Barnes & Noble officially launched how-to site Quamut this week, and it’s already attracting link spammers.
The main service offers online guides that cover more than 1,000 topics written by experts in each field. Guides include illustrations and pictures and can be purchased as PDF’s or laminated how-to sheets. It’s a reasonable offering; nothing ground breaking but clean, thorough, and usable.
Quamut also offers a user-generated how-to wiki with similarities to Squidoo, but with no revenue sharing model for contributors. With no revenue sharing model there’s no obvious reason why someone would contribute to the Wiki (after all there’s no for the good of humanity angle like Wikipedia), but one week in free Google juice has become a driving force behind user contributions. Around half of all pages in the Quamut Wiki tested included links to external services, most clearly focused on gaining Google juice, for example links on terms like search engine optimization and web design (page here). A check of the source code on these pages show that links are not tagged link=nofollow.
B&N will likely crack down on this shortly, but it’s a lessoned learned: anywhere you offer unmoderated user contributions without safeguards, someone will always end up trying to exploit the situation.