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View Poll Results: Should We Disable Live Links?
No 27 75.00%
Yes 9 25.00%
Voters: 36. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-29-2004   #1
dannysullivan
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Should We Disable Live Links?

As many know, we've got a pretty liberal link policy here. If someone has information they want to refer to, we allow a link to it (even it it is their own site), as long as there's some relevance.

Unfortunately, we do have a growing problem of people trying to hide links or make use of links solely to influence search engines. We don't want to waste moderator time policing this, yet we do still want to preserve the idea that people can refer to outside resources.

As a solution, we've discussed the idea of not allowing "live" links within the forums. You could still provide a URL -- but the URL could not be embedded within words/anchor text nor would the URL as shown be clickable.

In other words, right now you could do this:
There's a really good example of this. I also read on another site about the technique. You can read yourself here: http://www.thatothersite.com/page.html
See how the word "example" has a link embedded in it and how the URL that's show is clickable. If we turn off live links, the text above would be something more like this:
There's a really good example (http*://www.example.com) of this. I also read on another site about the technique. You can read yourself here: http:*//www.thatothersite.com/page.html
FYI, the * symbols wouldn't appear -- that's just a workaround to disable live links in the example. If we make the change, the URLs would look like normal URLs and you could cut and paste. Also, any existing embedded URLs would change so that you'd see both the original anchor text and the non-clickable link leading to it.

Personally, I dislike not having live links. However, I do love that the change would still make it easy for anyone to get to referenced material (just cut and paste the URL) while cutting down on one of the problems with allowing links. Naturally, some will still put in references for purely self-promotional reasons -- but for purely search engine link-building reasons, that incentive would be gone.

That's the idea -- please provide comments and/or vote in the poll.
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Old 11-29-2004   #2
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Unfortunately, manning a forum full of marketers just aint easy

Im afraid you'll have to lump it or render this place ridiculously unusable.

One much easier way to do it would be to take crea8asiteforums lead and put links through a searchengine unfriendly jump script - make it known that drops dont pass PR etc and half the battle is won.

The other half is the battle of link drops for eyeballs

Nick

Last edited by Nick W : 11-29-2004 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 11-29-2004   #3
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I like the cre8asite method as well. I find value in linking within the content of the post. Makes posts look cleaner, IMO. Redirect is the method to go, IMO.
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Old 11-29-2004   #4
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I agree fully with Nick on this point:

Quote:
make it known that drops dont pass PR etc and half the battle is won.
The other half is the battle of link drops for eyeballs
Going after the eyeballs, establishing branding and conducting "whisper campaigns" still don't solve people not being happy with feeling like they're being promoted to, as NFFC mentioned in the other thread. He is 100% correct.

There is really very little, proportionately. Driveby's are easy enough to deal with, it's the people who conduct self-promotion campaigns who are the more difficult ones to deal with effectively and IMHO the redirected links will give them yet another argument to come back with and make moderating even harder long term.

I don't like the redirection model at all. It's "un-natural" and artificial and contrary to the very nature of linking and the web. Covering up a problem doesn't solve it - if there even is a problem, which I haven't seen overall.

Good resources should be linked to the legitimate, normal way, the way "ethical" links are supposed to be. And if there are only a few people who will end up spoiling things for everyone else and precipitate changing the whole system, then the challenge is to deal with those individuals one by one. If people are sincere and have potential value as long term members they will cooperate - I've seen scores who have. If they're caught up in resentment and/or rebellion, then they've got a problem on their end with both their motivation and their attitude.

Redirection still won't solve the potential problem of spam snitching - that'll work with or without live links.

It isn't so much the value of the PR or anchor text benefit - it's the eyeballs that are the problem - offensiveness of getting hit with promotion chronically, whether or not it's with live links.
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Old 11-29-2004   #5
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It would be a shame to have to resort to redirects - but live links are definitely much easier for usability purposes.
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Old 11-29-2004   #6
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No to the disabling of live links, yes to the redirect thing

Block the jump script via robots.txt.

Once word gets out that no SE value is passed, then the incidences will drop.

Some forums such as Jill Whalens' Highrankings Search Engine Forum for example, have linking policies that dictate that a poster can't drop a live link until x number of posts is reached.

Maybe a similar principle could be hard coded into this set up. Such an action would save a bunch of moderation time, especially with regards to new members who join for reasons related to an easy link lunch.
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Old 11-29-2004   #7
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If live links are a moderating nightmare, then it seems the most logical solution is to remove live links completely. Referencing URLs should be sufficient enough.
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Old 11-29-2004   #8
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I dont think they are a moderating nightmare stoney, other boards seem to manage ok for the most part?
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Old 11-30-2004   #9
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I would naturally expect this poll to skew towards allowing live links (not disabling), only b/c it reflects a strong self-interest for most posters, especially those who aren't not the most active members (and maybe are more interested in the benefit of link building via forums than are other members). However, since this is like my third post in the SEW forum (something like that), I myself can't really speak much to this.

I joined this forum because it seemed more "credible" to me, in that I got the feeling most of the discussion was of a more advanced nature than other SEO forums, and there were alot less "how do I get great rankings" types of questions. There also seemed to be less self-promotion, and more pure discussion, which I feel is the strength of this site. For this reason I voted to disallow the live links. I fear they'll do more to encourage would-be link builders that often bring down the quality of the forum. If I'm interested in something I'm okay to copy and paste the URL.
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Old 11-30-2004   #10
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As much as I understand the problem I certainly do not think redirecting is the way to go - especially not with all the recent redirect issues going on at both Yahoo and Google. I don't think it would be too funny if it suddenly turned out that this forum had hijacked all the previously linked to websites

It would be much better to leave the raw URLs - unlinked.
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Old 11-30-2004   #11
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Live links can be easily policed with a clear policy for when they are allowed.

