A Modest Proposal for Solving Web Spam (Wikipedia and NOFOLLOW)

Remember when blog comment systems added support for nofollow and now there’s no more comment spam?

Well now Wikipedia will use nofollow and this should totally solve the Wikipedia spam problem.

Think of it! No more Wikipedia spam. Any minute now the spammers will realize that they’re not getting any PageRank so will almost certainly stop spamming!

I have a modest proposal. Let’s just make every web URL use nofollow. This way spammers won’t have an incentive to spam and we’ll totally solve the problem.

On a more serious note. If Wikipedia maintains this horribly stupid policy you can expect Google results to radically change in the next few weeks.

Also, outdegree is a factor in PageRank calculation so expect Wikipedia to dominate terms even more in Google.

Hm….. turnabout would be fair play. If you guys link to Wikipedia from now on make sure to use a nofollow link.

  1. Michelle Dessler

    It seems that the guys at NeoSmart Technologies are starting a boycott of Wikipedia, calling on all bloggers to use rel=”nofollow” when linking back to Wikipedia, until they stop this ridiculous practice.

    They cite quotations from Wikipedia’s own site wherein Wikimedia thanks the web for linking back to them – such hypocrisy is unbelievable!

  2. I believe that the nofollow will have zero influence on Wikipedia’s rankings in the SERPS but I could be wrong, please describe “outdegree”?

    I enjoy reading your blog Kevin.


  3. I think it’s even a little worse than that: no-follow really is solving Google’s problem with spam (it doesn’t end up in the index) while leaving blogs and Wiki’s to drown in comment spam.

    I wrote on my own blog, but to sum it up, why not use Akismet instead of no-follow?

  4. I don’t get it Kevin—when you use nofollow, it’s okay, but when Wikipedia uses it, it’s bad? What exactly, is the difference?

  5. Hey Connor.

    I don’t have any problem with nofollow as a general mechanism for NOT giving PageRank to a site which you already know is spam/evil.

    The problem I have is when people (engineers especially) assume guilt instead of innocence when creating all outbound links.

    Blog comment systems and wiki sites that flag all outbound links at nofollow basically are totally counter to the whole point of the web.

  6. I think Sean Connor’s point is you’ve assumed guilt on all commenter links — the visual ‘nofollows’ are especially obnoxious.

    Even your own comment name-link directly above has ‘nofollow’ on it. Is that an example of “NOT giving PageRank to a site which you already know is spam/evil”?

  7. Hey Gordon.

    Good point! I totally forgot about that!

    I blogged about it a long time ago… Basically Typepad has NO way to disable using nofollow even if I manually approve comments like I do now….

    Yeah…. it’s probably evil ;)

    I should eat my own dogfood and try to migrate away from Typepad if I can’t disable the use of nofollow.



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