No Follow

No Follow is a darn fine example of standards making. Ten. That’s all, ten. They only had to get ten organizations on board. And it’s very simple too; so they didn’t have to spend months in oddly illuminated rooms discussing character sets and industry politics. Nice thing about small numbers, like 10, is they can execute the entire project in private. They don’t have to polish the idea in the face of millions of bloggers. They can just do it.

I wonder if it took this long to happen because we needed to wait for the blogger and search engine industries to condense to the point that the number fell to ten or less?

All this reminds me of a posting I made a long time ago – “Feeding the link parasites is a sin“. (For about a year after I wrote that posting it was a magnet for spammers experimenting with innovative new attacks.) When I wrote that my concern was how the open posting policy of blogs was creating a plate of agar for various lower live forms. A substrate just like Outlook, Internet Explore, and Windows 99.

At the time it did occurred to me that the right answer to the problem was to mark up the out bound links, I suggested an author=”unknown” attribute in the link. But I really thought that the right thing to do was to mark up all the added content. Then the search engine would be able to distinguish which portions of the site the site’s owner wished to have accrue to his identity.

My hope was that site maintainers would strive to find a solution to the open posting problem because their identity was at risk; and to a large extent that’s been true. But the problem remains really hard – casually usable open systems are hard.

The rel=”nofollow” solution adds weight to the model that the search engines don’t particularly care about the content of your pages, that in end it’s who you know, not what you know that counts. Probably so.

0 thoughts on “No Follow

  1. Ben Hyde

    Richard – I like the nofollow hack. I’m impressed that somebody found a way to do something constructive. I’m just musing about how it serves the needs of the link harvesting crowd more than it serves the open discussion crowd. If we come back in a few years and the spam problem has disappeared I suspect we will be living in a police state.

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