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Sat, Jun 28th - 7:10PM

The Controversy over Link Farms
Link farms and WebRing pages — Do they add to or decrease the value of a WebRing Community? First, we should provide a definition for each:

Link Farms
A link farm is a web page with nothing more than a list of links to other sites. The links can appear as text or as linked images.

Why They Exist
Until recently, links were one of the most effective ways to increase a website's traffic. Search engines looked to links to establish a site's authority. Of course, with any system, the abuse took its toll.

Issues They Cause
With their reputation as the best search engine on the Web waning, Google changed their algorithm to prioritize sites based on content and updates. Now, sites that rely on linking to drive traffic to their sites are suffering. This doesn't mean that networking or establishing reciprocal links will result in low rankings, but static pages crammed full of links do. A WebRing Community filled with Link Farms is virtually ignored by search engines, and visitors have little to no use for them.

WebRing Pages
A WebRing page is a page filled with nothing but the WebRing NavBar. They can either contain one NavBar or an entire stack.

Why They Exist
Originally, WebRing pages were created as a way to provide a page for the WebRing NavBar. In order to join a WebRing Community, you need to have the NavBar on your page, as they are the key to creating "rings" of sites. Many had issues adding the NavBar to their sites due to restrictions with their web editing software or host. Others treated the NavBar like a blemish, and many still do. Yet in order to get approved for membership, the site owner had to add the NavBar. Hence, the creation of the WebRing page. Just provide a link on your main site to your WebRing page and you pass the checker.

Issues They Cause
Quite simply, they provide zero relevance and create complexity in navigation. Think of this as a visitor. You come to WebRing hoping to find information on a particular subject. You click on a site title and find... a NavBar stack. Assuming this is just one poor site in a sea of good ones, you click to preview the next site. Same results. You give it one more chance, and once again, another WebRing page. What do you do? You leave the WebRing Community and go back to Google up another site.

Another huge issue is the lack of content. Search engines want content, not links. To Google, Yahoo, MSN... WebRing pages are essentially link farms. If you have chosen to create a WebRing page, you are minimizing the effectiveness of joining WebRing in the first place.

Our Advice vs. Your Preference
Within the last year, we have encouraged Community Managers to clean their rings, to purge them of link farms and WebRing pages, to encourage their members to place the NavBars near content. The reaction has been mixed, to say the least. Many managers are coming around to this way of thinking, despite the negative reactions they have received from long-time WebRing members.

What Do You Think?
We would like to hear from all of you, members and managers. We want to hear about how you've dealt with this situation.
  • Do you think link farms and WebRing pages decrease the value of WebRing Communities?
  • As a manager, how do you deal with link farms and WebRing pages?
  • As a member, does it bother you that your Community Manager approves link farms and WebRing pages?
  • As a member who submits link farms and WebRing pages, are you offended when a manager denies your application to join the community?

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