tradewinds - 5:47 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)
willyb: I was referring to the intrinsic value of the links themselves. In the example I posted, it was about branding and initial exposure traffic from forum signature links. In this case retention of visitors and gaining a permanent audience would be critical as both direct traffic and SEO benefits would be low.
pageoneresults: I'll use forums as an example again. A decade ago, dropping viagra and gambling links were considered spam, but being a reasonable contributor and occasionally including external links to relevant websites was no reason to be banned. Today, it's all about intent and you could have the potential to become a captivating and authoritative figure in a forum, but you still won't be getting those links to your related website. I'd like to emphasize that this example isn't about backlink building for SEO; it's about being denied even a relatively small reward in the forum of nofollow signature links if only for the exposure to a resource that you know will keep visitors coming back for more.