Google's Matt Cutts Says He Doesn't Come To WebmasterWorld Due To No URL Policy

May 26, 2010 • 9:03 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO & SEM Forum News

If you haven't heard the news, WebmasterWorld is having Feedback Day where over the course of 3 to 4 days they are seeking feedback from their users. In just a day or so, there are already 841 posts in the forum, so not too bad!

What I found interesting is that Google's Matt Cutts came in to offer his two cents, as he describes it. In short, Matt explained that he doesn't come that often to WebmasterWorld due to their "no urls can be posted" policy. Matt said:

I know I don't make it to WebmasterWorld as often these days because of the "no urls can be posted" issue. Trying to discuss ranking without being able to list/post/see specific urls makes it really hard to tell for sure what people are talking about, and increases the risk of misunderstandings. It seems like it cuts down on the ability for everyone else to assess what someone's saying.

Just my quick $0.02.

Now, every public facing webmaster and SEO forum wants official representatives from Google to participate. But WebmasterWorld is well known for their no URL policy. At the same time, Googlers always want to see specifics of what they are dealing with, so they can analyze the issue with greater clarity. On the other hand, forums are known to have been killed by spammers due to them allowing links.

Personally, I am sure there can be some type of middle ground here. The question is, is WebmasterWorld willing to relax this rule for some cases in order to bring back Googlers to their SEO forum?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Brett Tabke

05/26/2010 02:41 pm

And if we allowed open posting of urls - especially to pass to Matt - we would get over run with spam within one week. There would be so much junk posted just to get in front of Matt, we would make the Google spam report url look like childs play. - stuff to nark competitors - stuff to flood matt with a vol of reports his team couldn't handle - stuff to point at competitors just to point false allegations - floods of adult urls and such nasties - whinning complaints against successful compeitors. We have even thought of having a 'problem url' forum where all that could be posted. I don't think that would go down to well with people in the seo community as fingers would quickly be pointed. By the end of the first day, we would be into legal allegation territory. That doesn't mean we aren't open to adjusting the currently policy. We are and have bent it a very long ways in the last few years. No one has been able to come up with a litmus test or 'smell proof' method of filtering urls. If someone can write us an enforceable nonbiased url policy that allows more open posting of urls - I will be the first to signup. This is one of the major issues why we opened up Feedback days - to try to generate some new ideas on this account. Thanks Barry bt


05/26/2010 02:47 pm

I've always considered Webmaster World a joke. Brett has posted some way off base SEO theories in the past that the sycophants at WMW relished, but invariably they were all proven to be false. Like really really bad theories (meta keywords are very important, external linking is really good). We used to make fun of them at Sitepoint all the time. Additionally, the forced anonymity with no links and no mention of your business gives you absolutely no background on knowledge or experience. If you're discussing an issue and weighing opinions you probably want to know if the guy giving you advice has been doing this for 10 years and is wildly successful, or just another poser. But you can't know that. The only thing webmasterworld ever had going for it was a first mover advantage, quality wise though, it has long been the bottom of the barrel. It also has the distinction of being the birthplace of most incorrect crackpot SEO theories ever, probably because again of the anonymity effect. Someone posts some hairbrained idea and because they're not allowed to post evidence, their background, experience, etc etc etc, other people are forced to just take them at their word, and the train leaves the station. Back when I was heading up Sitepoint's SEO section for 5 years I think the most common three words you would have found after the word "WebmasterWold" would be "is a joke".

Barry Schwartz

05/26/2010 02:57 pm

I personally love WebmasterWorld.

No Name

05/26/2010 03:14 pm

Can't someone just innovate in this space? For instance, maybe when someone enters a URL, the system automatically creates a link out of it and sets NOFOLLOW... but also hides this link in some manner... where the user has to actively mouse over or click on some panel somewhere to show the hidden link. That way, there will be too many steps for typical users to follow for spammers to really get a benefit to posting the link, but legit users can still get their point across on the open forum when trying to explain the details of their situation.


