The People At The Tail End

Seb Paquet: “It is generally accepted that giving credit for creation is important; is it the same for "link discovery credit?" Will (should) the practice of linking to sources of links come to be taken very seriously by bloggers, out of a shared concern to keep things fair and transparent, in a similar manner to standards of citation in academia? Should one link to the immediate source or make an effort to trace links back to the original source? (Is it always clear which is "the" original source?)”

I know Jay credits me when I link to and quote something without comments of my own. He is under no obligation to do so—if he quotes me, there is an expectation that he will link back to me, so that his readers can check that he's quoting and interpreting me correctly—but his policy seems to be to credit the original linker. It's an effective way—and it may be the most effective way—of connecting his readers with the weblogs he reads.

But unless you feel like connecting your readers with the weblogs you read, I see no obligation for bloggers to give a "via" link when they come across something interesting. My policy on crediting links is to not have a policy: sometimes I'll credit a link and sometimes I won't. I'd like to think that I give credit more often to weblogs that deserve more attention rather than the ones that everybody links to and reads anyway, but it's possible that most of my "via" links in the past have been to already-popular sites.

Web-based tools like Technorati and Feedster are making the "via" link fairly obsolete anyway. People could, by either copying & pasting or using bookmarklets find out where else a site or weblog entry has been linked. I use Technorati now and then to see a) if a link has been linked extensively already, making it pointless for me to link it again and, more importantly, b) to see the discussion surrounding a link. I've stopped reading sites like Slashdot, BoingBoing and MetaFilter because everybody else reads them, and it's better for the good stuff from those sites to filter down to me through other people's weblogs. Those sites, while really great (well, not Slashdot or BoingBoing, but yeah, MetaFilter) centralize discussion a little too much for my liking, whereas some of the really great discussions about the links that appear there—and the links that don't—are happening outside the SlashMetaBoing framework. The weblog revolution is happening at tail end of the power law, and sites like Technoster/Feederati—combining the names sucks, but not the ideas contained within them—will be type of sites that will help the people at the tail end come to the fore a bit more.