Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Do You Link Dope or Incestuously Link?

Holy cow. Did you know the practice of link doping and incestuous linking are bona fide methods of link building?

Honest. Says so in the Wikipedia.

As I was trolling around today I stumbled on a page in Wikipedia titled "Methods of website linking". I found it after searching on the term "link popularity".

Clicking through I was taken to a page describing methods of website linking I've never heard of like - "Link doping" and "Incestuous linking". Incest and doping and links - oh my!

(click the images if you want to see them more clearly)

Keep in mind I searched on the term "link popularity" and came to the page expecting to see just that. Instead, I found terminology used to describe outdated , incomplete and irrelevant link methods sitting under a title that lead me to believe I was going to read about hyperlinks. Say huh?

Ok, so I backed up and decided the page was really trying to talk about link building methods. Where's the disclaimer and link to search engine guidelines on link exchanges and paid links? Those changes to the guidelines happened last year and were significant. Looks like paid links are on another section but this one talks about recip links so I assumed I'd find updated info. Well you know what they say about assumptions.

I couldn't find any information on link popularity per se, there's a little paragraph there but it's not accurate and far from complete. (The page was redirected from the "link popularity" page which is empty). There are calls on the main page for "cleanup" but they're from November of last year and the revision history shows edits made to the page February 18, 2008. Which means this page has been touched recently and it still contains outdated and irrelevant information.

It amazes me that link popularity, one of the most fundamentally important concepts to understand when talking about search engines and online marketing is on a page with "Link doping" and "Incestuous linking". Where exactly is the tie-in? Everyone (including me) says the Wikipedia is an authority source, but what I found for the term "link popularity" is anything but.

If I get over the fact I didn't get what I was searching for (link popularity) and focus on the page I was led to, I'm still left shaking my head. The page is titled "Methods of Website Linking" and yet - what's being showcased doesn't have anything to do with website linking. Most of the linking building tactics mentioned aren't really tactics and the one key concept on the page - link popularity- doesn't even talk about anchor text. How can you talk about link pop and not mention anchor text?

It appears the people taking care of this page definitely aren't authorities or even moderately versed in current SEO, they've mistakenly jumbled two concepts and stuck them under a generic banner. I'd roll my eyes and let it go if the page wasn't redirecting from one titled "link popularity" and 3/4 of the info on the page wasn't SEO related. Nope, this is a case of someone not knowing what they're doing - and others letting it sit that way for months.

And yet, when I publicly suggest knowledgable people with good content should contribute to the Wikipedia, I'm spoken down to, told to read the conflict of interest guidelines and criticized. Yeah that's right, I can't let go of that little incident, and don't think I should after seeing this.

And if you come back and say - "why don't you help clean it up instead of bitching about it Debra" -- forget it. It will be a cold day in Wiki hell before that happens.

People new to SEO and who want to learn about link popularity and/or link building methods shouldn't give this page on the Wikipedia a second glance. It's inaccurate, outdated, uses terminology no one in the business uses and is mis-matched for the title. This one's a dud.

Maybe Wikipedia should change the tactic "Link doping" to link dropping dope. It fits.

p.s. Pope image is the cover of an old album produced by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Fetch / Sphinn
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Andrea said...

Right on Debra!! I agree. The way Wikipedia is put on a pedestal is ridiculous. I remember when I first found out it was human edited... it totally shot down much of its creditability. I also remember when my boss tried to teach me about affiliate marketing and handed me a stack of info he collected for the 'Net. Unknowingly I commented that the write up looked like someone from another language translated it into English because the grammar was so bad. I later found out it was a Wikipedia post. Ouch. Google needs to get a clue and stop being so infatuated with the site. It's borderline "incestuous" :)

Patricia Skinner said...

Hi Debra, Wikipedia is by no means infallible and I myself have found editors to be pedantic and uncooperative, even when they're actually in the wrong. I think Wikipedia is overrated, sadly.

Debra Mastaler said...

"pedantic"... good word Patricia!

