Focal Curve

More on Hiding Skip Links

After the recent and now-infamous WordPress hidden articles debacle, the notion of using negative positioning to hide content from visual browsers has gained a new complication to consider. Google (and other search engines, I presume) have explicit rules forbidding this kind of content “cloaking,” but as yet they obviously don’t have an automated means of detecting it or else the technique wouldn’t work for spam.

After this highly visible incident, my fear is that Google may upgrade their crawlerbot to spot hidden links (meaning it would have to crawl the CSS as well and search for a negative value on the rules applying to the links in question) and de-list the offending pages. But it’s common practice for hiding skip links, and I certainly hope the Google gods don’t penalize sites for trying to improve utility and accessibility. Can Googlebot be smart enough to tell the difference between a hidden skip link and a hidden spam link?

And just as an aside, I’ll weigh on the already much-weighed-in-upon debacle: Matt screwed up. But I’ve met Matt, and I like Matt, and I trust Matt. It was an honest and foolish gaff, and who among us can claim never to have done something dumb with the best intentions? He admitted his mistake and we can all just forgive him and get over it now. And frankly, if he managed to score some cash to put back into the WordPress project, it was worth it.

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