24 September 2009

Outbound Links - An Endangered Species?

Is it true that people no longer link to blog posts that they quote from?

Problogger seems to think so, and writes about it in an excellent article I think that every blogger should read Outbound Links - An Endangered Species? [And Why I Still Link Up]:
Linking to your sources makes your content more useful to your readers.

Good content is useful content. I’m constantly talking about how to build a successful blog you need to be producing something that is useful in some way to those reading it. By linking to the page where you take a quote or idea you’re providing your readers with the opportunity to read more on the topic or see the quote in it’s original context.

Your reader may or may not click the link - but it does give them the opportunity to explore further or learn more.

I know that as a blog reader when I’m reading a quote that I find particularly interesting that I want to learn more about who said it. If there’s no easy way to do this I think have to go to the effort of researching myself. I actually find this annoying and it creates the impression to me that the author of the content is too lazy or stingy to go to the effort themselves.

Things I read on other blogs quite often spark off my own thoughts on a topic, and so usually I like to quote a key paragraph or two, as I've done here.

Why should we do this?

Apart from the reasons suggested by Problogger, I can add a few more.
  1. That is what blogging is basically all about. a blog is a web-log, a log of web sites you have visited and want to remember, so if you don't add links, you are failing in the most fundamental purpose of a blog.
  2. They are also links to sites you want to share with others. Yes, I know sites like del.icio.us and StumbleUpon do that too, but blogging gives you more scope to add your personal comments.
  3. I'm still sufficiently involved in the academic world to try to take the advice I'm always giving to students: Cite your sources!
And when people quote something from my blog or web sites and don't link, I get pretty annoyed.

I've written articles on various topics, some in blogs and some on ordinary web pages. One of the main reasons I put them on the web is that I'm hoping that other people who are interested in the topic will read them and respond, and give me some ideas. So if someone copies them to their site, with no link or acknowledgment, then if people read them there and respond to them, I won't know, so I regard that is theft. The person who puts that stuff there without a link is stealing the responses that I should have been able to read, and posting it without citing sources is plagiarism.

So I think Problogger's post is very important for all bloggers and webmasters to read, and a hat-tip to TallSkinnyKiwi for pointing me to it. It's a very important part of netiquette.

What do you think?


Mthoko said...

Unlike the print media where a publisher checks written work prior to publishing, the net offer instant publishing with no one to check the originality of posted ideas.

James Higham said...

Yes, that's right. There's an awful lot of it going on. I had an Argentinian take my whole quiz and put it on as his own.

The Western Confucian said...

I've noticed that, too. I was a bit miffed when a short post of mine (on a minor Catholic blog) was taken word for word by one of the big guys without any acknowledgment.

6p00e54ee1ad278833 said...

I talked about the tendency of some people to redistribute blog posts on my blog last October.

Of course, for me, I think your one of your closing statements says it all. Providing outbound links to someone you quote is simply a matter of demonstrating good manners. While there are other good reasons to do it, I don't think we need more than that one.

-- Jarred.


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