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Example: mysite dot com slash directory dot html

Something like that was done in this question. After I fixed it, the OP rolled it back and added a note about not wanting it spidered for "obvious SEO reasons".

Am I wrong to think that if one is going to post a URL in a question that it should be a clickable URL and not just a path described with text?

Also, if allowed to ask here, how could spidering of a URL on SO hurt one's SEO?

share|improve this question
What does "spidered for obvious SEO reasons" mean? – Alenanno Jan 22 '12 at 20:22
@Alenanno, I don't know. Those are the OP's words in the original question I reference. – Sparky Jan 22 '12 at 20:23
Yes I noticed that but I thought it was a common term... Well, I'll wait for someone else to answer me. :D – Alenanno Jan 22 '12 at 20:24
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I fixed the link and stated:

Data should not be malformed, if sensitive then please remove it.

And this sums up my feelings on the issue.

When / if the user returns and wishes to act, this is the action I would suggest. Expecting users to manipulate post stuff (other than the obvious issue to solve) isn't conducive to getting an answer anyway.

Perhaps some official input may be required to avoid this spiralling into any kind of edit war.

Reading Arjan's comment on Justin's answer makes a lot of sense here too:

If the OP doesn't want the URL from being indexed, then the OP apparently is sure that it will change soon, or be gone altogether. That makes it a bad reference for the question to start with: what about tomorrow's visitors?

Ideally the OP would have made an SSCCE with, say, jsFiddle or something similar which could facilitate their needs; obviously the longevity of those links could well be limited as well, the links will eventually die instead of radically change as the days go by. This just stands to reason that such an example on an external link ought to be fully reproduced (in its already minimal form) in the original post.

This doesn't justify abusing linkage.

share|improve this answer
A fiddle would have been silly. The problem was easily seen with a validator which was what I hadn't used and which was the answer to my problem. See my answer for the reasons for my malformed link. In this particular case I really cannot see any abuse, just concern for the people I was trying to help – mplungjan Jan 23 '12 at 0:36

In general, you should make links clickable. People often put ( in parentheses which need to be corrected. But the OP did it on purpose in this case.

The OP does not want search engines to find that link on Stack Overflow and index it in their search results because he is still trying to fix it. SEO (search engine optimization) was not exactly the right term. By making the slash text English, he was trying to prevent search engines (e.g., Google) from finding the page. (Note that because Stack Overflow puts nofollow on its links, a few search engines such as Google would supposedly have not indexed the page.

As for whether he should have done that or used a robots.txt file, that is up to the Stack Overflow management. I personally would discourage it because it prevents users from being able to help if they do not understand what he is trying to accomplish with the slash term. Also, his not wanting the page indexed means he plans for it to change (or disappear) soon, which makes the question localized due to being temporal. The OP should have put the page up on a different website to preserve for future purposes.

Update: I updated my answer to accommodate the comment suggestions.

share|improve this answer
He could simply use a robots.txt file to block that page during construction. Do you have any thoughts about the main part of my question? – Sparky Jan 22 '12 at 20:29
@Sparky, I updated my answer a few seconds after your comment. He could have used a Robots.txt file, but I think he was trying to general avoid the page being indexed and didn't care enough to put forth that effort. Sometimes production deployments are more hassle than they're worth for a small fix like that. – Devin Burke Jan 22 '12 at 20:30
So it's generally ok to post links like that here? I guess I want to know what the OP should have done, rather than why. – Sparky Jan 22 '12 at 20:32
By making the slash text English, he is preventing search engines (e.g., Google) from finding the page. Redundant, links on the question are "nofollow". Some links on some posts are not (not sure of the specifics), but for this particular case OP was being a bit paranoid. – Yannis Jan 22 '12 at 20:34
@Sparky, it's a bad idea because it makes the question more difficult to understand. Obviously, if you had to post this question, there was a break in communication due to the link being posted like that. I don't know if there's an official policy on whether it's forbidden to intentionally break links, but I doubt it. – Devin Burke Jan 22 '12 at 20:36
@Yannis: I assume he didn't know that. I didn't either. – Devin Burke Jan 22 '12 at 20:36
If the OP doesn't want the URL from being indexed, then the OP apparently is sure that it will change soon, or be gone altogether. That makes it a bad reference for the question to start with: what about tomorrow's visitors? So I feel you acted okay, @Sparky. – Arjan Jan 22 '12 at 20:37
@JustinSatyr Yeap, that's why thought I should bring it up. I have no idea when links are "follow" (if ever), in some discussion it was hinted that it's a rep thing and/or a whitelist thing, but I don't know... – Yannis Jan 22 '12 at 20:38
@Yannis, as far as I understand, nofollow is generally used by search engines to not award any weight to the link. But that does not necessarily mean the bots won't index the page. – Arjan Jan 22 '12 at 20:40
@Arjan Yeap, that's right, I was more commenting on the OP in question that left a comment saying "for obvious SEO reasons"... – Yannis Jan 22 '12 at 20:42
Thanks Justin, Yannis, and Arjan for confirming my initial opinions on this and the spidering issue. – Sparky Jan 22 '12 at 20:46

The post was mine and the obvious SEO reasons was that the server is mine BUT the REAL site is somewhere else.
My concerns was that SO is spidered every 30 minutes or so and although I disallow the directory in my robots.txt, I was still paranoid on behalf of the owner of the page that my page would be spidered and hurt her SEO once she went alive with the exact same page.

I can keep the page there although it no longer even necessary actually since the page I had problems with just needed to validate to work, now it works and is therefore no longer interesting to look at.

I was not aware of the nofollow - now I am. I still cannot for my life see there was any problems for a visitor to change the slash to / as indeed you yourself had no problems doing

Update: I do not often post links to sites with the problem, I do prefer jsfiddles which concentrates the code to the issue at hand. In this case that was not feasible to move all the code to jsfiddle. What I would like to see was a we could use to shorten, and hence hide the site from the search engines. It may not follow the link, but if you type the name of the site into Google, it will still show the "I am clueless about my site" when someone searches for wonderful site

Anyway the question got itself deleted.

share|improve this answer
Now that you're aware of the nofollow, will you change your behavior, or should SO do more to prevent spidering of linked pages? – Kevin Vermeer Jan 23 '12 at 0:48
Two things... first, I was only looking for guidance from the community about what's best for posting URL's here. The consensus seems to be that the full URL should be posted intact. Second, yes, it was not a problem for me to follow the link by cutting/pasting and changing the slash to /. Just like I have no problem reading a misspelled (or misspelt) word, yet I still correct it. – Sparky Jan 23 '12 at 0:50
@Kevin - it is not often I post links to actual site code, I prefer jsfiddle. Now I know there is a nofollow, I will probably not obfuscate the links I post. It can be difficult since Google still shows the SO question if one is searching for a site linked in a question. – mplungjan Jan 23 '12 at 9:54
@Sparky672 - but in this case the word was misspelled on purpose. I could have put a [sic] after it if that helped :) – mplungjan Jan 23 '12 at 10:00
The popular opinion (and I agree with it), is to either post the full & working URL or don't post the URL at all. In your case, there was no way for me to know why, since you originally posted no explanation. I corrected it, you changed it back (explained it), then I left it alone and came here looking for guidance... end of story. This thread does not change community opinion on the practice, because next time it happens, somebody else will likely be fixing it. – Sparky Jan 23 '12 at 16:09

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