From Search Engine Journal and SEOmoz Blog comes this news: “As of now are all outbound links from the english Wikipedia Site using the NOFOLLOW attribute, no exceptions.” If you have no idea what this means, that’s a good thing — as many of the people who know the ins-and-outs of the nofollow attribute are obsessed with getting around it. This new Wikipedia practice is supposed to discourage link-spammers from uploaded links to Wikipedia for the Google-juice that may accrue from the link appearing there. Without getting too technical, the search index “bots” of the major search engines do not “count” links that fall within “nofollow” tags, thus making “comment spamming” and “Wikipedia link spamming” of little importance in moving a link up in their results. Again, if that makes no sense, congratulations. You have a life.
I’m not so sure this decision by Wikipedia regarding the NOFOLLOW attribute is very beneficial. Why not? It is a feature of most blogging platforms’ comments tool (links appearing in comments are not “indexed” by search engines, in other words) but that does not seem to slow down the attempts by link spammers to clog comments.
Also, from my experience of maintaining a rather large and robust wiki, I think one of the reasons individuals participate in helping to create such resources is to pick up some link-love. In other words, I won’t be instituting the nofollow attribute on any mediawiki sites with which I am associated. However, we will continue to be vigorous in several ways already used to block link spam from our sites. (In is a massive understatement to say our challenge is nothing on the level as that faced by Wikipedia.)
I don’t know how this may be related, but I think Akismet is a modern marvel as it has nearly obliterated comment spam from this blog — something the NOFOLLOW attribute did not even make a dent in. Perhaps Akismet can come up with a version that plugs into the MediaWiki platform.
Bonus link: One of the people I respect most when it comes to all things wiki, Ross Mayfield of Social Text, does not like the nofollow decision by Wikipedia.