It’s been 14 years. Can’t people learn how to link?

  • Your blog post needs to link to what it’s talking about inside the post, not in a footer. The exemplar of this failed strategy is Gawker, consistently blowing it from its first post in 2002 through this morning. As Gawker’s entire strategy in totum has been cloned all over the place, it is no surprise that its failed link strategy has also been cloned: Tropolism, the most derivative and structurally dishonest Gawker clone, duplicated it three years ago (even their archives do it), while Spectator cloned it as recently as February.
  • It could be worse: The footnoted link might simply say Read, giving you the site visitor the unsettling experience of wading through an entire blog post about another page that remains uncited and hidden.
  • The headline of your post is, by convention, a permalink to that post – unless you’re the xBlog (sic), in which the headline links to the page the post discusses.
  • It seems possible to work for Mozilla, thereby positioning oneself as a champion of the “open Web,” yet shamelessly funnel links through Digg.
  • It seems, moreover, possible to work as a newspaper and magazine journo, and occasional journalism professor, yet be so clueless of the Web as to list every link as (link). Ryan Bigge, come on down! (Click here to go fuck yourself. You may be tall, strapping, and young, but you don’t belong in this century.) I gather this non-Web nonsense is permissible because Doctorow does it, but he has a lot of annoying habits.

In their own category remain links to non-HTML (or at least non-text) sources that don’t advertise themselves as such. Nobody likes hitting a PDF or, much worse, a YouTube link by mistake. It’s entirely avoidable, and if you cause your visitors to do it anyway, you suck. Simply adding “ (PDF)” or “ (YouTube)” inside the link text will suffice, though I go a few steps beyond that.

And here’s a prediction: Writers from every site I mentioned, especially Bigge’s, will be completely unable to learn the right way to link from this very post. They haven’t learned it from any other site they’ve ever used, so at least they’re consistently inept and user-hostile.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2008.06.13 10:57. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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