Bloggers: stop linking to Wikipedia

Based on a "directive" from Jimmy Wales [1], the English version of Wikipedia has started using the "nofollow" tag on all external links (the foreign language versions had been doing that for a while). That tag tells search engines to not pass any "search engine juice" (e.g., PageRank) from the WP page to the linked page. While sites that have links in WP will continue to receive visitors from those links, they will (supposedly) not receive search engine-related benefits (they might, however, be spidered by some engines). Certainly, some search engines may special-case WP (including having assumed that external links weren't trustworthy already), and some mirror sites (like may or may not follow WP's lead. However, it's the thought that counts, and this is an example of WP giving a big FU to those who contribute to their site.

The rip-off nature of this change is described here:

What happens as a consequence, in my opinion, is that Wikipedia gets valuable backlinks from all over the web, in huge quantity, and of huge importance – normal links, not "nofollow" links; this is what makes Wikipedia rank so well – but as of now, they're not giving any of this back... Wikipedia has become a website that takes from the communities but doesn't give back, skewing web etiquette as well as tools that work on this etiquette (like search engines, which analyze the web's link structure).

That page also describes what I suggest that everyone does in response:

I predict some people will now, in return, stop linking to Wikipedia, or "nofollow" their links to Wikipedia (following the argument that if they don't trust their own system, we shouldn't either, and also following social etiquette – returning a disfavor, so to speak).

This site has been doing that for quite a while, and will do things like link to if we need WP's content for some odd reason.

Note also that WP's guidelines strongly discourage using blogs as a source [2]. So, if you're a blogger who has a real news story you might have trouble getting your link to stick, and even if you do it will be nofollowed. And, as described here, that might result in WP ranking higher for something than the site with the original news.

This move may lead a small number of people to commit acts of vandalism against WP as a form of revenge, such as by attempting to stuff pages with spammy words. It might also lead to some people spamming not for (the apparently non-existent) "link juice" but for simple traffic. For instance, so far this month their Playstation 3 page supposedly got 40,000 views per day; a well-placed link there could result in hundreds or thousands of click-throughs.

And, it would be interesting to find out which links in Wikipedia don't have that tag; for instance, their links to the wikimediafoundation .org from their main page don't have nofollow.

On a technical note, this tag only seems to be added after a page is edited, perhaps due to caching. I originally thought I found a case of a link without the tag [3], but upon saving the section (without any changes), it had obtained that tag.

[1] Wrap these lines and remove the space before ".org":
en.wikipedia .org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Spam

[2] Remove the space before ".org": en.wikipedia .org/wiki/WP:V#SELF

[3] The link to here (remove the space before ".org"):
en.wikipedia .org/wiki/Hazards_of_outdoor_activities#External_links

(Note: Placing links in that format is not necessarily suggested, that's just the method used in this instance.)


Actually, the use of nofollow is becoming more and more commonplace with many collaborative web projects because it closes down the incentive for SEO abuse, and offers no reward or incentive for choosing (in WikiPedia's case) which reference or example sites to link to.

As an example, adds the nofollow attribute to links in deleted posts, because a high quantity of deleted threads on MetaFilter are either spam in the form of self links or a duplicate link.

MetaFilter also adds the nofollow tag to the "website" field of the user profile page.

In WikiPedia's case, yes, it would be perfectly fine to reciprocate with a nofollow attribute. It doesn't really matter. I can go to WP directly and search my terms instead of finding the link in the top 10 on Google.

Or just don't link to WikiPedia. No one is forcing you to do so. Even if no one linked to Wikipedia it would still be an attractive resource, and would likely still rank high in google results, because megasites like WP often generate their google-foo.

Another example: Years ago before google stopped spidering, you could get a hit for an E2 page in the top 10 for just about any given word in the dictionary. Why? Because E2 is extremely link-dense; It links to itself a whole lot. Often hundreds or thousands of times per "node" or page. Add in even a mildly good rep, and each self-link within E2 suddenly becomes massively more valuable to PageRank.

Wikipedia has the same issue, now, with many more external links.

this is an example of WP giving a big FU to those who contribute to their site. Nobody has the right to advertise on Wikipedia, dummy.

Also, how is it helpful to your readers to make Wikipedia links into fudged-up URLs we have to copy, edit, and paste? If you hate Wikipedia so much just use nofollow like they do.