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Wikipedia external links are all nofollow, so it seems they shouldn't have any effect, negative or positive.

But an article that I found online suggested that Google may penalize those external links.

According to that article, because Wikipedia has many mirror sites, Google will see many links to your site with same anchor text and Google may consider it as spam.

Also see this forum thread.

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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I don't think so. If it was the case, Google would penalize so many authorative websites.

Googlebot finds the rel="nofollow" attribute to the links and Google doesn't apply negative or positive effect for SEO.

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I found the article, added the links to the question, what do you think? –  Omne Jun 13 '13 at 15:14
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I don't think Google has been completely honest about the value/lack of value of nofollow links. A Wikipedia external link won't pass PageRank as mentioned by others, but it does appear to lend credibility to a site since Wikipedia is a trusted website. As discussed here, from a co-citation perspective there might be some value in the link.

Further, I don't know what you mean by "penalized". Google sometimes filters out the value of low-quality links such as from mirror websites. This can look like a penalty if the page they linked to was ranking before the filter (i.e. before Google caught on). Negating value from an external link is quite different from having a negative value from one.

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This is entirely a wrong info because Google will never consider rel="nofollow" attribute to the links. If you get a backlink from Wikipedia article then it would be useful to your site only because of visitor's traffic and not because of link juice or PR which means Google will never mind those nofollow links for both positive as well as negative impacts. If you get a rel="dofollow" link in an article which has mirror sites then it would surely affect your site's ranking.

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Just to add to this: Google definitely does not penalize a website based on rel=nofollow links pointing at it. We (I work within web-search at Google) do not use those links for any manual action, and it's even one of the ways we recommend to clean up issues with unnatural links to your site. –  John Mueller Jun 19 '13 at 17:28
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