Is there a reason that all links are now treated with rel="nofollow"?
This wasn't originally the case.
This is to discourage signature link spamming and similar "SEO" tricks. I think it's been in use from the beginning of the current forum software in 2006.
No it wasn't always so. It's only within the last year.
What about legitimate signature links?
No, it has been that way if not from the beginning so for a long time.
As much as I hate to disagree with you, I used to have links reported from this site to mine in Google's webmaster tools.
They have disappeared within the last year.
Maybe a glitch. Nofollow is meant to be there anyway.
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