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