No blog is an island unto itself.

January 29, 2007 — 2 Comments

Over the weekend Robert Scoble started a big bushfire, claiming that big blogs don’t link to other blogs. He’s right, but unfortunately for Scoble he aimed his gun in the wrong direction at wounded some friendly combatants, in particular Engadget and Gizmodo, who in return are really, really pissed. But I digress somewhat, because Scoble is right, there’s a whole pile of blogs out there who *don’t* link to the competition.

Easy reference: the whole 901am/ Duncan Riley/ Blog Herald article at The Inquirer. The new owners of The Blog Herald “accidently” deleted links to 901am. Poor form, but it’s not my intention to drag up the story again, but to note that petty linking policies are increasing. Why? Mature blogosphere = lots of competition = cut throat competition. Bloggers, particularly newer bloggers (say who weren’t around 4-5 years ago) who never really got to experience the wonderful community that was dominant when the blogosphere was small no longer see a need to follow the once established norms.

This is what I told the Inquirer:

“John Donne wrote that no man is an island unto himself, and likewise no blog is an island unto itself. Blogs are built around linking; it’s the ecology that has driven the phenomenal growth in blogging over the past five years. Absolutely blogs should link to competitors, even small ones and new ones. When I owned The Blog Herald, I even went out of my way to highlight the competition because to write a blog about blogging you need to embrace the diversity that the blogosphere provides?¢‚Ǩ¬¶ if you’re not a believer then you’re not going to go very far. It’s also good karma,”

And yet more and more people don’t follow this ethos. Linking to your competition is seen as giving them a leg up, instead of how it should be seen: sharing the love, and sharing your audience. Karma is real in the blogosphere: share links and most times you’ll get links back, share viewers and you’ll get new viewers back.

One last note, and it’s an old gripe with Engadget, and that’s the process of lazy linking. I can’t say for sure that it’s still the case (I’m talking 2 years ago), but what Engadget use to do is only link to a story on blog A when blog A had actually taken the story from blog B. Blog A would get all the traffic, and yet the blog who broke the story (or created get the idea) got no link love and no traffic, despite having done the hard work. The concept of a via: link use to be foreign most of the time at Engadget, and indeed other big blogs often acted in the same way (at the time I saw Boing Boing amongst many partake in lazy blogging). As a then content owner and creator there was nothing really that got me more angry then seeing a story on Engadget which we broke with links to someone else. I’d think it’s potentially worse still again today, because a lot of B grade blogs just rip stories now without crediting….sure, that means that it’s not all Engadget’s fault, but it does encourage content theft and plagiarism.

Food for thought.

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