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IF Link Dropping IS Allowed Then Articulate Your Link Dropping Policy

What policy will produce the desired outcome of allowing URL drops?

     
5:12 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Should link dropping be a free-for-all? Would drive-by link dropping by WebmasterWorld noobs be okay with you? How many flavors of self-promotional posts do you want to weed through looking for honest engagement or useful, actionable info?

You know the reality. Left unregulated link dropping begets a Spam-O-Rama destination. If that's not your vision then how would you regulate the practice?

Please attempt to define the terms and conditions that you think will produce the "desired outcome of link dropping".

I'm not going to argue for or against any specific proposal.

I leave that up to you all. ;)
5:28 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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A simple rule (forced by the software) like links allowed after ten posts effectively kills all spammers in my experience.
6:13 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Make links nofollow and use a redirect script that's blocked by robots.txt. Kill the major incentive for auto spammers.

Also make a persons first 10 posts moderated with no links allowed.


The whole point is to make the links worthless for ranking but worthwhile for the discussion.
6:33 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Gee, that sounds reasonable.
What, 10 a day, 10 a week, 10 a month, 10 a year or just 10?
6:48 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Even just one kills all automated spam attempts!
7:06 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I don't quite understand the problem here. There is only one rule necessary:

Does a link add value to the discussion then leave it, else kill it.

A threshold of 10-50 post could be considered to scare off the too obvious self promotors. Those guys who drop in, register, ask a question and then suprise, surprise another guy with a post count of one comes by and links to a solution.

But there should not be any rules excluding links to blogs, tweets, wikis or any other resources. And it should not matter if the link goes to a company website, a newswebsite or a youtube video.

Only the value of the linked information should count.

I remember someone asking a legal question once about product warranties in the European Union. So I wrote a short answer and pointed him to the European Union Directive and a website that gave detailed insight and explained the details and practial applications of the directive. The link was deleted because the information was on the website of a consulting company. So what? Of course it was - where else would you find this information?

Another link was deleted because it went to a guy using a blogging software. We do not allow links to blogs. It probably could have been Einstein blogging out his theory of relativity for the first time, would have been deleted anyway because instead of getting through the trouble of setting up a proper Web 1.0 website he decided to concentrate on the content and simple open a wordpress account.

If someone tweeted the discovery of the millenium, the formula of the theory of everything - here at webmasterworld we would not notice, we do not link to tweets.

So: Does the link in anyway bring value to the discussion then leave it wherever it leads too. And to define if a link adds value, feel free to use Justice Potter Stewarts definition of p o r n: "I know it when I see it."
7:14 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The simplest solution is to not use a hyperlink period.

If you allow unlinked http references at least we can cut and paste the URI and visit the destination. Maybe at some point you have a whitelist and those http references become hyperlinks.

The next best option is to remove all incentive for links to pass any juice, one of those nifty redirect thingies you're capable of doing.

WebmasterWorld Members MUST earn the privilege to post http references.
7:29 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Food for thought as this discussion continues.

Does the link in anyway bring value to the discussion


Please do your best to define or articulate "value", such that the definition can be easily used to delete links. (The pron "I know it when I see it" analogy never really worked.)

IF the TOS interjects a "value judgment", requiring all links to be judged for value by a mod, what effect might that have on the willingness of ~"quality folk" ( :P and :-/ ) to volunteer to moderate at WebmasterWorld?

To be perfectly honest, if I'm "assigned" that task chances are I'll resign as I just don't see performing that task as measurably adding value in the time I have to volunteer. I'd rather spend what time I have responding to questions (when that appears appropriate), initiating threads, etc. (Maybe there will be a need for a paid WebmasterWorld "link policeman/woman" to fob off such a task?)

Quality moderation, by quality volunteer moderators, has an significant effect on the quality of the dialogue and the forum itself. Most mods, to my knowledge, do NOT enjoy the "policing component" of the moderator role.