05/26/2010 03:40 pm

Could you just have a single forum for site review questions, and moderate every post before it's published? Maybe a turnaround time of a week from submit to publish would be reasonable at first, since you'd be hit with a flood. And then add a limit of 1 new post per 60 days per account, to hopefully prevent people wasting theirs on BS? Just some thoughts.


05/26/2010 08:13 pm

That is more complex than it needs to be No Name. There are a variety of antispam things you can do, fairly easily, which is why most forums allow links. 1. Turn off signatures or links for non-logged in users (which happens to include search engine crawlers). SitePoint did this 7 or 8 years ago. 2. Use an antispam tool like akismet. 3. Use captchas on account creation 4. Adopt a blacklist of bad IPs, or use one of the public ones of known spammers. 5. Deny the right to create links to all users under X total posts, or X total posts + X total days of registration length. 6. Use nofollow 7. If you want to retain more link weight within site (where you'd lose it with nofollow) do something like a Two Step External Link that I invented. 8. Have good moderators. Some spam may still get through, but with good moderators you don't need to worry about it, it gets removed.

Brett Tabke

05/27/2010 03:36 am

> Turn off signatures or We've never allowed signatures on wmw. > links for non-logged in users Why break functionality because people choose not to login? >Use an antispam tool like akismet. We don't have an issue with spam because we have active moderators. > Use captchas on account creation I see where you are going, but that only stops bots. We don't have an issue with bots posting. > Adopt a blacklist of bad IPs, We don't have an issue with spam. > Deny the right to create links Then they just drop links that you never see and can't see through a redirect. This would only compound a problem. > Use nofollow We always have taken that a step further than that because all links run through a redirect and that redirect is not indexable. >If you want to retain more link weight within site Couldn't care less about 'link weight'. > Have good moderators. We do - best on the web. >Some spam may still get through Spam is not an issue. Self promotion and narking is mostly the issue. When Matt was in the forums, it was a nightmare for moderators to moderate. Links to searches, links to bad urls, people pointing out stuff that wasn't really spam. People pointing at bogus searches that people swore were spam. Then the owner of that site would come in and scream because he was getting narked out. Or the time one of our long time moderators entire set of 300 websites his team had built got nuked. >(meta keywords are very important I can not ever recall saying anything like that at all. > external linking is really good) Which most top seo's now agree is a signficant signal in the algo. Vidication...thank you thank you. hey chris, here is an example of the spam that comes with open linking. Right now, I want to link to my 26steps to 15k a day post where I predicted external linking would become important, but I don't want to spam Barry here. Although I just did, because you can do that search on Google and come up with that url. When Matt was on wmw as GoogleGuy for all those years, that is what we had to deal with daily. >the forced anonymity Use your name as you membername. You are not required to be anonomyous. > with no links and no mention of your business You can put your url on your profile and put your business name in your intrests and location. Everyone can know who you are. >ever had going for it was a first mover advantage Actually, we were the 3rd or 4th big SEO forum. Jim Wilson and SearchEngineForums was by far the first leader. Then came Doug Heil and a couple others. We really didn't tip until about 2000 - 2001. > incorrect crackpot SEO theories ever, Most of which have ended up in books - like my chapters in Google Hacks (best selling Google book of all time). >Back when I was heading up Sitepoint's SEO section for 5 years Well there you go. I am sure you just made Matt really proud. >I personally love WebmasterWorld. Thanks Barry.

haseeb najam

05/27/2010 03:57 am

what is sitepoint :P anyhow the WMW is the best to know what actually going on in google World. We have theories, we have data, we have logics and we have experiments. At Sitepoint we only have SITE TO SELL AND SITE TO BUY :P

Brett Tabke

05/27/2010 05:08 am

just to be clear: > >Back when I was heading up Sitepoint's SEO section for 5 years > Well there you go. I am sure you just made Matt really proud. I was referring to Matt Mickiewicz founder of SitePoint. I have nothing but admiration and respect for the incredible job he has done over there.


