Web 2.0 &038; SEO: Must We Piss In Every Public Fountain?

Ξ September 21st, 2007 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Misc |

From the page: PJ O'Rourke defined the "tragedy of the commons" perfectly, by giving one example: public restrooms. I'm going to go with a slightly different example.

Imagine that you live in a village. The villagers need water. It's a long walk to the river. So some of the village leaders get together and decide to dig a well. They create a public fountain, and everyone can get water from it. It's a wonderful thing, until the village drunk starts pissing in the fountain.

Now replace the fountain with Wikipedia, and the village drunk with SEOs... and you have a perfect picture of why Wikipedia had to nofollow outbound links. I knew prominent SEOs who actually bragged about how easy it was to spam Wikipedia, by having their employees create accounts, do enough minor edits (fix spelling, add citations) to become trusted editors, and then pepper the community encyclopedia with links to their clients. Nice.

Not a week passes without another invitation to join a "Digg Ring," requests to vote up a worthless article on Netscape, and even sillier stuff. Hey Dan, we're all going to go piss in the public fountain, you wanna come?

Unfortunately, far too many people think that if they can just add a little more noise to the channel, they can gain a competitive advantage. It's a shame that so many people can't find truly creative ways to market their web sites. It's a shame that there are so many who don't want to add value to the web, or can't figure out how... and it's a shame that search engines can't find better ways to filter the noise out. It's a shame that so much of this spam actually works.

    This is very true of the internet in general, for e.g. 85% of all email sent is spam, which not only uses up bandwidth needlessly, but means that servers are loaded down with scanning mail to try and block it, raising costs, and slowing down the transmission of legitimate mail. It's even happening on SU, as mentioned in the entry a couple down from this one, someone has created over 200 accounts to spam SU with, pissing in the well that is the Recently Hot Tags cloud, thus destroying in part its usefulness for people who want to use it for its intended purpose, and taking up development time to try and counteract it--time that could be used for improving SU and developing new features.


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