Thursday, January 8, 2009

Link/quote etiquette

A reader who is also a relatively new blogger e-mailed to ask:
If I cross post something from your site, do I need your permission? or at least a good link or two to the work in question as well as a hat tip.
The etiquette of linking, quoting and hat-tipping has been explained by several people, including Ace of Spades:
Basically, I think that when you link someone else's find or analysis, you're permitted to excerpt a taste of what they're quoting or saying, but it's always important to leave something fairly important behind to click on. After all, if you just quote all the good parts, you've left your audience with no reason to click on the link-- the blog that tipped you gets the link, for what that's worth, but very little traffic at all.
Ace points out that one of the reasons Instapundit drives so much traffic is that his links are often opaque -- the word "Heh" being the extreme example -- and he very seldom quotes more than a sentence or two of another blogger's work. The link-to-text ratio is high.

So Ace's "Leave Something Juicy Behind" rule applies: Don't swipe somebody's whole post, or quote so much of it that there's no reason for the reader to click the link.

Also, when the point of your post is specifically to call attention to something clever a fellow blogger has said -- rather than to address the underlying news story -- a short post is better than a long post. In other words, I'm not going to get much traffic off your link if you quote me and then add a 600-word rant of your own (see this post about Little Miss Attila as an example of the shorter-is-sweeter principle). On the other hand, if something I write inspires you to a 600-word rant, well, I guess your rant is a thing in its own right -- but I likely won't get as much traffic from the link.

HAT TIPS & LINKBACKS: I try to be scrupulous about hat-tips, but I get so much stuff from Memeorandum that it seems almost redundant to write "via Memeorandum" every time. And I guess I sometimes slack off about crediting Hot Air for videos. But those are personal lapses you don't want to emulate vis-a-vis hat-tipping me, LOL.

Generally, when another blogger links me and I notice the linkage on SiteMeter, I will add an update with a link back to the linker. (Call this the "Full Metal Jacket" Reach-Around Principle of Blog Reciprocity.) The reason I do linkbacks is because Blogger software doesn't have the "trackback URL" feature and installing a separate trackback program is a hassle. I'm not sure how much traffic is produced by a linkback, but every link adds to your Technorati rankings, and that counts for something, right?

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