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Do you recommend using the rel=nofollow tag on links that are member-submitted, such as from a blog or forum?

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Last Post by sarahk
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My opinion is no. Crap links should be weeded out by human editors / moderators.

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But human editors are ... well ... human. Sometimes we don't catch everything or we don't catch it fast enough. And what if a spam member links to a bad neighborhood or lots of off-topic links? What if they do this in their signature and the link is suddenly and diabolically spread throughout your otherwise squeaky clean site? Especially on very large forums, once a thread falls off of page 1, it most likely isn't going to be respidered more than once (or twice if you're lucky).

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There's quite a debate about this currently going on. I'm aware of one SEO forum that did it and they quickly lost most of their heavy hitters. I don't think they left because they didn't want to lose the links. I think it was more that they didn't agree with the concept. I do think however that if you don't have the personel to monitor the posts that it's difficult to stop the spammers. So it's your call I guess. One way to do it is to raise the number of post that a member must make before use the sig link. Then if they post junk just to get there you can weed em out before they reach the number. In most of the forums that I frequent, any spam draws attention like flies to a horse barn, and the posters either straighten up or are history. Most forum software gives you the option to not only ban, but to delete all or some of the posts from a particular user.

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In my opinion SEs dont even give much weight to links inside posts/signatures any more let alone ban a website because of them.

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Not true :) Get a link within a front page article on a high profile site and then try and say that links within articles don't do much :) On the contrary, it's these types of links that Google was designed to thrive on ... not little text links in sidebars and footers that are just there because people bought them.

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Links from the Forums do count and are worth the efforts to be a member.

Google started to discount bought links or text ads which people buy for their websites.

It now prefers natural links..

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Google has always preferred and emphasized natural links. Link buying is just a practice to get around google's algorithm. Google has always taken efforts to counteract it.

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Do you recommend using the rel=nofollow tag on links that are member-submitted, such as from a blog or forum?

I think I read somewhere that you actually loose a little bit of your PageRank for every "regular" link you make. So I would say, yes, use a rel=nofollow on all links that you don't personally approve. (Most people wouldn't even know, and those who post to raise their PageRank are probably spammers).

I can show you a popular blog that gets 1000's of spam comments per posting because it does not use a nofollow.

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It's not that you lose your pagerank. Here's what happens. Suppose a particular page has a PR 6. As a PR 6, it carries a certain amount of weight. Depending upon how much weight a page has, it has influence over the weights of all the pages it links to. However, it only has a certain amount of weight it is capable of spreading, dependant upon its PR. The more pages it links to, the less of a piece of the PR pie each link gets.

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It's not that you lose your pagerank. Here's what happens. Suppose a particular page has a PR 6. As a PR 6, it carries a certain amount of weight. Depending upon how much weight a page has, it has influence over the weights of all the pages it links to. However, it only has a certain amount of weight it is capable of spreading, dependant upon its PR. The more pages it links to, the less of a piece of the PR pie each link gets.

Well, I still think I'm partly right. There is also the whole issue of "linking to bad neighborhoods", just search Google for that phrase and you'll find a whole bunch of horror stories. Basically, Google can remove ALL of your PageRank if you so much as link to a site that they found spammy. Obviously this is a problem on forums and blogs where people link YOU to themselves.

I think the benifits definatelly outweigh the risks. I don't think anyone realistically is going to go to your Forums, view source, then see "rel=nofollow" and say "Oh they use nofollow, I'm not going to post here!". And those who do are probably not the type of contributors you want anyway. Nofollow is stealthy and wonderful :twisted:

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(Most people wouldn't even know, and those who post to raise their PageRank are probably spammers).

That's an interesting take. I subscribe to a number of forums and post to a) refine my skills; b) see what people are having problems with that is not covered elsewhere and write a blog comment on it; and c) to gain links. I can see that I could be spamming, but I can also see that people benefit from my contribution.

Now, there are a huge number of tech forums and daniweb just happens to have my support right now, but since you use nofollow on sig links I have to question whether that decision is appropriate.

I can show you a popular blog that gets 1000's of spam comments per posting because it does not use a nofollow.

That blog gets spammed because they don't have appropriate controls in place (eg Akismet, spam karma). I have spammers who spam me continuously even though they can see that their previous comments have gone nowhere. Intelligence is not their strong point.

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I don't use rel=nofollow to "punish" people who contribute to the site, or to not give them what they deserve. However, in a community with over 60,000 members, all with the ability to link within posts or put anything within their signatures 24/7, I need to be able to protect myself from inadvertant linking to bad neighborhoods which could go so far as to get DaniWeb banned.

Besides, I want people to want to post on DaniWeb because they enjoy our community, not because they just want the free backlinks. The latter might get lots of posts but it certainly won't form a solid, growing community of members who genuinely enjoy interacting and learning from each other.

Rel=nofollow is what it is ... We're not saying "Don't under any circumstances acknowledge this site" ... It's a way of us to tell the search engines "Hey, the webmaster didn't post this link - the site can't vouch for it". It's up to each individual search engine to decide what they want to do with that information. Rel=nofollow evolved as blogging became more and more popular and more and more links on the 'net got posted by site surfers and not site webmasters. Rel=nofollow is simply the search engine's way of allowing us to help them differentiate between the two.

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Rel=nofollow is what it is ... We're not saying "Don't under any circumstances acknowledge this site" ... It's a way of us to tell the search engines "Hey, the webmaster didn't post this link - the site can't vouch for it". It's up to each individual search engine to decide what they want to do with that information.

That sounds great in theory, however it's not my understanding that the SE's interpret it that way.

You are right that it's your call and your way to control the outbound links so that only "authorised" links get through. As such each webmaster and site owner must make their own business decisions.

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We never know what the search engines are thinking, nor can we predict their ranking algorithms. It's for that reason why I am typing to you from a hotel room at the Search Engine Strategies convention :)

Regardless, what I wrote in my last post is what the search engines developed and designed the rel=nofollow to mean. Like I said, it's up to each search engine to decide what it wants to do with that information. The same way it is up to each search engine to decide how to calculate the weight of ANY link.

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It's for that reason why I am typing to you from a hotel room at the Search Engine Strategies convention

Oh, lucky you. The joys of being in the USA. Airfares and travelling time (ie extra days away from family & work) make attending those conferences prohibitive right now. One day...

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A thought about signatures. A forum is a discussion arena between both the curious and the specialists. A signature should exist with every forum posting in order to give the forum reader an opportunity to examine more about the curious or the specialist.

When someone initiates a new thread, it naturally has no PR value. It is new. People that use their signatures in forums in hopes of leaping to the top of the SERPs are mislead by their own thinking.

A signature is like an accreditation, to give the writer's comments more validity. There's nothing more frustrating than reading a thought provoking post and wanting to find out more about the writer and his / her thoughts but can't find them.

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When someone initiates a new thread, it naturally has no PR value.

and therefore no PR to lose.

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