Drupal.org possibly over using nofollow attribute

I know I missed the initial discussion when the 'rel=nofollow' attribute was attached to all 'Filtered HTML' content by turning on the 'Spam link deterrent' function, but I believe using the nofollow attribute on all these posts is detrimental to Drupal.org. It is true that link spam is always an issue for major sites, but the current solution is not fairly applied and is detrimental to search engine results.

First, when most links are marked as nofollow, the true internal (or organic) structure of the site is discounted, and the programmatic menu links are the only form of organization. Secondly, the users that have access to the 'Full HTML'filter don’t get their links marked, while the rest of us are marked as nofollow, which seems less than fully equitable. I am only bringing this up since I believe it may impact the future growth of Drupal.org, even if just a little bit.

We all know that links are valuable for both driving traffic and for site rankings, but for internal links, they also help determine where the important content is on the site. The note for the 'Spam Link Deterrent' is 'Note: this will also prevent valid links from being followed by search engines, …', and a little search engine research shows that this is exactly what is happening. Since so many internal links that point to projects, themes, groups or other useful forum topics and comments are not being marked as significant in the search results, some projects and themes are not floating to the top of the search engines because of the lack of followed links.

This messes with the search results that are being since in the search engines. All the internal links in forum posts and comments, which represents real people acknowledging the value of a project, are ignored. Thus when a module is mentioned often in posts, it is not noticed by the search engines as being more important.

Also, it seems that the application of the Spam Link Deterrent is not equally applied.

Currently, of the last 15 articles hitting the front page here is a summary:
1. DrupalCon sessions announcements, NOFOLLOW
2. DrupalCon sponsorship announcement, NOFOLLOW
3. New Theme Engine Module, normal links
4. D6 RC2 Announcement, normal links
5. GHOP Update, normal links
6. DrupalCon initial announcement, normal links
7. Predictions, NOFOLLOW
8. Association announcement, normal links
9. Association Electinos, normal links
10. D6 RC1, Normal links
11. Acquia announcement, NOFOLLOW
12. Drupal 6 Book announcement, NOFOLLOW
13. GHOP midterm update, NOFOLLOW
14. Sun Donation, normal links
15. D6 Beta 4 announcement, normal links

One GHOP article is nofollowed, but another isn't. Some Drupal Association announcements are nofollowed, and some are not. Obviously this is a function of the 'Full HTML' or similar filter that the power users use, with 'Spam link deterrent' being applied to all 'Filtered HTML' posts. But this is not equitable, since the author of a post, module or comments is not a good indicator on if the link should be followed or not. Why should the 100 users that can use Full HTML be the only people who have links that are followed by the search engines. I know of many articlces, case studies and how-to’s that are penned by normal users, which should not be marked as nofollowed.

Lastly, marking all 'normal' forum posts and comments as 'nofollow' discourages self promoters from offering write-ups, case studies, and other how to articles on Drupal.org. Some good articles are written which include links to the sponsoring site. This is a known form of compensation, which is negated with the nofollow link.

Since most sponsorships of modules are marked as nofollowed (unless you have 'Full HTML' privileges, which is not fairly applied). The link on the module page sometimes the only form of compensation for taking the time to make a custom site module general enough to submit back to the Drupal community. Why take the time to polish a module enough to submit if the sponsor link is nofollowed? Altruism is a good motivator, but helping self promoters long term helps OS projects just as much.

Again, that is just a conversation starter on why we should remove the spam link deterrent from the Filtered HTML Input Filter.

It really all boils down to

It really all boils down to the fact that those 100 people have proven they're not going to spam the site. It takes time, people, and effort to give the NOFOLLOW option, which isn't even granted to anyone that asks. Moreover, NOFOLLOW isn't something you ask for per-se, it's a by product of having earned your way on to something like the documentation team.

I just happen to have an

I just happen to have an over-the-top rant against nofollow:

rel = nofollow is senseless, stupid, and against the way of the web.

Basic premise: using it on community-driven sites tilts the search engine landscape in favor of corporate (top-down) "controlled" and against people-contributed content, and shows disrespect for your users.

This is in general and not d.o-specific. It's from an instant message chat but I think it's coherent. Y'know you want to read it.

The other part of my

The other part of my argument is that nofollow isn't an effective spam link deterrent but I don't have any actual data to back this up, except of course that people spam anyway.

On the equity issue, I bet that it is probably news for people with full HTML access that this posts without nofollow-- your distribution of posts with and without seems to indicate that people with this permission are choosing it based on what input format they need, not nofollow settings.

Yeah, I've had access to

Yeah, I've had access to full HTML for a long time and I never noticed that it didn't have nofollow on the links.

I don't think the help text on that is right, though. My understanding is that Google _will_ follow the links but will not pass PR onto those pages. I don't think it's hurting d.o any... They have PR up the wazoo. :)

Michelle

Drupal.org is nice fat

Drupal.org is nice fat target for spamdexers. I would say that "nofollow" policy is a must for non-proven user posts.

On the other hand, I totally agree with all said regarding negative aspects of the nofollow.

What Drupal community needs is reliable method to prove that user is well behaved and to disable the filter that inserts nofollow into links for such users.
Majority of people on drupal.org fall into this category and therefore, instead just handful, we would have almost whole community building inter-linked content accessible for search engines.

Maybe a simple policy that

Maybe a simple policy that if a page is promoted to the frontpage, then use the Full HTML filter, since those are quality posts.

Yes it is true that PR is high and that the links are followed (rel=noindex would kill a page from the index), but the links in the frontpage aren't given proper weight as they ought to by the engines to the content they link to. If an case study gives citation to specific high quality modules and themes/themers, but is marked nofollow, the engines won't know that that module is of high quality.

And my note of things not being equitable, was not to mean that all users are equal, but that all front page posts are in sense, and thus should all have the nofollow turned off.