The Nofollow-Universe of Black Holes

I pretty much dislike the rel=nofollow fiasco for various reasons, especially its ongoing semantic morphing and often unethical implementation. Recently I wrote about nofollow-confusion and beginning nofollow-insane. Meanwhile the nofollow-debacle went a major step forwards: bloggers fight huge black holes (the completely link-condomized Wikipedia) with many tiny black holes (plug-ins castrating links leading to Wikipedia).

Folks, do you realize that actually you’ve joined the nofollow-nightmare you’re ranting about? Instead of trying to change things with constructive criticism addressing nofollow-supporters, you take the Old Testament approach, escalating an IMHO still remediable aberration. This senseless attitude supports the hapless nofollow-mechanism by the way. You’re acting like defiant kids crying “nofollow is sooooo unfair” while you strike back with tactical weapons unsuitable to solve the nofollow-problem. Devaluing Wikipedia links because Wikipedia is de facto an untrusted source of information OTOH makes sound sense, although semantically rel=nofollow is not the right way to go in this case.

I understand that losing the (imputed!) link juice of a couple Wikipedia links is not nice. However, I don’t buy that these links were boosting SE rankings in the first place –although a few sites having only Wikipedia inbound links drop out of the SERPs currently–, their real value is extremely well targeted traffic, and these links are still clickable.

I agree that Wikipedia’s decision to link-condomize all outbound links is a thoughtless, lazy, and pretty insufficient try to fight vandalizing link droppers. It is even “unfair”, because the black hole Wikipedia now sucks the whole Web’s link juice while giving nothing (except nicely targeted traffic) in return. But I must admit that there were not that many options, since there are no search engine crawler directives on link level providing the granularity Wikipedia probably needs.

Lets imagine the hapless nofollow value of the REL attribute would not exist. In this scenario Wikipedia could implement 4-eyes link tagging as follows:
1. New outgoing links would get tagged rel=”unapproved”. Search engines would not count a vote for the link destination, but follow the link.
2. Later on, when a couple trusted users and/or admins have approved the link, “unapproved” would get removed forever (URL and REL values stored in combination with the article’s URL to automatically reinstate the link’s stage on edits where a link gets removed, added, removed and added again…). So far that would even work with the misguiding “nofollow” value, but an extended microformat would allow meaningful followup-tags like “example”, “source”, “inventor”, “norm”, “worstenemy”, “hownotto” or whatever.

Instead of ranting and vandalizing links we should begin to establish a RFC on crawler directives on HTML element level. That would be a really productive approach.

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