I'm just a little tired of the holier than thou attitude from people who support Wikipedia. They get it wrong - and in a big -way all the time.

LOL, Andrea I'm all for pedestals if the situation warrants but in this case, they need to go sit in a corner on one. Thanks for commenting. :)

rebecca said...

I went back and read the original controversy, and it just didn't seem fierce enough to warrant a total personal ban on participation in Wikipedia. So I just have to know: did you in fact go and let the guy buy you a drink at the conference and did it then become much fiercer than what we saw at your link?
If not, I'd say give them a second chance. It's a noble project, the hosts have got to be spending a huge amount of time dealing with misbehavior, and they probably just got touchy.
Sounds like that entry really needs someone like you.

Jim Carr said...

I agree that the content contained within the referenced Wikipedia article is inaccurate, outdated and of little (if any) value; however, to suggest that this is proof that Wikipedia is worthless and over-hyped shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what Wikipedia is.

Every Wikipedia article has an "edit this page" tab...if you feel something is wrong or inaccurate, rather than ranting about it, why don't you just change it? If you feel an article lacks depth or credibility, add something to it.

Wired editor Chris Anderson talks about on Why People are so uncomfortable with Wikipedia here:


Anonymous said...

Uh, why will it be a cold day in hell when you fix it yourself? I don't understand your indignant outrage. You should be helping, not hurting.

Further, your article does not provide its readers with a list of reliable sources to consult instead of Wikipedia. Do you have any suggestions for us?

Note the Wikipedia entry you reference has posted "needs clean up" messages at the top of the page since November 2007. With this in mind, anyone using this article as an authoritative source is risking their own credibility -- and anyone following a Wikipedia citation (as one should) can easily determine this. The information on Wikipedia may be outdated, but it's certainly more current than the last issue of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Many librarians find Wikipedia to be an extremely helpful reference source -- but only if you understand how to chase citations.

Debra Mastaler said...

rebecca - If you're referencing the calling out I received on Sphinn and Search Engine Land (about Wikipedia) know that wasn't the first time. I'm all for being loyal to a cause but I could reverse your suggestion to the person calling me out. If he's SUCH a champion of the Wikipedia, why not dialogue instead of criticze. Two wrongs don't make a right but it seems Wikipedia people are always defensive and always willing to put others down at the drop of a hat. It happened to me twice - this is my biteback.

Jim - the article is junk, pure and simple but I never said the rest of the Wikipedia was. That would be silly. Thank you for the link to Wired, I'll read it.

Anonymous My readers aren't librarians, they're business people with limited time who expect good information from a source that claims to be an authority. I know it's a huge place but - a concept/page as important as link popularity deserves attention and proper information on it. It's been sitting there for months... who's watching the store?

Ok - for the record.... Wikipedia is not bad. The page I found is bad. Fix it. I'm not going to, I've been bounced out of there before for trying to add quality information to a section I also happen to work in. That's a smart way to get experienced people to add credible info? I'm not a spammer but was treated as such, if it happened to you, you'd feel the same way.

David Taber said...

Folks, why are you complaining about a dud Wikipedia article? It's an all-volunteer effort, and all you have to do is log in to fix the content. So, do that.

Mediadude said...

Indeed. If you don't like Wikipedia, don't follow links to it. It's like commercial TV. There IS an off switch. But unlike commercial TV, if you are motivated then you can do something about a bad Wikipedia entry. Is it worth the time? Who knows... but it's gotta be better than complaining!

Tom Pick said...

Debra, excellent post. Frustrations with Wikipedia are legion. Just wanted to let you know I've linked to and quoted this post of yours in my post today on Social Networking Sites and SEO: What Wikipedia Won't Tell You.

Keep it up!

Trav said...

Hey Debra,

Thanks for this post.. it sounds about right, at least as far as my Wiki experiences go...

just curious, do they consider your input to be 'self-serving?'... that would be pretty laughable- if it's a user-edited site, undertaken by volunteers, then every edit would be self serving.

At any rate, cheers!