Following the recent announcement of Wikipedia adding nofollow tags to external links, basically saying that Wikipedia cannot guarantee that outgoing links are not spam, I think we bloggers can retaliate by flagging all our links to Wikipedia as nofollow. Therefore, I have developed a small WordPress plugin that automatically adds rel=’nofollow’ to all outgoing links to Wikipedia.org, regardless of language.
Why rel=”nofollow” to Wikipedia?
Just in case you are wondering why I would release a plugin that adds the rel=”nofolow” tag to all links to Wikipedia, here is my justification. I knocked up the plugin rather rapidly this lunchtime, so didn’t have time to describe it properly then.
First, what is rel=”nofollow”? It is a hint to all the major search engines that link that I am making should not be counted when calculating search engine ranking. In practise it means either that the link is user-generated, such as blog comments, thus may be spam or not approved by the page owner, or that I do not like or approve of the contents of the page that I am linking to. For instance, if I were linking to an extremist group for the purposes of illustrating a viewpoint I found objectionable, I’d add the rel=”nofollow” tag to indicate to the search engines that they should not credit my link to the target site for the purposes of boosting the target site’s search engine ranking.
Now, what does Wikipedia adding rel=”nofollow” tell me? First, it appears to me as if they are taking a point of view that their links are not trustworthy or cannot be guaranteed, but whilst Wikipedia does not offically claim to be trustworthy or definitive, the common perception is that it is. Thus, by adding this attribute, they are bascially saying that even if the article is as correct as it can be, the source material they referenced to produce the article (remember there is the “no original research” edict in Wikipedia) is not being fully credited!
Second, rel=”nofollow” has not stopped spammers spamming blog comments, so if they think spammers will lessen up on Wikipedia they are kidding themselves. In fact, knowing that I get a reasonable amount of traffic directly through their kimono article, more than through kimono searches on Google, et al, perhaps spammers may even start hitting Wikipedia harder since rel=”nofollow” may be taken as a white flag, and with the overworked editors less worried about giving search engine boosts through bad links, perhaps they will slacken off.
Third, a lot of blogs link to Wikipedia as an easy reference point for various terms, so with no outgoing links from Wikipedia, search engines will raise Wikipedia even higher in the ratings. With the rumours that Wikipedia may soon start accepting advertisements, one could even conclude that this is not much more than an attempt to boost their revenue.