“nofollow” Still Considered Harmful
Post from January 6, 2007 (↻ June 12, 2021), filed under Web Development.
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nofollow is crap.
nofollow” website’s explanation of all the disadvantages of the unstandardized
nofollow value for HTML’s
rel attribute is pretty comprehensive. Please read it, if you haven’t before, especially when you run a system that hammers out
nofollow disrespects the nature of the Web and it disrespects users. If anyone, it only benefits search engines. We need to think about other ways to avoid spam. We need to stop using
Ultimately, the entire
nofollow thing reminds of camera surveillance. Everyone appears to think it helps against crime and terrorism, but it doesn’t.
I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m an engineering manager and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to the W3C and the WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. Other than that, I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
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On January 10, 2007, 17:16 CET, Robert Wellock said:
I’d have to agree the nofollow is a harmful implementation and serves little useful purpose.
After all, most spam is typically robot generated anyway and they couldn’t care a hoot whether or not they are dropping nonsense links on a website with that attribute or not.
rel=”nofollow” is free speech and it’s up to search engines to do with it as they like. As far as the concern of it not being semantic and standards based, I agree with that and I see “nofollow” as a temporary stopgap until a much better solution is found. I seriously doubt we’ll see the use of “nofollow” in the next five years—something else will replace it that makes more sense.
Beyond that, the main argument is both ideological and philosophical. For every argument that you can make against it, I can make for it. It doesn’t make either of us correct—just our opinions different on how communication over the Internet should work. Personally, I prefer the control that “nofollow” gives me.
On January 23, 2007, 18:13 CET, Edward Clarke said:
Jon, is this the control over the constant spamming it gives you or the control over the content and its semantics? I’m not sure I follow you.
You can read my thoughts on rel=nofollow but to summarise, it’s pointless from a publishers point of view.
If rel=nofollow can encourage high ranking sites to open themselves up to user-submitted content with less risk of turning themselves into PageRank-link-farms, then there must be some value in it.
I think it can be implemented in a non-harmful way, for example applying nofollow to user-submitted links until they have been moderated or approved in some way…?
Agreed. nofollow doesn’t work at all and that is why I have removed it from my blog comments and trackbacks. Of course, I’ve implement 2 layers of anti-spam measures and I carefully read all comments that make it past Akismet and my captcha. Anything lame gets the link taken off of it and/or deleted.
“nofollow” is a great solution for blogs that get abandoned. However, it is unnecessary for active and moderated blogs.
On July 26, 2007, 7:58 CEST, No Follow Sucks said:
I wouldn’t say No Follow is ‘harmful’, it does not really harm anybody. It may reduce interaction from vistors, that’s all.
Rather, I’d say the tag is pointless as anti-spam measures do a good job of stopping spam.
On September 5, 2007, 15:09 CEST, Anikrichard said:
hello , my name is Richard and I know you get a lot of spammy comments ,
I can help you with this problem . I know a lot of spammers and I will ask them not to post on your site. It will reduce the volume of spam by 30-50% .In return Id like to ask you to put a link to my site on the index page of your site. The link will be small and your visitors will hardly notice it , its just done for higher rankings in search engines. Contact me icq 454528835 or write me tedirectory(at)yahoo.com , i will give you my site url and you will give me yours if you are interested. thank you
Right to the point, Jens.
For a long time, I have considered manually removing the nofollow attribute on comments from people I know, in order to boost my friends pagerank.
I’d love if there could be a setting built into wordpress, that could handle that for me.
On October 21, 2007, 22:38 CEST, Martin said:
You could argue it’s not harmful for the website or search engines, but you cannot argue that it benefits the commentor.
If someone leaves a useful or insightful comment then they should be rewarded. In this case, they get a link to a destination of their choosing. A small price to pay if you ask me.
The situation with nofollow seems to be getting worse - even authority sites that don’t use it are now using internal redirects to avoid linking out. At this rate, only wikipedia and myspace will appear in google’s results ….
Bigger problem of nofollow being unstandardized element is that most webmasters are not aware of it, but mainly people interested in SEO. This means that there is no nofollow reciprocity as it is not implemented equally throughout the web. Luckily, this will change in HTML 5, when nofollow will become a part of the standard, and people will learn about it the same way they learn about target “_blank” value and other common HTML elements.
On September 1, 2008, 13:56 CEST, Messy Designer said:
Agreed, its just a tactic applied by Google, for its advantage. Ive also discussed in my blog as Why and How to remove nofollow from your Wordpress blog.
On April 21, 2010, 9:13 CEST, Mike Jason said:
I do belive too that nofollow if it benefits anyone then it will be search engines algorithms.
However we cannot ignore the fact that they did reduce the spam of blogs not entirely may be but it did reduce it.
But it is quite obvious that the only 100% proven way to beat spam is by human moderating the comments so this way you know which comment or trackback is quality and which is junk spam.
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Perhaps my most comprehensive book: The Web Development Glossary (2020). With explanations and definitions for literally thousands of terms from Web Development and related fields, building on Wikipedia as well as the MDN Web Docs. Available at Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, and Leanpub.