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August 10, 2007

Links and linkage: Can too much of a good thing ever be anything other than wonderful?

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Mark Frauenfelder, founding editor of the world's most popular blog, Boing Boing, thinks so.

In his superb new book, "Rule The Web," among his tips for running a popular blog is the following:

    Limit the number of links you have in an entry

    On Boing Boing, we usually try to include just one link per entry, and place it at the bottom of the entry. That's because each entry should be about one idea, not a bunch of scattered thoughts with links going in all different directions across the Web. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, and sometimes you really do need to have two or more links in an entry for comparison purposes, but the "one-entry/one-link" restriction is a good starting point.

......................

It's also a good starting point for an explanation of why I believe that "more is never enough" when it comes to linkage.

That's how I interpreted Waldo Jaquith's advice early on, in response to my email re: how to get more readers.

More precisely, his words were, "Link, link, link!"

So that's what I've been doing ever since.

Sometimes I go into link frenzy, a state defined here by trying to link more and more words in a post to the point that a nearly-completed entry takes an hour or even longer sometimes to be finalized because me and my crack research team can't stop ourselves from adding just one more.

The thing is that I like to make each link count: that is, it needs to be spot-on, illustrative or humorous but for sure the best possible thing out there.

That can take a while.

But hey โ€” you're worth it.

There's a second, increasingly relevant reason why I believe more linkage is the way to go.

That's the rise of more usable hand-held Internet connectivity, most notably via the iPhone but also with the appearance a host of other small devices, among them my new Nokia N800, about which more another time.

(Long story short re: this device โ€” it's sensational, cheap at $375 or thereabouts).

If you're using a finger or a stylus to get places online, it's a heckuva lot easier to click on a link than to tap out an endless domain name.

Trust me on this.

So, you tell me if I should adopt Frauenfelder's philosophy and cut way back on linkage โ€” or not.

August 10, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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Comments

Please don't.

Posted by: Flautist | Aug 11, 2007 12:01:50 AM

Mark's point is a good one, but it doesn't represent a different level of quality, just a different approach. More than anything else, it reflects a totally different philosophy than your own. Mark goes for focused blog entries that cut right to the heart of things, letting the weird and the wonderful stand on their own. You prefer a more frantic approach, connecting seeming unrelated things and taking little trips on the way there ("but I digress"), making the world seem a little smaller each time. Mark couldn't take your approach any more than you could take his. It'd be all wrong.

Posted by: Waldo Jaquith | Aug 10, 2007 11:39:51 PM

Judie stated it well. My vote is for links. I often hover over them to see where it may take me, then decide to go down that rabbit hole, or not. I find them helpful.

Posted by: mattp9 | Aug 10, 2007 12:55:05 PM

One of the things that aggravates me most while surfing is to read a post about a place or a product, or to see a mention of something that goes along with the topic, but there is no easily found link to purchase or explore.

If you mention something that you think compliments a post you are making, then by all means link to it. If it piques my interest, then I will click the link; if I am not interested, I won't click.

Don't make me tap out the address, don't make me Google it, just gimme the darn link already. ;-)

Posted by: Judie | Aug 10, 2007 12:14:36 PM

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