Almost every policy modification can have unintended consequences, or unforeseen consequences IF the dialogue doesn't plunge into the depths of the issue before the policy change takes effect. (Kudos to BT for taking the approach) This issue - of link drops - is about as DEEP as it gets to touching on a fundamental policy or practice of WebmasterWorld. It has been the absence of link drops that has been one of the most defining characteristics of WebmasterWorld, so a change of policy requires great deliberation.

I'd really like to see a policy that could work . . within the limits of the revised policy . . . but first someone (y'all) needs to do an excellent job of crafting the policy, its verbiage, etc.

SO . . please do so. ;)
8:44 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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First, let me say this is NOT a hot topic for me. Count me as "whatever."

But, I do not understand the reasoning for this "fundamental policy" other than to prohibit self-promotion, which is reason enough. That is not what this board is about. (Please note: My asking this is not implying I believe there is not very good reasons for the current policy.)
1:33 am on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I like things the way they are... promotes value in DISCUSSION rather than links to off-forum discussion. Links are occasionally allowed, and in some respects are actually required. I think the current mod take a look to see if value actually exists, and senior members having "report msg" to assist is actually working very well.
5:47 am on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The simplest solution is to not use a hyperlink period.

If you allow unlinked http references at least we can cut and paste the URI and visit the destination. Maybe at some point you have a whitelist and those http references become hyperlinks.


yes please! it occurs to me that i have been hanging around here for 7 years and i still dont know when it is ok to link (or who to link to), or to mention brand names, or to refer to something like hxxp://lalalala.com

seems a little dysfunctional.
6:54 am on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Please do your best to define or articulate "value", such that the definition can be easily used to delete links.


If I would have to set up linking rules it would look somehow like this:

1. Links are allowed if they add value to the discussion.
2. If a link provides value to the discussion can be decided by the moderator. Appeals only via sticky mail.
3. Think thrice about posting links to websites you are in any way affiliated with.

To make things easier for the moderators some technical measures to discourage spammers, self promoters and those who are only in for the link juice could be implemented. Nofollow, post count of x needed, you name it.

That would be about all the rules I would implement. In my opinion you can't define value, because if a link has value depends entirely on the context and can't be defined by a set of rules in advance. All you could do is give a list of examples what you definetly do not want to see in links.

But it is in the nature of a forum that it is moderated in a somehow authoritarian way and for example a member with a post count of 2000 is more likely to get the benefit of the doubt when linking somewhere than a member with a post count of 5. That may not seem fair to the guy with the post count of 5, but that's how things are.
2:24 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I've already said no change to the linking policy in another thread, and despite all the talk, I still can't see the issue:

Given people claim to be professional, then why not adhere to the same standards as any other professional group? Part of being a professional is evaluating the source of your information - that you receive, and that you convey. So if policy needs to be re-framed, then use the same terms as any credible academic or professional work rather than re-inventing the wheel.

That immediately gives you:
1. No reference (link) to your own work.
2. No reference (link) to any work in which you have an interest.
3. Mis-representing either is an immediate public acknowledgement by the publishing body the reference was self-promoting (ban)

That gets rid of first-time posters linking to an image in the coding forums, as well as spammers/promoters, etc.

The issue of links in which a person has no interest creates two issues.
The first is this is a discussion forum and meant to stay on topic, so the value of a link is not its "value" - every spammer/promoter/troll will argue value. The issues are relevance and necessity.

Writers/editors/readers of the most rigorously scrutinised academic and professional journals judge this daily. Think quotes - easy to spot when a quote isn't relevant. And just as easy to identify when the quote was not required to make the point.

