MLK Link Troubles

    January 22, 2007

While Phil Lenssen brilliantly handled this particular subject over at Google Blogoscoped, the facts bear repeating (sorry Greg):

In a move of staggeringly poor research, the Rock the Vote site updated their index page with tribute to MLK, complete with a link to the Stormfront site we mentioned last week. In their blog, the RTV braintrust acknowledged their mistake while trying to pass the buck to Google’s search results – “But appearances (and, apparently, popular results on Google) are deceptive.

Now, far be it for me to suggest actually clicking the link before using it, but vicariously blaming Google because their developer didn’t check what he was linking to is pretty sad. A quick Google search for the Martin Luther King, Jr. keyphrase reveals the site in question is still on the first page, but they are not the first result (at least at my datacenter).

Perhaps the address of the link used by RTV was more desirable than the listings above it, but that does not excuse their lack of a follow-through link check. Furthermore, for reasons expanded on in Lenssen’s post, Google should include sites like these because I really don’t think we want a watered-down, censored-for-the-Chinese web index from the most popular search engine on the planet.

Links are where the developers come in. If you are placing links within a website you are designing, shouldn’t you at the very least know where they are going? Of course, the RTV site removed the offending links, but not before Google cached it… giving Stormfront the link love they so desire.

Perhaps we (as in every designer, developer, blogger or link builder) should just take Rand’s advice and put “nofollow” on everything.