Linking Etiquette/Ethics for Blogs: The Last Word
Are you a Stinker Linker?
Links are the lifeblood of the blogosphere. They nourish us and keep us connected to one another. They give us purpose for blogging and are the very stuff that we need to thrive on.
Imagine for a moment an internet without hyperlinks. We would only be disjointed bits of electrons floating in the ethosphere with no way to find one another.
Google would not exist because it would serve no purpose without links. Neither would Technorati, because without links how would it be able to keep us non a-listers in our place? What a blogosphere indeed!
Today I’m going to discuss the need for a definitive linking etiquette/code and why I believe the blogosphere is heading down the wrong path. I see basically five schools of thought out there about linking:
1. SEO types who tell us how we should link to improve our traffic and pagerank.
2. Blogpreneurs who tell us to link only to blogs that can help us to get ahead or to partners.
3. A-listers who rarely link out of their little cliques so as not to dilute their pagerank and keep their influence, much like the so-called royal families of old who married their cousins to keep the wealth and power within the family.
4. Huggy Bears: Then there are those who see linking as a form of reward. A hug so-to-speak reaching out with a gift to a friend or a random act of kindness.
5. Ethical Bloggers who adhere to a code not unlike the rules for listing sources in a bibliography when writing a book or a college paper. Ethical bloggers do their best to link to sources without exception that have inspired us to write, or those from whom we have gleaned information to write our posts.
Let’s look at the SEO type first. These bloggers spend their time analyzing search engine algorithms and give us tips on how we can better optimize our blogs and the best way to link to improve our traffic and pagerank. SEO types can be further divided into Black Hat (the bad guys of course) or White Hat (the good guys). Although the White Hat types are not bad on the face of it, and neither is it bad to (legitimately) optimize your blog, the problem is it still only represents one part of the linking equation.
Blogpreneurs on the other hand who promote linking only under certain conditions have an alternate purpose for blogging. Their reason for blogging is to make money by exploiting the blogosphere. They are not in it just for the joy of blogging.
They will go to great lengths to create their own blogarchy (or network as some like to call it) to acquire enough traffic and authority so as to be considered experts to sell you their courses, products, speaking engagements or to click on their ads.
They are masters at creating titles that give us the impression they are there to help us, but in reality they pad their posts with keywords that they know will draw traffic like flies on doo-doo (words like make money, success, etc).
Albeit there is nothing wrong with making money per se, they go too far when they tell us to only link under certain conditions (i.e. within their network of partners) under the guise of impressive buzzwords like “values” or “branding”.
They use it as an excuse to shut out their competitors or those who have dared to criticize them or refuse to play their game according to their rules. They rarely if ever will link to their competitors and their so-called linking strategies are completely self-serving.
A-listers? Well what hasn’t already been said about them. We all know they are just a bunch of self-serving egoists, and it’s all about us groveling at their beckoned feet. They wield links sparingly like a king uses its scepter, doling it out at their pleasure to the dogs begging for a bone at the dinner table.
Huggy Bears: Those of us who link to our friends or who we want to become our friends. There’s nothing wrong with that from what I can see but it is still a narrow view of the blogosphere.
The Final Word:
The problem that I see with numbers #1 through #3 of the above is that they create splintered factions within the blogosphere for their own self-serving reasons. Neither do they care about ethics when it comes to linking.
That is the reason why I created the Blokester Network. To give a voice to neglected bloggers who can’t seem to break out the box that the #1 through #3 crowd have put them in.
So where does the Bloke stand on the list? I subscribe to a combination of numbers #1, #4 and #5 on the list.
I believe in optimizing my blog but I do not only link to those who can improve my pagerank or influence within the blogosphere.
I believe in linking to a blogger if they have written a great post or have a passion for blogging regardless if their blog in general meets my approval.
Most importantly, I believe in linking to sources that have inspired me to write or I have used their information regardless if I have quoted their exact words, whether I like them or not, agree with the general content of their blog, if they can improve my pagerank, or whatever. That is just proper blog etiquette.
Or like I’ve already said (paraphrased) in a previous post …
Is it appropriate to justify NOT linking to another blog under certain circumstances? For example, certain crowds in the blogosphere will use me as a source for their information but they will not link to me because they’re pissed that I’ve criticized them. That is just plain and simply WRONG.
Trying to justify criteria for not linking like the author has suggested is just another excuse to create elitist blogarchies that shut out the rest of the blogosphere for their own personal gain, and I’m not falling for it.
Neither should we only just link to those who are within our little clique, who always agree with us, or we happen to like, or can help our pagerank, or to climb up the social/corporate ladder.
We should not discriminate based on pedigree, pettiness or egos. The blogosphere is supposed to be a “conversation” and like it or not we are all interrelated one way or another…
Instead of building walls around our blogs why don’t we build bridges instead?
So what kind of a linker are you? Do you link with no strings attached or are you a Stinker Linker? Are you a bridge builder or a brick layer? Do you think we need a Linking Code of Ethics, and what do you think it should be?