The Wikipedia Mailing List is discussing a fascinating point. Why aren’t Wikia links restricted under no-follow?
For that matter, why are all the arbitrarily favored sites on the interwiki map benefitting from Wikipedia’s stellar PageRank?
Nik Cubrilovic covered this conflict-of-interest story for TechCrunch yesterday, spreading the news to 100,000’s of TechCrunch readers. Time to carefully consider this policy.
Who Profits from the InterWiki Map?
A PageRank 8 link from Wikipedia is SEO Gold. Wikipedia is one of the highest PageRank sites on the internet; a direct link can give your site a tremendous boost in search engine rankings. Recognizing the value of these links, MediaWiki software automatically adds “nofollow” to outgoing links in an effort to discourage linkspamming.
Only sites on the InterWiki Map receive PageRank from Wikipedia.
If your Interwiki site is for-profit like Wikia, receiving 100’s of PR8 links from Wikipedia, this translates into thousands of dollars of increased ad revenue, as well as a competitive traffic advantage over every non-interwiki site.
Can Anyone Explain the Logic of the InterWiki Map?
So there are huge monetary and traffic advantages to being included in the InterWiki map. So the map must be a pretty exclusive list, right?
Look at the completely arbitrary hodgepodge of sites allowed on the interwiki map. First of all, there are a large number of for-profit sites commercially benefitting from this PageRank gold; sites like WikiTravel, the Cellphone Wiki, and Comixpedia.
Next we have for-profit sites like Del.icio.us which is not even a wiki! Whatever happened to never commoditizing Wikipedia?
The map is dominated by a dozen Wikia sites, including Wikifur, a site dedicated to people who have sex in animal costumes.
Presumably the sole stated purpose of the InterWiki map is to allow people an easier syntax for linking to useful sites. But who needs a faster way to link to the New Paltz, NY Community Town Wiki? Or a wiki devoted to the middle earth game of Wurm?
Why the InterWiki Map is Arbitrary and Unfair
Case in point.
Yet it seems clear that potentially thousands of Wikipedia pages could relevantly interlink with thousands of ValueWiki pages. ValueWiki contains many articles on publicly traded companies that simply don’t exist on Wikipedia.
But presumably, it is more important to include the for-profit Doom Wiki on the InterWiki Map, for all the Wikipedians who need to quickly link to a wiki about a PC game from 1993.
To give a sense of the power Wikipedia’s PageRank 8 confers on ad sites like Doom Wiki, consider that of ValueWiki’s 23,801 inlinks, the highest PageRank inlink is a 6. This is how rare a PR 8 site is.
Add NoFollow to the InterWiki Map, or Delete the InterWiki Map Altogether
This list is arbitrary favoritism. It commoditizes Wikipedia, and provides an unfair competitive advantage to a number of for-profit sites. It is also deeply unclear the InterWiki map saves anyone much time when writing links. I can understand shortcuts for Wikipedia’s sister projects, but I find it hard to believe many Wikipedian Canyon-enthusiasts have memorized the syntax for linking to CanyonWiki.
The Map provides no explanation or criteria for why ValueWiki is excluded from the list. But more importantly, it provides no explanation for why dozens of arbitrary sites are included in the list. I refuse to believe that Nazis who have sex in animal costumes are more relevant than ValueWiki.