Giftless Links

“Robert Scoble” and “Shel Israel” are writing a book on corporate blogging called “Naked Conversations”.

They’re practicing what they preach and using their “Naked Conversations” (Formerly “the Red Couch”) as a launching pad and test bed for many of the ideas and much of the content in the book. Scoble just posted “Corporate Blog Tip #8 — A link is a gift” which had some really great thoughts about the power of linking to others. I posted a reply pointing out that we don’t always want to give a gift when we link.

Here’s my comment:

Links are indeed gifts. It’s particularly nice when you find folks pointing to you that you’ve never heard of before and your circle of conversation expands once again. The big issue we face at is how (or whether) to link to sites that we think are doing a poor job or are unethical. We want to talk about them and we feel it is important for readers to get reference links to help with context, but these are sites we definitely do not want to send gifts to. It would be interesting to have a conversation about “giftless links”. I guess the most obvious course of action is to use “nofollow” which resolves the search issues, but I do wonder what else people have done to provide “giftless links”.

So far at One Degree we haven’t used “nofollow” in the body of our posts (although we do use it elsewhere), but I’m thinking we might adopt this approach. It seems best to let the reader on the page see the link and follow it within the context of our post while at the same time denying nasty sites of any Googlejuice. Too bad “Textile 2” (which we use) doesn’t support nofollow yet. In any event, we’ll use nofollow very sparingly in posts as, in general, we want outbound links to be followed both by humans and machines.

Originally published at on May 10, 2005.