solves the Wrong Problem (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714906)

I understand that, but it still only attacks the symptom of the actual problem.

Re:Solves the Wrong Problem (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714976)

The actual problem is spammers. If you can cure that problem, you will win a Nobel Prize, fame and all the cocaine and chicks you can deal with.

Not invisible (3, Interesting)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714404)

which renders those links invisible to search engines.

Uh, not really. The big search engines choose to not follow those links.

Using nofollow reduces the incentive for spammers, but in this case it will hurt search engines. Google wants to provide the most worthy links at the top of search results. Being linked from wikipedia is supposed to denote reliable sources or very relevant information. Therefore Google is slightly more accurate for having those links to follow in wikipedia. The nofollow will make search engines slightly less useful.

Re:Not invisible (1)

exspecto (513607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714484)

The nofollow tag is only for the *external* links. Google will still be able to index all Wikipedia urls. It will help Wikipedia's ranking.

Re:Not invisible (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714620)

I'm not talking about Wikipedia's ranking or URLs. I'm talking about the other sites that are linked to from Wikipedia. To search engines there is value in the fact that Wikipedia links to a site.

Re:Not invisible (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714828)

Being linked from wikipedia is supposed to denote reliable sources or very relevant information.
Is it? We all know that in practice, the only thing having your link in a Wikipedia article actually means in the real world is the last person to edit the article either thought it belonged, or didn't happen to look into it. It's the ill-advised prestige people seem to attach to a Wikipedia-linked site that will keep it worth it for the spammers to keep spamming, regardless of the nofollow tags.

Surrender to spam (1)

Gray (5042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17715020)

Your totally right about the reduction in inventive for spammers and that it's a somewhat odd choice for Wikipedia to make.

Why not let search providers be responsible for their own results? It is ultimately their choice how they let links from wikipedia.com domains influence their results, nofollow or otherwise. This is like an admission that the community can't handle the spam and is surrendering; and that won't work anyway.

Some search engines give extra weight to wikipedia links. Wikiseek.com results start with wikipedia pages and works down. They're unlikely to honor nofollow links.

Wikia is not Wikipedia - please correct story! (4, Informative)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714426)

Jimbo is the president of Wikia and the founder of Wikipedia. These are separate and distinct roles.


Speaking as a Wikipedia press volunteer, it's a goddamn nightmare keeping them separate in press perception. Because Jimbo is Mr Wikipedia, so even though Wikia is COMPLETELY UNASSOCIATED with Wikipedia, they keep conflating the two.

I ask that Slashdot not perpetuate this. Jimbo asked this as the founder of Wikipedia and the Final Authority on English Wikipedia, and Brion (the technical lead and Final Authority on MediaWiki) switched it on.

May I say also that we've been watching the spamming shitbags^W^WSEO experts bitch and whine about it, and it's deeply reassured us this was absolutely the right decision. We would ask Google to penalise links from Wikipedia, except the SEO experts^W^Wspamming shitbags would just try to fuck up each other's ranking by spamming their competitors.

To the spammers: I commend to you the wisdom of Saint Bill Hicks: "If you're a marketer, just kill yourself. Seriously."

Re:Wikia is not Wikipedia - please correct story! (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714564)

While the general "spamming shitbags" sentiment is spot-on (I put the hurt on spamming shitbags for a living), I gotta ask: is this how you conduct yourself as a press volunteer? No, probably not ... but if you think wikipedia links should be penalized in Google, then this seems to me a tacit admission that Wikipedia is basically a cesspool as goes content. You gotta wonder how much that colors the rest of the attitude.

You sound burned out, but hey you probably lasted longer than I did.

I did find Wikipedia a useful resource today when I needed to look up a couple items of minutae on the Final Fantasy game series. I'm not sure what kind of compliment that is though.

Re:Wikia is not Wikipedia - please correct story! (5, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714626)

We're not 'reliable' and we don't claim to be. This is important: we don't save the reader the trouble of having to think when reading.