If it is arguable whether a link (reference/quote) is relevant or necessary - it probably isn't. No need to argue the link policy itself: Dust of the same reasons your post-grad supervisor insisted your most fav quote had to go ;)

Second, if the link (reference) is relevant and necessary, is it credible? Mostly a link (reference) needs to be to a reputable publication from an independently reviewed source that has a degree of longevity. Review is problematic on the web because it rarely happens, which is why there is so much crud. However, we can draw analogies that work:

To use css as an example, the w3 is obvious. "Meyers" a "name" that can be distinguished from every css wanna-be because his longevity means there are numerous and wide-ranging industry comments about conference offerings, papers/books, blog articles, etc to count as a sort of peer-review. Position is everything is a site that has been scrutinised by so many the same can be said. css3info is an eg of a new site in an emerging area, but the people behind it aren't new, and it has drawn positive critical comment from recognised "experts" whose credibility can be established.

Every area has its own instantly recognisable sources of "expert" information. And recalling the basis of expertise and professionalism is pursuit of knowledge, that also avoids stagnation given true professionals quickly identify emerging talent.

That said, the above paragraph shows why there is no need to change links policy: None of those sites have a link. That's because not one discusses WebmasterWorld link policy - linking is neither relevant or necessary.

At this stage spelling out the policy more clearly or giving more would not help - "no-links" should be easy to understand. The problem in css at least is that few read the TOS, charter or the guide to posting code. Perhaps the best strategy is make sure these documents must be read before newbies post, and so grsp the ethos of WebmasterWorld before doing so.
4:13 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Before I get too involved in this, is BT willing to consider changes to the linking policy? There is no point is us discussing this otherwise.
4:20 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Before I get too involved in this, is BT willing to consider changes to the linking policy? There is no point is us discussing this otherwise.


I agree. Can we put the multiple topics to rest on this one, merge them also? I think there's a pretty good response pool to cull feedback from.
5:40 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Any proposed linking policy needs to address two more points, in addition to "is it non-promotional and does it benefit the discussion?"

  • Permanence: Links to pages or sites that might disappear or change, rendering discussion based on that link incomprehensible to a reader who comes along later. Much of the traffic to threads here comes after the fact -- people looking for ideas or answers via search. Any link to a resource that has changed renders the thread useless to them. This is one reason why links to blogs and tweets aren't welcome here now.

  • Links to resources that may be compromised (now or later): One reason WebmasterWorld typically *does* allow links to the "big name sites" is that it is reasonably likely that their sites have decent security measures implemented. This cannot be said for the general population of sites on the Web. As a volunteer mod, do I want to risk my business data checking out links to joe-bobs-widget-tips.info -type sites to see if they're safe for my fellow WebmasterWorld members to click? No, that wouldn't be very wise...

    There are several additional concerns from the linked-to Web site's perspective, but the two above are relevant to the particular forum moderated by Webwork.

    I just wanted to put those two additional factors into the equation here -- I don't have or expect to have any links-policy-making involvement myself, and my intent is only to further the discussion of comprehensive replacement policy proposals.

    Jim
  • 5:43 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    As stated in the other thread [webmasterworld.com]:

    1. 'New Members' not allowed to post links (not a mod issue, they'd be disabled by the forum). This is to minimise drive-bys, and give people chance to acclimatize and have some idea about what would be appropriate and acceptable. How many posts? 50? 100?

    2. All external links would be nofollow. This removes much of the incentive to spam, but won't stop the idiots.

    3. All links would obfuscated (beautiful word); using javascript / short URLs / whatever is certain to obfuscate (still beautiful), while fitting into the forum set up.

    4. Report Spam function also. If enough members Report Spam, the reply is nixed from public view. Mods/Admins can then clean up later. [added: P1R from the other thread]

    This would (safely) enable the current rule to be significantly relaxed, but would still be some extra work for mods, as link droppers* are obsessional, often verging on the psychotic. If they perceive an opportunity, They Will Try Harder.

    *"What do we want?
    Obfuscated Link Droppers!
    When do we want it?
    Now!"


    PS anyone who opposes the above is ipso facto a link dropper or a link droppers friend, and should be obfuscated on sight**

    **That was a joke, P1R
    12:44 pm on May 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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    My questions about current policy and logic were answered well by Brett in the intro of this new thread. If you're interested in this topic, I'd suggest a jump to here:
    [webmasterworld.com...]
     

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