You may have heard that Wikipedia recently decided that all outbound links would be coded with the “nofollow” tag, meaning that search engines do not give the links any weight in their algorithms. The idea is that it will make it much less desirable for spammers to add their links to the thousands of pages at Wikipedia. Sounds good right? Well so far, the reaction has been pretty negative:
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.
Lots of bloggers are worried that the new scheme does not properly recognize the original sources of information. A blog or other site will still be cited on the Wikipedia page, but that citation no longer carries any weight with the search engines.
I think that argument is fairly weak. If you are really deserving of some major “link energy” then you’ll get it, because chances are, Wikipedia won’t be the only site linking to you. So worries about not getting “credit” in the form of Google-juice are pretty unfounded, I think.
I suppose it comes down to the “perfect world” scenario. In a perfect world, there would be no spam, and everyone would benefit maximally from linking to one another. Thing is, we don’t live in a perfect world – thus we have to attempt to reduce the imperfections. This policy is an attempt to do that with spam.
I see the nofollow policy as serving the greater good. Is an individual’s link juice more important than everyone’s access to a reliable, spam-free Wikipedia? The answer is no, and that’s why I think the nofollow policy is good.