The old link love she ain't what she used to be.

Old Grey MareBefore having my say on this weeks bitchmeme I thought I would wait for the situation to calm down and look back on one of the issues raised – that of where we should be linking to.

As is often the case when emotions are running high the situation can rapidly spiral out of control which is what seemed to happen yesterday. Points are made and in the effort to strike while the iron is hot things may not be said in exactly the way we would like and, as such, ambiguity can creep in causing misinterpretation.

Linking

The particular problem of linking arose as Robert Scoble linked to a conversation on FriendFeed instead of the source post by David Risley. David was unhappy with this claiming it was done to deny him the “Scoble Google Juice” – the large body of traffic that invariably follows anything Scoble discusses. I don’t wish to comment here on the rights or wrongs of what happened but feel that the issue itself should be addressed.

Now, the issue of where we should be linking to is not a new one, the last time a similar row broke out – which coincidentally involved Scoble again – was the beginning of last year when he claimed that large sites (such as Engadget etc.) didn’t link out to the small guy – he had to back track. Sue Polinksy followed this by asking if big bloggers should also be linking to the little guy instead of sticking within the A-list echo chamber, Robert followed up with his own thoughts and, at the time, the overall opinion was a resounding ‘yes’ but is this necessarily the case today?

Changes

The web has been changing considerably – aggregators and the like are forcing us to adapt to new ways of gathering information, sourcing our content and generating links to our blogs. The arguments around comment fragmentation don’t appear to be going away any time soon so what are our responsibilities? Should bloggers, as Corvida of SheGeeks suggests, make an effort to post comments at the source location and by, the same extension, should we also be linking back to the original post rather than any discussion that may relate to it? Is it just common decency to do so?

Social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Mixx and Sphinn have gotten us in to the habit of asking for votes at a location remote to our blogs in the hope that the more votes a story receives the more traffic it will generate back to our blogs. Is the process of adding Likes and Comments to FriendFeed so different?

Signal to noise

The recent discussion about the noise level on FriendFeed has prompted some to suggest that there should be a way of filtereing our streams with maybe only those items that have been liked or have comments showing. This would be a way of filtering by popularity – a similar thing to how Digg and the like operate on their front pages.

If an influential blogger were to link to a conversation on FriendFeed rather than the orignal post and those who followed that link found 30 empassioned comments waiting for them would they not feel the need to check out the source to see what all the fuss was about?

Are there any answers?

The way we use the web has altered and opinions that were valid a year ago may not hold the same weight as they used to. How long before our source content becomes fragmented rather than just the comments? Will we see a move towards posting away from our blogs (we already do guest posts) so that the source itself is in the same place as the reactions? A FriendFeed blog anyone? Could something like this even spell the beginning of the end for blogs as we know them?

Image by David (North60).

The old link love she ain't what she used to be.

May 10, 2008

6 thoughts on “The old link love she ain't what she used to be.

  1. Nice post. Just to clarify my point, though. The issue is not whether Scoble is denying Google juice (I kinda think that’s why Scoble didn’t link) but there is a more important matter of simply linking to the source. What Scoble did was link to the noise rather than link to the post which started it. And again, it would be like a newspaper doing all stories based on what people walking down the street said. It isn’t the source.

    I think it is just a matter of common sense blogging.

    I don’t think blogs are going anywhere. There will always be the opinion leaders and the readers. It is human nature.

    Last blog post..No, Links are NOT Dead, Scoble and Gillmore

  2. Ok, less about where comments should be (which is a related, but different issue) and more about response links.

    If you post a good story, and I post a reaction to it, shouldn’t I be obligated to link to your original story, and not to an echo of it on some other site?

    After all, that other site did not post the original content, you did. Seems like a basic attribution issue to me.

    Kevin

  3. It’s perfectly fine to link to other discussions, but I think it’s an obligation in a way to to link back to the original source for the reader’s convenience. It’s only fair and right. And shouldn’t we be doing what’s right instead of always going for what we feel like doing?

    Even if users would feel the need to check out what the fuss is about, personally, I wouldn’t want to make that decision based on the amount of comments some one has left and on Friendfeed no less. I want to make that decision for myself. After reading the first opinion about the article, I wouldn’t need a second. I’d either go check it out or leave it alone. The amount of comments the article has elsewhere or even on it’s blog shouldn’t help me decide whether or not it’s worthy.

    Last blog post..More Incredibly Unique Twitter Projects III

  4. Colin says:

    I wouldn’t go as far as to say it is an obligation but it is certainly the decent thing to do, I will personally always do so. Don’t think I’m advocating link anarchy.

    But, as is usually my way, I am asking the question “what if?”. The way we are going with social bookmarking sites, aggregators, etc. a lot of the action – and even focus – is being drawn away from the blog and perhaps it is something that may get worse.

  5. How many users does Friend Feed have, anyway? 5,000? Seriously, I do wonder how many are there now and how many will be added.

    Maybe this is not going to be a huge issue in the long run. We don’t know for certain if microblogging and lifestreaming are going to hit the mainstream or not. Unless the tool becomes so pervasive, perhaps the dispersion of comments is just a price to pay for using Friend Feed. Just a thought.

    Last blog post..Catch the brainwaves of Mathew Ingram

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