matrix_jan - 3:42 am on Jan 15, 2012 (gmt 0)
nofollow is explicitly not a citation
That depends. An unlinked citation in forums, or in a comment, or in youtube video descriptions, or in million other places will automatically transform into a nofollow link. Now from what you say it turns out that example.com is better than <a href="example.com" rel="nofollow">example.com</a>. Personally I think that this in no way can be. For me the later is a handy version of the first, if you refer to it you expect people to follow (people, not robots).
From above I see people bringing examples of webpages that rank well thanks to nofollow link. I'll bring an even better one:
One of the websites I manage contains 99% duplicate content. Duplicate, not stolen. From day one I've managed that website, and never build any links. All the links are nofollow, mainly from facebook, youtube, and forums. And guess what? I's on the same level as websites with 20K+ links for 2 years.