Internet links, those that lead you to a different Web page when you click on them in your browser, are one of the most important things that make the Web useful and easy to use. D. Sullivan writes that many Internet users and publishers “probably understand that links are important, but many of them probably really don’t understand what a mess the link situation is”.

I find particularly interesting this part of Sullivan’s piece, slightly edited for clarity:

“Consider any Wikipedia page. Wikipedia has no innate knowledge. All of its pages are sourced off facts and information that come from others. These others get listed at the bottom of Wikipedia pages with links, but those links are “formatted” in a way that search engines do not count them as quality votes for those sources. By rights, these sources have earned those votes (since they have been considered good enough to be references for the Web most popular encyclopedia). But, they get denied those votes.”

What I called “formatting” in the edited quote above is the “nofollow” mechanism used by lots of websites, including those running on Wordpress as this one, to prevent spam. Links inside Wikipedia pages, however, could count more than others for search engines, because Wikipedia is much bigger and much more popular than most other websites. Therefore, being linked by Wikipedia in the “nofollow” way is a bigger penalty, Sullivan says, that when the same thing happens on other websites.