I prefer redirects - some people just cannot control themselves and have to drop links for link-pop. It helps to take that motivation away.

<OT>
Quote:
I certainly do not think redirecting is the way to go - especially not with all the recent redirect issues going on at both Yahoo and Google. I don't think it would be too funny if it suddenly turned out that this forum had hijacked all the previously linked to websites
Do it - redirect everything. Public humiliation will motivate Google to fix their own indexing problem.
</OT>
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Old 11-30-2004   #12
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The cre8asite forum experiences very few link drops compared to most forums lot more linking to genuine resources nice compromise.
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Old 11-30-2004   #13
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What method(s) is/are used by their forum?
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Old 12-01-2004   #14
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I also say NO to disabling live links, though totally agree with the unfriendly redirect, something similar to MT blog or the like. Quite personally, I would even say NO to the use of anchor text and that only raw URL's being used for print friendliness. Nothing worse than printing something out for later reading and you don't know the URL of the link from the print, just an underlined word knowing it was a link.

My Two Cents!
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Old 12-01-2004   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Parsons
I also say NO to disabling live links, though totally agree with the unfriendly redirect, something similar to MT blog or the like. Quite personally, I would even say NO to the use of anchor text and that only raw URL's being used for print friendliness. Nothing worse than printing something out for later reading and you don't know the URL of the link from the print, just an underlined word knowing it was a link.

My Two Cents!
most sites that have printer friendly pages have it so that the print version will show the full url. you code it in the css likeso...

in the page header

<link media="screen" href="style.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">
<link media="print" href="print.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">

and then in the print css file
a:after {
content: " ( "attr(href)" )";
}

http://www.ilovejackdaniels.com/desi...riendly-pages/

also I am sure there is some way they could alter the printer friendly version or its printout without needing to control the anchor text in the regular version.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ephricon
What method(s) is/are used by their forum?
redirects that search engines shouldn't usually follow.
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Last edited by seobook : 12-01-2004 at 02:51 AM.
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Old 12-01-2004   #16
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Good point about no anchor text for printing.

Full urls of articles, which tend to be very long, though, could be problematic for display reasons, so these articles have got to be live. You've also got to have live links to other threads on the forum. The forum would be next to useless without these.

About other live links to outside, I'm of two minds. I've enjoyed using these forums in part because of the liberal linking policy, but I've seen links on forums misused so many times that, from the first, I've been expecting that they would eventually start to distort posting here.

I agree with Marcia that eyeball spam and promotional threads perhaps are the major factors that introduce this distortion. Live links provide an extra degree of motivation... Links passing PR provide some extra motivation still.

Probably, a policy of no promotional links, with or without PR, will eventually be necessary. I think this is going to be more work for moderators, with or without straight html links. It's a price of popularity. My guess is that the forum could live with just the domain name drops... which, if really blatant, could be moderated. (Knock on wood, I haven't yet noticed a huge invasion of WT and WPG drops... but maybe I'm not reading in the right forums.)

Redirects? For some 15 months now, there have been "rumors" of problems with jump scripts, etc, yet to be confirmed by Google. Maybe redirects from here could be a way of proving a point.

I just voted for disabling links after reading Danny's post, before thinking about it a lot. Please subtract .50 from the Yes votes.
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Old 12-01-2004   #17
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If a redirect jump script is disallowed in robots.txt then this shouldn't be an issue..right?

In a compliant sense, how can the bot follow that which it is not allowed to access?
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Old 12-01-2004   #18
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The answer comes down to this: will it make the Mods life easier?? If yes, do it. If not, who cares? Well, I don't anyway...
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Old 12-01-2004   #19
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The current situation is that anyone can post a link - and it's a 'live' link by default. That means that driveby's can post a link, and 'self promotional' links get dropped - and the onus is on the moderators to check, clean up etc.

So Danny - is it possible to make the 'default' forum behaviour that links AREN'T live - they are just text - and if the link is genuinely to a good resource - mods can make the link 'live' and clickable?

That way - the 'problems' are solved without human intervention - and good posts get another method of acknowledgement.....

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Old 12-01-2004   #20
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First of all, thanks to everyone for your comments. The feedback is very much appreciated.

I'm leaning toward staying with live links and looking at another method, such as redirection, to perhaps solve some of the link drop problem.

I have to stress it's not a major problem -- another thing I appreciate from the members. But it's something we can see that can grow, so removing live links or some other action may have been helpful.

Whatever we do doesn't solve the "eyeball" or pure promotional drop, of course. I never meant to suggest we thought that would be the case. Part of the moderator job will always be to help police link drops, if links are allowed. That's been the case always with forums before the search engine obsession with links began.

The problem I see with redirection and blocking is that while some may understand that link drops for purely link popularity/analysis purposes wouldn't work with that in place, lots of unsophisticated marketers won't. And we can put up notices in the FAQ explaining that, but people still don't read. In contrast, a dead link pretty much makes it clear to anyone trying to pick up links that the game ain't going to fly

The idea of letting members of certain posts or rep levels get to have links is one solution -- I'd have to explore how hard it would be to implement. Might solve the problem with "drive by" drops -- but those are among the easiest things to police, anyway.

Chris, also not sure how hard it would be to have it so moderators could enable links.

Anyway, things to ponder. Ultimately, I find myself feeling like a lot of bloggers who are blaming Google and other search engines for comment spam. It's not really the search engines' fault directly that people want links, but it would be nice if we had some better controls to use, such as proposals I've seen where tags could be used to surround page elements to prevent indexing. Then you could surround live links with noindex code and have the benefits of live links without the incentives of link spamming and disadvantage of redirection.

Don't say it Nick -- I know, we could probably due the same thing through some form of cloaking
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