It was not all that long ago that I wrote how Wikipedia should be spanked for using the NoFollow attribute on all external links.
Just by way of history, NoFollow is an attribute the search engines approved to help combat blog comment link spam. The problem was that so many bloggers were too lazy to moderate comments, that tons of spammy links were being created in blog comments around the world and this was skewing search engine results. NoFollow neuters any link it is applied to, so bloggers were encouraged to place it on any links they could not vouch for.
So many blogging programs made NoFollow the default setting for external links. For instance, this blog uses WordPress, and I had to apply the DoFollow plugin to un-neuter comment links. Most bloggers have no clue about this and unwittingly act as agents of Web neutering.
However, the opposite problem has since happened, that billions of legitimate links have the NoFollow attribute applied to them, since most bloggers are not even aware of the NoFollow attribute. And then Wikipedia, one of the top authorities who weighs its external links more carefully than anyone, applied the NoFollow attribute to all external links. Arguably, by removing the most carefully scrutinized links on the Internet from the search engine algorithms, Wikipedia has skewed the search results as much as any spammy blackhat SEO tactic ever could.
And I still say they should be spanked.
Now you can easily see NoFollow links, whether created by laziness, unawareness or nastiness. This is very helpful when deciding the SEO value of any participation on the Web. Needless to say, SEO is a factor in much of what I do online, so these tips can come in handy. In fact there are two ways, one of which worked on my computer and one of which did not. Both require FireFox, which is a very handy browser for SEO work.
The first way is by a handy little hack, which has worked for a lot of people, but for some reason it does not like me. The hack is good because it can be manually controlled in all sorts of way (except, obviously, by me). TDavid explains the Firefox NoFollow highlight hack quite well here. Cheerfully, he seems to be even less of a fan of Wikipedia’s NoFollow chop-chop than I am!
The other way, which worked well on my computer, is a plugin called SearchStatus, which, among other handy tools, makes all NoFollow links show up pink in my FireFox browser window. Here is a screenshot to show you just an example. This is from a page from — you guessed it! — Wikipedia. Click the image for a larger view. See how pink it is?
Wikipedia, consider yourself spanked!Written by David Leonhardt
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