Most of the complaints that 'Wikipedia isn't reliable' appear to be complaints that we haven't saved them the trouble of thinking. I have to say: too bad. It's useful or it wouldn't be a top 10 site. But it's just written by people. Keep your wits about you as you would reading any website. We work to keep it useful, but if you see something that strikes you as odd, check the references and check the history and check the talk page.

Wikipedia does not save the reader from having to think.

Re:Wikia is not Wikipedia - please correct story! (1)

Raindance (680694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714878)

Wikipedia does not save the reader from having to think.

I deeply appreciate Wikipedia's usefulness, but this makes it sound as though Wikipedia's sporadic unreliability is a feature, not a bug.

Re:Wikia is not Wikipedia - please correct story! (2, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714910)

Except that it's generally a good idea for individuals to retain their ability to think in all situations.

Re:Wikia is not Wikipedia - please correct story! (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714926)

It's just how it is, by its nature. When people say "Wikipedia is not reliable", they seem to mean "I have to think, waaah."


There are all sorts of ideas on how to abstract a "reliable" subset of Wikipedia. Someone just has to bother, really.

Re:Wikia is not Wikipedia - please correct story! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17714944)

Thats a very good point. In fact, your argument is the very same one I've had from people who don't like linux. Because it requires them to "think", whereas Windows or Mac doesn't. Therefore Linux isn't "reliable" for them. What's different is that many people are trying to make linux more "reliable" for people so the will be able to "use" it.

You know, its a real cop out to say that everything is perfect and the ones who don't think its perfect are stupid and don't want to think. Its okay to just admit its not perfect, but you do the best you can to provide the best service available to your clients. There's no shame in that. In any case future ideas for improving the service along the lines of reliability continue to be researched and debated by the organization. As you can not speak for the organization at large you should perhaps refrain from using the royal we, and substitute the plebeian I.

Re:Wikia is not Wikipedia - please correct story! (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17715064)

Sorry, I should stress that we (and I think I can say "we" here) do work very hard indeed to make Wikipedia as good and useful as we can. What we cannot do - obviously, by its nature - is guarantee quality. We're just people, doing our best. That's mostly way good enough, but we must caution the reader to keep their wits about them.

Re:Wikia is not Wikipedia - please correct story! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17714680)

We would ask Google to penalise links from Wikipedia

Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater... Not only does Wikipedia assimilate external information through thinly disguised quoting, now you're contemplating punishing your legitimate sources for providing the information?

Re:Wikia is not Wikipedia - please correct story! (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714830)

We would ask Google to penalise links from Wikipedia...

Hey, no problemo. Simply remove the ability to link to external sites altogether. As someone who has a couple of links from Wikipedia to my content, I know were I to be penalized for them, I would remove them very quickly, as would others. So why not just eliminate them completely in the first place thus saving time and aggravation for all parties?

Call this version 1.0 (4, Interesting)

victim (30647) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714482)

This should be considered a step in an evolving policy. The next step should be that old links, ones that have survived many edits and time as well as links added or edited by known and trusted editors should omit the no-follow tag. Then wikipedia can continue to serve as an interpreter of the WWW.

Re:Call this version 1.0 (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714688)

That would be the ideal way of doing it.


MediaWiki needs developers. If someone can write something to do this, cleanly enough that it passes the developers' exacting code standards (when you run a top-10 website on PHP and MySQL, you need to know what you're doing), please contribute!

Re:Call this version 1.0 (1)

jerkface.us (1022871) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714774)

I don't know if this is the ideal way. They could also vote to omit the tags on a per-link basis.

Re:Call this version 1.0 (2, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714744)

The next step should be that old links, ones that have survived many edits and time as well as links added or edited by known and trusted editors should omit the no-follow tag.

I like this idea. nofollow is more useful for the unmaintained or rarely-maintained site. If you're going to leave the site alone for a month and come back, you probably want to avoid rewarding the comment/wiki spammers who drop by in the meantime. On the other hand, once you verify the site, it's worth helping the site out a bit.

