Secondly, this sucks a fair amount of steam out of my snark-attack yesterday.
With Apologies to Furries and Doom Fans and Other Wikis
I stepped on a few furry toes yesterday with Time to Abolish or Overhaul the InterWiki Map. While folks seemed to mildly accept the logic of my argument, there was a fair amount of eyeball-rolling over my method of expression. Consensus was there are better ways to make my point than arguing that other wikis are just as irrelevant as ValueWiki! Suffice it to say, Wikifur is a very active and civil community, very little of which seems to have anything to do with having sex or being a Nazi.
That said, I am extremely pleased to see the topical discussion generated. Sadly, nothing drives traffic like controversy. My more civil posts often seem to generate far less interest.
The Logic of the InterWiki Map
Yesterday I noted that the stated purpose of the Interwiki Map was to create a faster link syntax for editors. Based on this assumption, I argued that InterWiki Map inclusion was arbitrary because it seemed to unlikely that any Wikipedians would find it time-saving to type:
Zach suggests I take a different approach to understanding the InterWiki Map. He says I should think of the InterWiki Map as a way for the MediaWiki community to agree on trusted sites that can remove the protection of “nofollow”. If Wikia provides the best source of information on Doom II, and the MediaWiki community agrees Doom Wiki is a trusted site, why shouldn’t the community agree to confer PageRank authority?
This is a nuanced issue and I’m still in the process of sorting out where I stand. In all fairness, ValueWiki runs ads and stands to profit from any PageRank the InterWiki Mapping confers.
As I noted yesterday, some InterWiki Map requests are immediately approved, some are rejected, and some languish for months. Perhaps my angsty post yesterday is really a call for a clearer criteria for InterWiki Map inclusion. This would do much to dispell TechCrunch’s insinuations of Wikia nepotism.
Why Google PageRank is Important to Wikipedia
David Gerard has a funny open letter to SEO-spammers and Googlemancers in which he fairly sums up the Wikipedian spirit. Part of my fondness for Wikipedia comes from Wikipedia’s aura of incorruptibility; refusing to run ads or bow to the pressures of SEO. I take David’s point and whole-heartedly agree with the spirit of his argument.
That said, I wouldn’t be a Wikipedian if I didn’t find a way to split hairs over nuance. Google was very important to Wikipedia’s early development, and continues to drive new users to the site. Here’s Jimmy Wales contributing to Wikipedia:What Google Liked back in 2001, and encouraging other users to Be Bold in updating the list. Here’s Jimbo editing the Aria Giovanni Penthouse Pet article in 2001, and writing in the edit comments, “I wonder if Google will like this page…” Getting Slashdotted was a pivotal moment in Wikipedia’s early history; the ensuing traffic is credited with fueling Wikipedia’s momentum. To this day, Wikipedia’s high page rank continues to drive new users and fuel growth and relevancy.
Part of Wikipedia’s stellar PageRank is due to “nofollow.” Picture all of the internet links as a series of tubes. Pouring water into the tubes is a way of visualizing PageRank. Sites with tons of inlinks and no outlinks end up with a lot of water. Sites with PageRank 8 “tubes” flowing into them get a lot more water than sites with PageRank 1 tubes. In fact, it is logarithmicly higher. Granted it’s a clumsy analogy, but I suspect Wikipedia’s internet prominence owes a bit to its “nofollow” policy.
Apologies again to Wikifur. I am very much enjoying the discussion on the Wikipedia List right now. Very interesting to hear all opinions.