Wikipedia, the trusted authority for many of our information and research needs, has been forced to implement the “nofollow” attribute across the board on all its external links. According to the Wikipedia Talk, the initiative should help combat the growing issue of link spam on the site.
The “nofollow” attribute was first introduced to fight against the issue of blog comment spam. “nofollow” is simply a directive for search engine spiders. While the spiders can see the link, the attribute informs them not to follow the link, hence removing the value of its placement.
While the link spam issue needs to be addressed, many netizens believe that blanket implementation of the “nofollow” attribute goes against many of the principles of community and web 2.0. Considering Wikipedia is the poster child of the revolution, this doesn’t reflect well on the movement.
Wikipedia’s rise to popularity and authority has been driven by the community both in terms of content and inbound links. The people that have helped to build the social web icon will now be feeling left out in the cold – with the value of their Wikipedia inbound links removed.
The consequences of this move are far reaching, as all the top search engines like Google and Yahoo! place significant value on relevant inbound links – and they don’t get much more valuable than a Wikipedia inbound link.
I believe use of the “nofollow” by wikipedia will only be a temporary fix for the link spam issue, while more research is undertaken to develop a more sustainable solution.
It will be interesting to see what impact this does have on website rankings; especially those that have relied on Wikipedia for inbound link value. If this is you – let us know how it impacts your website…