With blog comments, this can (usually) be done through manual moderation: give the links nofollow until the comment is approved. With something the size of Wikipedia, it depends entirely on how popular the target article is. Frequently-visited articles are more likely to have the spam cleared out, and less likely to benefit from nofollow, as it's unlikely that too many search engines are going to drop by in the 15 minutes between the linkspam being posted and the edit being reverted.

An advantage of the criteria you suggested is that it could, in theory, be done automatically. The metadata is already there: how long it's been since the link was added, who added it, how many edits have occurred with the link staying present. IIRC there's also a concept of reviewed/approved versions of an article, where someone has gone through and said, "Yes, this version is good," which could also be used to determine "good" links.

Re:Call this version 1.0 - link signing? (1)

victim (30647) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714854)

On further reflection, this would be a means for wikipedia to communicate to search engines and browsers the trust level of link. A more general solution would be to introduce link signing. Allow people to create a "linker id" and a private linker key. They could then sign links with their id and a signature.

The search engines are then free to decide who they trust and how much. Link spammers should be obvious by making huge numbers of links to the same content. People who make consistently good links can be more trustworthy in the ranks.

The network infrastucture could be fairly simple. Use DNS for mapping the "linker id" to their key. That way any organization can allocate ids without stepping on each others toes.

It would be possible to keep a registry of each linker id's reputation, much like realitime spam block lists are kept now, but that would likely be a spot for gaming the system and other people whining that they were unjustly ranked. It would be better to just leave it up to each search engine to figure out who the good linkers in the world are and adjust them accordingly.

Re:Call this version 1.0 - link signing? (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714900)

If you can code this, that would be marvellous.


(At the moment, the thing MediaWiki most lacks is good coders - people who can do database programming to a MySQL database in PHP, efficiently enough to run a top-10 website which is nonprofit and hence broke by definition. CODERS WANTED!)

Bad Link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17714538)

I sent my spider to RTFA for me, don't tell me you do that yourself! How primative.

But it seems the link: all external links on its site "nofollow", had a no follow on it!

Mu ha ha ha... okay that is bad, where is my anonymous checkbox?

I doubt it'll stop wiki spamming (4, Interesting)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714560)

I don't think this will do much to stop Wikipedia link spamming for several reasons:

  • Many spam links on Wikipedia aren't commercially motivated spam, but just people who've naively put external links in articles without properly understanding or caring about the editing policy. They're not thinking so much about search engines as about pointing people to their website (or their favourite website) because they think it's more important than it probably is. If it's a relatively obscure article, it might stay there for months or longer before someone goes through and reviews the links.

  • Wikipedia is only one of the websites that publishes Wikipedia content. There are lots of other sources that clone it, precisely as they're allowed to under the licence, and re-publish it. They usually add advertising to the content, or use it to lure people to some other form of revenue. These sites are easy to find by picking a phrase from Wikipedia and keying it in to a search engine like Google, and I doubt they'll add the nofollow attribute to their reproductions of the content.

    Wikipedia is probably treated as a more important source of links by search engines, but whatever's published on Wikipedia will be re-published in many other places within the weeks that it takes for the new content to be crawled and to propagate. And links on any Wikipedia articles will propagate too, of course.

  • Even if you ignore search engines, having external links from a well written Wikipedia article that gets referenced and read a lot is probably going to generate at least some traffic to a website. Wikipedia articles are often a good place to find good external sources, probably because they get audited and the crappy ones get removed from time to time. This is exactly what provides motivation for spammers to try and get their links added, though.

Good on them for trying something, but I don't think it'll stop spammers very much.

Let the search engines do this themselves (3, Insightful)

Bananenrepublik (49759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714572)

If this is of benefit to the search engine operators, then it should be simple enough for the search engine operators to follow or not follow external links from wikipedia, with or without NOFOLLOW. Wikipedia has a high enough profile that search engines already treat it differently from Average John's Incredibly Boring Blog, and they will know if it is of benefit for them to follow those links, without wikipedia putting some policy in place.

