Link Post Guilt

Shawn Blanc lays out his feelings about link posts on his site:

The fact of the matter is: there’s no right or wrong here. Lopp, Bowler, Brooks, and so many others out there have spent time evaluating what they want to focus on. And so I thought I’d share briefly about why I personally am keeping my link posts here.

I’ve stayed out of this fray until now because it always felt like arguing about your favorite color.1 There’s been plenty of pontificating about the demise of original content in a world of link blogs. I hear it in podcasts and read it on the web. The concern seems to be that it’s mindless chatter designed to fill out an archive with something — anything — that looks like work but adds no value.

Chris Bowler:

If you’ve written a DF-style blog for several years, the number of linked-list style posts can really add up. But do they have lasting value?

Sadly, no.

A quick review of Mint proved this to be true. Linked items are not the top sources of traffic, nowhere near it even. This makes perfect sense - other writers will not link to links of original work. Instead, they link to the end destination.

But here’s the truth for me: If Shawn stopped writing link posts, I probably would stop thinking about his site. I care about his opinions precisely because he posts links. A link post is like a book recommendation. It actually means something when it comes from someone I already respect. It also tells me a bit about the person making the recommendation.

The Internet is one big experiment in attention capitalism. If a site consistently links to Kottke or Daring Fireball, then that site’s market share is going to get pretty small. Most people are either already reading Kottke and Gruber or a hundred other sites will link to them anyway. But if I find a site that links to something truly out of the ordinary, I’m going to give them some of my attention. If they say smart things about those links I’ll probably give them a great deal of my attention.

The link posts tell people what you care about. Lined up end to end, the titles of link posts tell a story about the person sharing them. Either they care about things or they don’t. The type of post doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to me. It’s the Internet.

  1. Blue…No, yellooooooooooooooowwwww! ↩︎