SEO spammers and Googlemancers.

Dear SEO spammers and Googlemancers: go away. We actively don’t care about your page rank.

(That TechCrunch article is really special: make several errors of fact, assume they come from malice and start a conspiracy theory.)

Our responsibility as a top 10 site is to our readers. Our responsibility is not to a third party (search engine optimisers) to make them look good to a fourth party (Google). People whose interest in Wikipedia is page rank are in no way, shape or form our constituency. Because their interest is, fundamentally, spamming.

Pagerank is not a consideration for Wikipedia — it contributes nothing to the project of writing an encyclopedia. This is why SEOs and Googlemancers find it so hard to find anyone at Wikipedia or Wikimedia who cares.

The interwiki map is for the convenience of the projects. Not for the SEO spammers.

10 thoughts on “SEO spammers and Googlemancers.”

  1. I agree that interwiki-links are purely a convenience for wikipedia editors, and that we should not support Googlemancers. But the techcrunch article does have a point: If external links get a nofollow flag, and interwiki-links don’t, being in wikipedia’s interwiki table becomes a valuable asset – something people would actually pay money for. So, we should be restrictive about who gets on (especially regarding commercial sites), and we should have a proper and transparent process for applying for that.

    Alternatively, the nofollow flag should also be set for interwiki links, unless the interwiki-entry has the iw_internal bit set. That way, having an interwiki-prefix to one’s site means nothing special any more, and the prefix would once more be just a convenience.

  2. Brion’s already rejected the second solution. The point of nofollow is if the links can be trusted not to spam. In practice, we don’t get interwiki link spam; in practice, turning on nofollow on the English Wikipedia (last of all the Wikimedia wikis to have it turned on) immediately cut the link spam tremendously.

    As for the first, the process is a bit of discussion on [[m:Talk:Interwiki map]] and a meta admin deciding yes, this could be useful to the projects. Which is really the only question to ask.

    I find the idea of making project changes for the benefit of noisy spammers with blogs … ill-conceived.

  3. Sorry, how can you trust a commercial wiki provider to be free of spam?

    What are the factual errors in the Techcrunch article?

  4. You can’t, but I assume it’s done on a practical basis. Note “In practice …” If a pile of spam were to show up from one, I assume it would be dealt with in a suitably conclusive manner.

    The article has been edited since first being posted. Remaining factual errors (despite supplied corrections):

    * “Wikia, Wikipedia’s for-profit spin off.”
    * “Specifically since there is an apparent conflict of interest with Wikia, something that you would think that the Wikia team would want to avoid.” – they have nothing to do with Wikimedia.

    That’s it, but the whole thing riffs off that. They were also noticeably selective in the comments they let through – mine and others’ were in the queue quite some time while spammers and Googlemancers got through.

    And of course, they couldn’t, uh, ask for comment first.

  5. Sorry, it is just not true that Wikia has nothing to do with Wikimedia.

    The company was founded by Wikimedia board members, Wikipedia administrators are recruited to work for Wikia, Wikia pays MediaWiki developers, the Wikimania is organized by a Wikia employee. Wikia has a lot to do with Wikimedia.

    When accept this as a fact, you can see a *possible* conflict of interest.

  6. I see valid points on both sides…I cannot make up my mind on this issue. As you say, dropping nofollow puts Wikipedia under tremendous pressure from hoards of linkspammers. On the other hand, this makes the InterWiki Map look like favoritism, unless we can establish specific rules for inclusion.

    I find myself flip-flopping the more I think about this issue. I am used to being a fairly opinionated person so indecision is frustrating for me! :)

    P.S. – Thank you for your help on the InterWiki Map. It is appreciated.

  7. Tor: I can see it as a possible conflict of interest.

    Note also, if we are to consider page rank: the interwiki map is also an effective way of favouring free content. Which, um, everything on Wikia is.

    The only question that should ever be asked about a prospective listing on the interwiki map is: is including a wiki useful for the projects?

  8. To clarify: I’m not proposing to make “project changes for the benefit of noisy spammers” – quite the contrary. What I have to say goes to their disadvantage.

    My point is that we should be aware that being in Wikipedia’s interwiki-map has become a desirable reward the community can give to a website. Interwiki-prefixes used to be just a bit of syntactic sugar to save some typing. But because of Wikipedia’s high Google rank, and the nofollow flag on “normal” external links, it has become much more, like it or not.

    The only way to change this back would be to treat all external links the same, with or without interwiki-prefix. The alternative is to treat interwiki-prefixes as what they have de-factor become: an expression of (limited) endorsement (at least in the sense of “this site is not complete crap”).

  9. “Note also, if we are to consider page rank: the interwiki map is also an effective way of favouring free content.”

    If you want to favour free content, just say so. But it must be a transparent process. It is not yet. There were legitimate questions and wrong answers. Wikia does not get special treatment for their incredibly effective spam protection.

    That leads to further conclusions. The nofollow-policy had very little effect on spam in Wikipedia (it was on the mailing list). But now it is possible to favour certain sites and companies.

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