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January 20, 2005 / jnolen

Nofollow considered harmful (at least by me)

I’m sure that everyone and his snake has read about Google’s (and Yahoo’s and Typepad’s) new nofollow initiative by now. I'm sure this will be discussed to death over the next few days, but I wanted to weigh in briefly:

First, as John Battelle says, I’m willing to bet that they haven’t fully examined the consequences of this idea. We’re talking about changing a fairly fundamental piece of our “shared reality.”*

Second, this implementation carves a deeper chasm between the haves and the have-nots. It is now just a bit harder for an unknown voice to be heard. And I don’t think that’s something we want to codify in the code/law of the net.

Andy Wismar argues, and I agree, that this solution is drastic overkill in his post: The Spammers have Won.

On the other hand, I am elated by the way these companies were able to cooperate so quickly. Compare this to the bureaucracies of the IETF or ICANN. It reminds me a little of the way things felt in the mid-’90s. We really do live in a shared ecosystem. Good for these folks for recognizing and trying to make life better for everyone. I just wish they had found a different solution.

* Ed’s note: I can’t find the post in which I found the “shared reality” idea. I know I read it today, but now it’s gone. Apologies for not giving credit.

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