Removing Nofollow, Removing Spam
For most of the past decade, the site has been adding the “nofollow” attribute to links submitted along with articles. This was to discourage spamming – though it doesn’t seem to have discouraged it, because the pages rank high enough that spammers don’t care. (Leaving the old URL even when the article is hidden is probably another reason. They should probably be “404”d and require a visit to hidden.php.)
I’m mulling over removing the nofollow from articles classified as “local”, meaning that the collective may have decided the article is both local, and of high enough quality, to merit being put into the “slow newswire”. This way, “good” articles can send some pagerank juice from the site to another page. This is like a “gift” to the other site.
I’m also mulling over removing spammers. The people who spam multiple indymedia sites are harming the entire network, and they aren’t helping themselves, either. I was looking up the search results for some of these spammers, and shocked to find that they have, maybe, 10 pages of search results.
The shock isn’t that they have so many results, but that they have so few. They post several times a week, for years, so they should have hundreds of search results. They don’t. I think that Google is finding one of these pages, making it the canonical page, and removing all other links to similar pages. They may be blocking the content entirely, as well.
Ultimately, they harm the site, so I need to remove them. There is some balance required, though. We don’t want to trample on peoples’ right to express themselves.
There’s also reposting. Complete copies of articles were purged many years ago. We did this because these are copyright violations, and created a kind of exposure to shutdowns that was just too great. Additionally, reposts were pushing new, original content down the newswire too fast, and making the site feel like the LA Times.
Today, of course, we have the opposite problem, with too little content, but that’s a whole other problem.
Repostings still happen, and they need to be moderated away. I don’t see them helping the site at all. Linking out to legit articles, on the other hand, I think, is a good thing. Adding original commentary is a good thing. Both these things help the readers, and the site.