Tagging? (1)

imrec (461877) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714592)

Wikipedia has begun tagging all external links on its site "nofollow"

Dude! it's called 'Labeling' now.

Overlooking the reason for this change (5, Insightful)

Distan (122159) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714616)

I think the article noted that the last time this came up for vote by the community, the community voted it down. I think it also notes that this is something that Jimbo Wales dictated, and not something that went through the normal community approval process.

Why?

Why would Wales simply dictate this change be made?

Because Wikipedia is a source of high-quality links. Editors have increasingly been making sure to put high-quality references in articles, mainly as links to other web sites. A single Wikipedia article can often contain links to the best websites related to that subject.

So ask yourself why would Wales want to make those links private, and no longer harvested by Google.

Is it that hard to figure out?

If you still don't know, then ask yourself what business Wales has announced that he wants to pursue with his new for profit company, Wikia?

Search Engines.

In the words of Paul Harvey, now you know the REST of the story.

Could be a tax issue for Wikipedia (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714794)

Wales' behavior may be an issue for Wikipedia. If the same person is involved with a profit-making venture and a nonprofit in the same area, the tax status of the nonprofit becomes questionable. When a US nonprofit files their tax return, they have to list any officers or directors involved with profit-making ventures in the same field.

The IRS is concerned because if you have a nonprofit and a for-profit organization under the same management, it's often possible to structure things so that the for-profit corporation shows a phony tax loss.

Re:Overlooking the reason for this change (4, Insightful)

Bluephonic (682158) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714888)

Sorry, that doesn't make sense. As other people have mentioned, nofollow is not a magic incantation that search engine crawlers have no choice but to obey. Google can do whatever it wants with any link (they could choose to completely ignore the nofollow attribute when it's on wikipedia pages, for example).

I really don't think it's a problem. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17714628)

Wikipedia does plenty to raise the search results of quality sites that are linked to. How? Increasing traffic by people interested in the topic at hand. If the page in question provides meaningful and interesting content, some of those people will link to it. There's no reason the large link count of the site should be wielded by anyone who wants to boost their search rating. I think this is probably the right decision. There's a big difference between not moving robots and not moving people.

Wikia President? (1)

btgreat (895041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714634)

From the summary:

This new round of nofollow comes as a directive from Wikia President, Jimbo Wales.

Anyone else find that as funny as I did?

In other news... (1)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714646)

SleepyHappyDoc added italics to his Slashdot post today. An unnamed source decryed this move as "unnecessary" and strongly implied that this action was not noteworthy. Film at eleven.

Re:In other news... (2, Funny)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714712)

You can keep your precious italics. Wikipedia encourages me to be bold!

The "official" announcement... (2, Insightful)

adnonsense (826530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17714942)

... is here [wikimedia.org] ; they seem to be concerned about a "search engine optimization world championship".

Personally I think we can all do our bit and stop linking to Wikipedia so much, because Google is starting to give the impression that Wikipedia is the fount of all knowledge - to the detriment of pages which contain better information but which don't happen to have WP's massive net presence.

Overkill (2, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17715054)

Wouldn't a better approach be to figure out the average longevity of a spam link on the site, and tag links with 'nofollow' for slightly longer than that period of time? After that they can remove the 'nofollow' because, presumably, if it was spam the link would have been removed already.

Could they not do it smarter? (3, Interesting)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#17715060)

For example, auto-add the "nofollow" only to the links added in recent edits (for some definition of recent). Once a particular link was part of the page long enough (and survived other people's edits), it can be followed by the search engines...

I, for one, contributed a number of wild-life pictures to Wikipedia, but am also selling them in my own shop [cafepress.com] . I don't think, it is unfair for me to expect links to my shop from the contributed images to be followed...

Norm is WoW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17715066)

User Norm [wikipedia.org] from Wikipedia is the vandal Willy on Wheels!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>