I realize that the going wisdom these days is that rel=nofollow is the righteous thing to do for user-submitted content, and this (awesome) duplicate of ?off is just continuing the trend.
Nonetheless, I think it's worth a revisit.
Reasons For rel=nofollow:
* Supposedly discourages spammers, although they're running automated scripts and usually don't bother checking whether it'll yield pagerank or not. This has to be handled in moderation anyways.
* Discourages link whores from posting meaningless comments.
Reasons Against rel=nofollow
* rel=nofollow is a cheap form of "payment" for participation, and it's reciprocative for those who link here from their pages/blogs/etc. It might marginally moderate more interaction from people who might have focused elsewhere.
* This is a small, relatively tight community, and it's beneficial for the group.
I think rel=nofollow should be removed, or at least "recognized users" should have a URL with no nofollow. Do that and I'll actually link here from my pages.
January 25th, 2006 11:53am
I'm not sure we WANT people linking here from their pages...
January 25th, 2006 12:05pm
Yes, it was kinda cool that ?Off was a "secret forum".
Without any incoming links, though, we'll have to rely on places we link to checking their referrer logs to get new blood -- it was always refreshing when someone else popped their head round the corner, even if we did just shoot them in it. Sure, we don't want to take out Google ads or anything, but the odd nod in this direction will be needed if we're to avoid stagnating...
People often linked to discussion threads from their pages, rather than to the group itself.
I'm not so sure if ?off was really secret - it was right there on every comment submission, and saw quite a few visitors coming through.
January 25th, 2006 12:11pm
The trouble is getting too popular. The place will be ruined. :)
January 25th, 2006 12:11pm
I agree with muppet. New visitors are surely welcome, but I also worry of getting too popular.
Oh, one more thing about nofollow - People like Joel implement nofollow not because they're wise guardians of the commons, but rather because they're selfish twits who basically want it all for themselves.
PageRank to each outgoing link is basically the sum of the incoming links divided by the number of outgoing link (I'm being a bit loose with facts for brevity, but this is fundamentally how it works). If I have 100 incoming links to a unique thread that a community member posted, and imagine they all are equally weighted, and I have 100 outgoing links, then each outgoing link gets the benefit of 1 vote. If you're Joel, that means that links to your other internal pages, to you pimping of DVDs, to your software company, is being "diluted" by the community. Much better, then, to add nofollow on everything but your own posts.
With nofollow you get those 100 incoming links, but the community that created all of the content yields no benefit. Instead you've artificially, and falsely, boosted your own internal links, giving say 50 links back to joelonsoftware.com, which then contributes them to FogCreek.
January 25th, 2006 12:16pm