05/27/2010 07:06 am

Sounds like some sour grapes there Chris. The only reason I go to WMW and have been for years is because it has some of the best information and minds around. If you want real answers, you'll find them on WMW. If you want everything handed to you on a silver platter to GRQ without learning anything, it's not the place to be. Whatever you want to say about WMW, nothing else has even come close to creating a community that could compete with the annual PubCon convention which is the culmination to all that makes WMW great. TBH, I tried SitePoint and it's just too much advertising and promotion all other the place. All the sigs in all the threads make it too hard to read and sort the content from the crap links. Too much carnival, not enough content. Just the opposite of WMW.

Rob Abdul

05/27/2010 08:29 am

I agree with Matt's $0.02. Webmaster World is the best!


05/27/2010 02:47 pm

Why would I have sour grapes? I've hardly ever used WMW. Well Brett, I can't quite understand how you seem to have no problem with spam, but can't allow links because you fear spam. OBviously, you don't have things as well in hand as you believe. No one credible believes external links are needed. I believe Matt Cutts even disputed it in one of his video faqs a couple years ago. Another morsel that I think was sourced from WMW was the notion that certain special pages got special PR boosts, like .edu sites and whatnot, another thing discredited. I can't even count the times where I, and my fellows at SP, had to correct some bogus theory someone learned at your site. The SEO industry as a whole has been rife with misinformation for years. Too many pretenders without a solid grasp of mechanics pushing untested and unproven theories because it makes sense to them. It has gotten better lately, but the period from 2000-2005 was atrocious. I think the two times I used your site one was an argument about whether or not google used meta keywords, which all the anonymous sycophants insisted was true, I had test sites proving them wrong, but of course was not allowed to post them. The second time was just a standard argument about Google with Daniel Brandt. If you want to rehash the whole "External links helps me" argument, lets have at it, It has been at least a few years since I saw anyone claim that. What exactly do you think. Do you think linking to an authority site gives you some reverse PR? Do you think you can rank for a keyword appearing on a page you link to? Do you think the anchor text of external links is weighted higher than any other text on the page? I have actually tested these things Brett, empirically and scientifically in controlled experiments with control groups and only one uncontrolled variable at a time. You can do it too, make 10 pages, isolated with the same incoming links. Have each page be exactly the same except for a few unrelated adjectives (to achieve non-duplicate content). On 5 of the pages link to the #1 google result for the targetted keyword, on 5 include the text of the link, but don't actually link. Wait for an update, if external links help all 5 linking pages should rank higher than all 5 non-linking pages. Have fun. This is what real SEOs do, we test things, we experiment, we analyze. We don't make things up based on our best guess or rely on a survey of anonymous people we randomly attribute authority to.

Richard L

05/30/2010 10:38 pm

Chris, I know of people on WmW doing that kind of thing 10 years ago. I think some of them are out of SEO now, because they've already made their money and have other interests. I always thought sitepoint was a cheap imitation of webmasterworld. Never used it much, seems to be full of people with "lists of directories" and the like for sale. I don't see much point in personally attacking Brett Tabke for his ideas on SEO, considering he's rubbed shoulders with the best in the game, and continues to do so. A lot of the bleeding edge SEO is never seen in forums, and I find it highly doubtful you'd find more useful SEO info anywhere else than WmW.


06/19/2010 03:45 pm

I remember going to WW back in the old days 2000 maybe? I was doing some affliate commission things for fun and my idea of glory back then was getting a #1 listed on Danny Sullivan's site. Back in 2003, I was building sites for a company and later, I took a CIO job for that same company that now has closed. I am rebuilding a site and an online presence for myself and I went right back to see what the guys at WW were saying. It isn't black hat, it is gimmicks. To me it's common sense. I learned SEO back in the day when it was more of an art to make good content rank well naturally. The blackhats have tainted SEO, but at the core it is still just common sense. Look at the top sites and do what they do. The top sites aren't concerned with hoarding PR. I don't think PR is as important as it once was. I think Brett has always been the most sound whitehat SEO guy out there. Probably why googleguy came around to begin with.

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