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Re: rel="nofollow" attribute: syntax vs. semantics

From: fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 16:40:44 -0500
Message-ID: <41F176DC.2090109@inkedblade.net>
To: www-html@w3.org
CC: commentspam@google.com

Mark Birbeck wrote:

> As I keep saying, all that is on the table here is a way for Google to stop
> crawling -- it's Google that doesn't endorse the link, not me.

Here is a perfect example of the misunderstanding that poorly-chosen syntax
can cause. rel="nofollow" has *nothing* to do with an instruction to "not
follow" the link, as you can see by a careful reading of the Technorati spec
draft. [1]

Yes, it's just a string. We can assign any arbitrary meaning to it. But
assigning the semantics of red to the string "green" is just going to cause
confusion.

Take a look through this thread -- see how many people think "nofollow" means
"don't follow". Even the original post from Google's blog fails to make a
clear distinction. [2] And this is a relatively well-informed and spec-aware
segment of the web authoring population.

If the search engine / blogging groups agree that adding a rel value is the
best approach, they should choose syntax that reflects the appropriate and
*intended* semantics. Lachlan's suggestion of "unendorsed" to me seems the
most reasonable so far. [3]

~fantasai

[1] http://developers.technorati.com/wiki/RelNoFollow
[2] http://www.google.com/googleblog/2005/01/preventing-comment-spam.html
      particularly "Should I put rel="nofollow" on the link to my comments page?"
[3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-html/2005Jan/0057.html

Discussion thread:
   http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-html/2005Jan/thread.html#37


~fantasai
Received on Friday, 21 January 2005 21:40:48 GMT

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