This is a followup to the following meta post:

Remove nofollow on links at a certain age

We have been in contact with Matt Cutts regarding removing nofollow:

... we’re trying to encourage sites with valuable user-generated content (like Stack Exchange) to have a more nuanced approach to the nofollow attribute on user-generated links. Using the attribute on all user-generated links takes away a big incentive from spammers, and prevents spammy links from being included in search ranking. However, good links can also be made invisible to search engines with this policy, so we miss out on that ranking signal, which could be used to surface better or fresher high-quality content that your users are recommending.

Starting today we will be removing nofollow on links within posts that hit a high enough threshold to be considered reputable. The details will remain somewhat vague at the moment to discourage gaming of this feature.

  • 3
    Is this only based on post score, or also on poster rep? Commented Nov 7, 2011 at 21:00
  • 7
    just a thought: remove nofollow from links where the post has passed a certain vote & age threshold. This threshold would need to reset after every edit to prevent a spammer from simply editing older questions/answers to add their link.
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Nov 7, 2011 at 21:00
  • 6
    @zzzzBov: Though I think that in the event of a rollback, it's "reputable" status should be restored if that ever happens. That way potential spammers cannot kill it off so easily. Commented Nov 8, 2011 at 19:48
  • 1
    So did you find the drop in server fault traffic was not because of nofollow? "turns out, it was every bit the bad idea I originally thought it was. And now we can prove it." (from the previous post) Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 2:04
  • 1
    Should I take the fact that the link to mattcutts.com in this question with currently 91 points is now nofollow that all links on SE are nofollow again?
    – the
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 9:30

2 Answers 2


My comment seems to be agreeable, so I'm posting it as an answer for additional discussion.

Nofollow should be removed from links where the post (question or answer, not comments) has passed a certain age and vote threshold.

The threshold would be reset after every edit to prevent a spammer from simply editing older questions/answers to add their link(s).

Jeff Mercado has a good point about restoring the reputable status during a rollback. This would require tracking the votes for each version of a post.

As an aside: it could prove helpful to display this vote information as part of the revision history, so that users could see how many votes each revision incurred.

As a different thought:

What about giving a new privilege to high-rep users? The privilege would be to vote (or flag) individual links as legitimate. Users should probably be prevented from voting or flagging their own links, and over time users could build a link score similar to their flag score.

A global list of acceptable locations could be stored so that if one user links to http://example.com/foo and it's accepted as "followable", another who also links to http://example.com/foo will automatically have their link followable. A different user linking to http://example.com/bar would not automatically have their link followable.

There will of course be issues with link-rot or sites with content that's changed after they've become followable. A followable link would need to be able to have its status revoked.


I like that a lot. It does no 'harm' to links in posts that do not meet the criteria (people could still click those links if they appear valuable), yet it gives a nice additional benefit for those which do.

And definitely kudos on keeping the exact details vague. No need to make gaming it too easy!

  • 11
    So far I've managed to find only one link that is missing nofollow - so they're definitely using strict measures. Commented Nov 8, 2011 at 3:37
  • 3
    @uɐɯsO, a few years later, there's quite a lot to be found. (The threshold is not simply 10; I've seen accepted posts with a lower score having nofollow removed too. I assume it also depends on the reputation of the poster, and maybe also on the age of the post.)
    – Arjan
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 16:40

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