Wikipedia is right about nofollow
There’s a lot of discussion on Techmeme right now about Wikipedia’s decision to add rel=”nofollow” (explanation at the end of this article) to all outbound links on its pages. People seem to be unhappy about the decision because they believe Wikipedia should link to the sources of the article data and provide them (the sources) with the necessary “google juice” in return.
Why wikipedia is right
In my opinion, these people are wrong and Wikipedia did the right thing. Let’s think about it for a while. Wikipedia needs to protect their data in order to remain a credible source of information. Part of that data protection initiative must encompass putting a brake on the spam they get daily – and this is the best way to do it.
By adding the nofollow attribute to their links, wikipedia is effectively telling spammers that by adding links to their pages from wikipedia, they get no “juice” (or search engine ranking boost, if you prefer) in return. Which is good because that way there’s no point in them spamming in the first place – wikipedia readers win, and the web in general wins as well, as there’s less garbage being crawled.
But what if I’m an authority on a topic?
The main reason why people are saying this is a bad move by Wikipedia, is because they get no compensation for being a valid information source for something and being linked from wikipedia. And this is right, but Wikipedia isn’t the only page on the web. If you’re a valuable source of information on a subject, you’ll get the necessary links from other people, who’ll boost your search engine position just as much.
This is a matter of balancing search engine rating greed and the understanding that wikipedia information needs to be valid, and kept that way.
Quick note for those who don’t know what nofollow is: if when defining a link to a page from one of yours, you add the rel=”nofollow” attribute, when engines like google crawl your page, they disregard those links. This is useful to make engines ignore links you can’t control – like those in comments to a blog post. In short, it makes things tidier.