Blog » Post

Nofollow WordPress systemantics

I am furious at WordPress right now, with my fury being somewhat tempered only by the great WordPress community that already has a complete fix for the WordPress "feature" that I find so abhorrent. (OK, trying to hold back a long rant and make this brief.)

So, there's this dumb, but successfully marketed idea from 2005, to encourage web technologists to use a non-standard bit of HTML, known as a rel nofollow to make the web a better place through some Google magic. (Follow that link to Wikipedia to get a bit fuller explanation.) And, as I soon as I heard about it, I publicly stated that I thought it was a bad idea, that I'd never use nofollow, and that I really wanted people to know that nofollow is a really bad idea, etc.

One of my concerns about nofollow was that blog and web CMS tool makers were adding support nofollow as being "on" by default. So, now, 2+ years later, it turns out that millions of web pages are using nofollow unintentionally. And, now we know that nofollow isn't effective because nofollow doesn't work and, pretty much, nofollow must be stopped.

Oh, and Google, the creator of nofollow, is also now interpreting nofollow as indicating paid links, which means the nofollow's you have on your site are most likely expressing a meaning drastically different than what you intend.

So, starting recently, as I left comments on my friends' blogs, I peeked to see if they were using nofollow. Seeing that many of them were, I started to prepare a plea to these individuals to fix their blogs. But, it didn't occur to me until the other day to look at the generated code on this blog—surely WordPress, the "state-of-the-art semantic personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability" would never force the dated, semantically-poor, ugly, non-standard and user-hostile nofollow on one of my web pages.

But, to my shock and horror I saw that all of the links in our Juxtaprose blog comments were looking something like this:

<a href="" rel="external nofollow">Jay Fienberg</a>

(Note: that the rel="external" in there is also semantically screwy, as I am linking internally to this site!)

So, just fyi for people who write code: when I created the WordPress templates for this blog, I made sure that there were no nofollows in there. WordPress is adding in nofollows from a deeper, "invisible," logic layer in the code. The nofollows aren't in the presentation layer or in the (meta) data layer that I see when personalizing my blog. (This is a good example of what I like to call semantic web systemantics.)

Anyway, to make a long story short, I now have installed the perfectly functional DoFollow plugin for WordPress. And, thanks to that, there are no more nofollows on this site, and I'm not going to have much lasting fury at WordPress.

But, if you have a WordPress site that we've built for you, and want us to install the DoFollow plugin, just let me know. I feel terrible that I unknowingly allowed nofollow to appear on your site, and will gladly help you get rid of it!

Blog Archives

Next post: Online quiz launched: are you a cat person?

Prev post: How to Finish The Damn Thing