pageoneresults - 5:40 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)
1. Whether to change at all, or not.
Based on the responses to date, I'd say there was enough feedback to make some changes in the WebmasterWorld linking policies.
2. Change what
I'd say it is an all or nothing proposition. The logistics have to be far more challenging if you start cherry picking which are allowed.
3. How to introduce the change
I think one option would be to choose a highly trafficked forum and perform alpha/beta testing there. Instead of links, I propose http references only, no hyperlink. I really think that diminishes most incentive. But then you have the whole URI Discovery thing.
If that is a concern, which I'm sure it is, then it comes down to running all links through a script which appears to be a common approach to this.
The introduction of http references is something that is earned and not given. There needs to be a post threshold before the feature becomes available and maybe even a per user threshold.
Whatever WebmasterWorld decides to do in this instance, I do hope it will take the lesser voices here and take that feedback to heart.
Absolutely no signature links, period! You have a profile, use it to your advantage. It will outperform signature links any day.
The one major challenge I see are the help me topics. Those may become an uphill battle. There are enough of them now and if http references are allowed, they may increase. There will definitely need to be restrictions in place and it may come down to a per forum level. Some fora are just going to attract the type of person who wants to buck the system. ;)
I'd support a Report Spam function also. If enough members Report Spam, the reply is nixed from public view. Mods/Admins can then clean up later. I've seen it in action and it works like a charm.