I’ve written about Coopetition a few times. It’s one of my favorite topics when business change is on the table, and depending on how you view it, coopetition is either very easy or almost impossible to understand.
In a nutshell, the idea is that you don’t really have competitors any more. Now, coopetition has created a business environment where you find a way to work with others who formerly looked like competitors, but are now viewed as collaborators—even if there’s a zero-sum game for your shared potential customers.
Coopetition isn’t all that new an idea, but it’s the Internet and our new incredibly short attention spans that’s finally brought it to an easily explained place. I mentioned last week that CNet Managing Editor Jon Skillings had actually asked me to read their material and take the extra time needed to comment, but not to identify myself. Ridiculous. In adding (invited!) opinion to a post you add value to it both by expanding the readers’ minds and by keeping the readers on the post’s web site longer.
So here’s the next step: there’s a piece of code that can be added to Internet content that tells Google and other search engines that they should ignore links. That code is called NoFollow, and I can’t think of a good reason to use it.
OK, I can, but it doesn’t work when business change and coopetition are brought into play. NoFollow doesn’t stop a link from working, so if you comment on something you find on the Internet and include a link to back up your opinion that link will still do what you expect. But it does enable the site adding NoFollow to links to make your opinion “not count”.
And of course the reason to do that is to maintain a position of superior influence. In cases where you’re trying to cut down on SPAM, NoFollow could have a place, but there are other tools to handle that and I promise you every big web site uses them. And they work better than NoFollow.
I’m all for winning. But NoFollow isn’t creating a long-term win, and as people come to understand that and call its users on the fact that they are saying “we want your opinion here to make us look important, but it doesn’t count” it’s going to backfire.
NoFollow: Don’t use it. And don’t stand still for other who short-circuit business change by doing so.