Now I know that link spam has been an issue on Wikipedia, and yes, some of those links reduce the value of the information on the page. But there has to be a way to give back to the community that made Wikipedia what it is today without making such a sweeping change that devalues the links of valuable contributors who are genuinely trying to make Wikipedia a better resource.
This issue stems from the fact that, while the internet is becoming more and more competitive as a marketplace, it’s still very much influenced by its cooperative roots. As participants in the internet, we’re expected to link out to people and companies that we feel add value to our service or information, and we expect to receive the same in return.
I remember the furor that occurred when rel=nofollow first gained widespread support by the search engines. During the course of this, Jeremy Zawodny wrote a post called Nofollow No Good? in which he talked about how people had stopped commenting and linking without the incentive of receiving a little love from the links such activities invite.
In that light, I think that there’s a very real possibility that Wikipedia could see a fairly significant drop not just in spam, but in relevant edits and links by people who are genuinely trying to help build the resource (in exchange for a little link love). Wikipedia removed a major incentive to participate, and that will have its consequences.
Do I think that that will kill Wikipedia? No. But it does create a (small) opportunity for a competitor who is a little more willing to address the spam issue in a less-sweeping fashion. And as far as my participation in the Campaign to Reduce Wikipediaâ€™s PageRank to Zero is concerned, I’ll join in, just so if anything cool happens, I can say that I was a part of it.