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Re: Suggestion: 'rel="unrelated"'

From: Bjoern Hoehrmann <derhoermi@gmx.net>
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 01:05:03 +0100
To: Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org>
Cc: www-html@w3.org, dean@w3.org, shellen@google.com, kmarks@technorati.com, tantek@technorati.com
Message-ID: <4216d680.376136484@smtp.bjoern.hoehrmann.de>

* Dan Brickley wrote:
>I welcome the "nofollow" effort because it shows there 
>is willingness from a broad group to work towards 
>making the intent behind hyperlinks a little more 
>evident to computers.

It seems your expectation with respect to implementation of this feature
is different from Mark Birbeck's; my understanding is that Mark expects
publishing tools to provide no way of maintaining this information while
you seem to expect such maintenance, since without it there is not much
"intent" behind rel=nofollow. Could you please clarify whether you con-
sider it a reasonable use of rel=nofollow if all links in the wikipedia,
all links in mails archived at lists.w3.org, etc. always make use of the
feature, even though most links are actually relevant to the content due
to moderation?

My understanding is that spammers hope that the content is unmaintained,
that search engine bots consider the link before it is removed, or that
search engines consider old versions of the content; as such it seems
that there would be no point in keeping rel=nofollow for stuff that is
not considered spam [1]. It might in fact be counter-productive as it
would make it more difficult for search engines to distinguish spam from
other content as many good links would be ignored. Such that search en-
gines might re-consider honoring rel=nofollow at some point.

This mechanism would consequently only make sense if it is properly used
rather than forced upon all third-party content. Well, except if this is
not about blog comment spam but rather blog spam,


May that be as it likes, how this is going to solve the problem of spam
on blog web sites is not yet clear to me. If you consider that spammers
do not send spam mail to improve their google ranking, but rather to
make people visit their web sites, you might well think that spammers
react to rel=nofollow by sending content to blog web sites that fools
people into visiting their web sites instead of sending content that
helps their Google ranking; whether you distribute your spam via mail or
via blog comments does not make much difference in terms of cost after
all and you reach much more people per spam message. As rel=nofollow is
not designed to take such intent into account, I would not be surprised
if people find out that spam and rel=nofollow are actually unrelated in
the longer term.

[1] unless of course you want to link to something but prevent that the
    linked resource gets any benefit from that, e.g. if you have a page
    about foo and link to related pages about foo but fear that this
    might cause the other page to rank higher than your page when people
    search for "foo" -- which is quite questionable use in itself.

And that said, I do not really see much value in this attribute value...
Björn Höhrmann · mailto:bjoern@hoehrmann.de · http://bjoern.hoehrmann.de
Weinh. Str. 22 · Telefon: +49(0)621/4309674 · http://www.bjoernsworld.de
68309 Mannheim · PGP Pub. KeyID: 0xA4357E78 · http://www.websitedev.de/ 
Received on Sunday, 23 January 2005 00:04:54 UTC

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