news and thoughts on and around the development
of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg
posted: Jan 19, 2005 3:17:00 PM
Following on my last post, Comment spam rules / I pity the fools!, I notice that Robert Scoble and Tim Bray are already suggesting uses for rel="nofollow" links that have nothing to do with comment spam. These uses are not simply saying:
"I'm not making this link as a real connection between my site and this other",
but are saying something more like:
"I'm making this link as a real connection between my site and this other, but the connection is expressing something negative about the other site".
I imagine the difference between these two intentions, expressed only as "nofollow" will be mostly disadvantageous to making search engines better. In other words, it's good that search engines show results that express that latter—there is a real, important, connection (a "follow") being made in the latter example.
I guess search engines can use rel="nofollow" as a hint from which to infer one of those two meanings (and others that will come to be), but that seems to me to suggest that we might as well have some more explicit values to use in rel tags, e.g., noconnection, hate, love, vague, etc.
Of course, I assume Google really doesn't need these: Google's strengths are in the way it utilizes the human language in and around the link text and title. So, if you make a link like this:
<a href="http://example.com" title="bad crappy service">Example makes the worst products ever</a>
Google is going to be able to make way more use of that then a "nofollow" without the more narrative text.
I'm way into link semantics (which is why I'm bothering to write about this), and think it is a good thing to be able to express lots of intentions and/or nuances in the act of linking, with options for both less or more meaning than Google (and Technorati and link aggregators in general) currently see in links.
But, I think the "nofollow" concept is moving the link semantic into the wrong domain, i.e., it's addition requires that we take our intentions and express them in terms of the concept of turning off a computer switch, rather than express them in terms of our direct human-intentions, i.e., human language terms like: look, this is good; look, this is bad; we love them; we hate them, etc.
Of course, a computer adding "nofollow" automatically (e.g., to a comment spam) is more naturally compatible with the computer switch concept. But, I think this then devalues links altogether on the web, because they are then even less reflective of human intentions and attention: is it a merely mechanical or human-intentional indication of "nofollow", and why? We'll never know (and links will become less indicative of any kind of human perception of "rank").
Comment by: Christopher Baus · http://www.baus.net/
posted: Jan 20, 2005 8:14:02 PM
Interesting post. I think we are headed down a bad street here. It will be intersesting to see how this actually play out. Just because something is negative doesn't mean it isn't relavant.
Something could be negative AND relavent.
I wonder how many people will actually employ the "no follow"?
Note: All comments and trackbacks are moderated. Spam is deleted. Other comments are approved as promptly as possible.
Note: Older posts no longer accept new comments or trackbacks.
2006: jan · feb · mar · apr may · jun · jul · aug sep · oct · nov · dec 2005: jan · feb · mar · apr may · jun · jul · aug sep · oct · nov · dec 2004: jan · feb · mar · apr may · jun · jul · aug sep · oct · nov · dec 2003: may · jun · jul · aug sep · oct · nov · dec first post: April 30, 2003 highlight views: Spammers' Choice
Jay elsewhere online
Jay Fienberg - the official home page
Wrong Notes - the music blog of the Ear Reverends
Fine & Full, aka, a fine and full burger
Sociomobilepoetextologia (moblog, currently inactive due to lack of proper mobile)
to enjoy roll
sites I like to read when I start from here
· Anastasia Fuller
· Andy Baio
· Biz Stone
· Boris Mann
· Bre Pettis
· Chris Dent
· Danny Ayers
· Dare Obasanjo
· David Czarnecki
· David Weinberger
· Don Park
· Evan Williams
· Greg Narain
· Jason Kottke
· Jim Benson
· Lucas Gonze
· Marc Canter
· Matt May
· Matt Mullenweg
· Michal Migurski
· Nancy White
· Rebecca Blood
· Reg Cheramy
· Richard MacManus
· Sam Ruby
· Shelley Powers
· Tim Bray
· danah boyd