The story about less-than-ethical medievalist bloggers that I posted about here, thanks to Another Damned Medievalist and Meg of Xoom has been picked up by Inside Higher Education here.
I’ve been thinking about this some more, particularly in light of the Blogspot hosted Medievalist News. There are a few oddities, aside from the less-than-original posts. Not only are links and attributions removed from posts, it’s a one-to-many blog. There are no comment links. All comment are shut off. Blogging is in large part about conversation. As Tor Books editor, writer, and blogger Patrick Nielsen Hayden says:
Effective blogging is a combination of good personal writing and smart party hosting. A good blog post can be a sentence long, or three pages long; what matters is that it encourages further conversation.
By not including back-links, by shutting off comments, by not having a blogroll, Medieval News and Medievalist.net are not only not participating in the conversation, they are actively shutting it down. All the Twitter feeds with links to their post, and Facebook groups in the world can’t fix that. It is, however, a technique that I’ve seen in one other realm of the blogosphere; spam sites and scraping sites. They want traffic and Google rankings, so they obtain their content elsewhere, in order to sell ads.
Once Google, bloggers, and sys admins, and W3C noticed this practice, they created a work around; it’s called rel=”nofollow”. It works like this:
<a href="http://medievalnews.blogspot.com/" rel="nofollow">Medievalist News</a>
Using rel=”nofollow” means that links work, but the link is not tracked by Google or other search engines or sites like Alexa. So the misbehaving site gets no “Google juice.”
As ADM notes here, “we often forget about the ramifications of how internet communication works.”