Thursday, May 3, 2007

Spam is yum?

Well, David Gerard has written a very nice piece about the recent "controversy" over the InterWiki map. I agree with him, but I am unsure about one assertion he made.

"Pagerank is not a consideration for Wikipedia — it contributes nothing to the project of writing an encyclopedia. This is why SEOs and Googlemancers find it so hard to find anyone at Wikipedia or Wikimedia who cares." - David

Pagerank is indeed not a consideration for Wikipedia. It is not something your average editor thinks about when removing "boobies" from [[George W. Bush]]. However, was that true in the past? Google et al. obviously accounted for a huge amount of our incoming traffic. Actually, I'd dare say all of it. And we obviously wouldn't have written anything if no one was going to read it... so, without Pagerank, would there be so many editors? Would Wikipedia, with all of its flaws, be the entity it is today?

That makes for a very interesting line of thought, but I guess the question has become the following: Have we matured as a website enough that we don't need to be plastered all over the top of Google's search results? Have we gotten to the point where people don't look first at Google, but search immediately within Wikipedia? Does anyone have the stats about that? What would be the raw effect of nofollow on our popularity?

Now, from the editor's point of view: I sure love to have an FA I worked on as the top hit in Google. It makes me at least have the impression that I've done something productive. So, does it mean that I write for Google? Does it mean that I care about Pagerank, and the impact that it could have on the amount of readers our articles have? Does it mean that indirectly, the amount of readers I have is an enticement that causes users to produce more content?

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*crickets chirp*

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No, not really. Free content would continue to exist, whether it is at the top of my bookshelf, or the top of the results in a search engine. Regardless of anytihng, people do, and will continue to, read Wikipedia. It is nice to have many more people reading my work as a result of Google's algorithms, but it really isn't the reason I write here. So... no, I guess I don't disagree with David's conclusion. I don't care.

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3 comments:

Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

David Gerard said...

The answer to your question "without Pagerank, would there be so many editors?" is: "yes, there would have, because there were." Through 2004 and into 2005, our Google rankings were terrible - you'd search on a phrase in Wikipedia and you'd get three pages of wikipedia mirror sites before you'd get us!

Nah. We got page rank only when we were actually popular, because we were popular. Then people linked to us and our page rank got stupidly high.

Titoxd said...

But would there be as many editors/readers right now as a result of Pagerank? Meaning, if we disappeared off <s>the face of the Earth</s>Google, what kind of readership hit would we take?