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Lessons In Linking With Robert Scoble

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The fastest way to anger the collective hive-mind that is the blogosphere is not to link to it. The second fastest way to anger the blogosphere is to accuse others of not linking to it. The lesson there is that not linking is the unpardonable sin, and PodTech.net’s Robert Scoble stepped forward over the weekend to throw the first stone.

Too bad the blogosphere is also a glass house.

It’s a little tough to follow Scoble’s initial Saturday rant entitled “Big gadget sites don’t link to blogs,” what with the out-of-sequence numbered updates and so many strike-throughs that the post looks like it was built around railroad tracks.

The saga begins with a three-part video webcast at the Scoble Show, which included a walking tour of Intel and the scoop on Intel’s development of a 45-nanometer processor. Popular gadget blog Engadget posted their own news the following day with no link love for the Scobleizer. Engadget said they didn’t find the videos newsworthy.

Worse, neither did the New York Times, whose article about the subject was linked to en masse by bloggers, all of them committing Unpardonable Blogosphere Sin #2, selling out your buddies for the mainstream media.

And so, the Court of Scoble was called to order, a list of non-linking blogs and publications read before the public for judgment. List of defendants: Engadget, Gizmodo, Slashdot, AnandTech, Hot Hardware, Daily Tech, Silicon Valley Sleuth, Tech News Journal, PCLaunches, BDUO, GPUWiki, SEO Blogger, Fanboy Tech Web, Bit Tech, ZDNet, Digg, JD Lasica, Overclock.net, Vinnie Mirchandani, Flexbeta, ITNews.

Well, he’s at least thorough in his calling out, even if he had to go back and apologize to Engadget and Gizmodo, admitting he had gone “overboard.” Interesting. That doesn’t usually happen until March. Anyway, you gotta admire the stones.

On Sunday, Scoble chronicles his own flogging, while creating a detailed list of those that ignored his video in favor of the New York Times, which forced perhaps a more honest blogosphere than he was looking for.

Among the more blunt responses:

David Krug: Robert Scoble a guy I really like is pissed off about not getting links about some boring story about Intel. . . Here’s the problem. I find PodTech so boring on occassion I could fall asleep watching just about every video. They are so so so long. I want shorter interviews that tell me why stuff works. Not a full on interview about the interior decorating features of Intel.

Matthew Ingram: But the fact is that the New York Times story, which Scoble craps on everybody for linking to instead of him, does a better job of explaining why it’s important than Scoble’s videos do.


Ouch.

Ryan Block, managing editor at Engadget, brings the situation back to earth a bit:

. . .that brings up another interesting facet of new media: linking to sites as an aspect of editorial. I view linking as an extension of our editorial, and as such it falls into place with our editorial decision-making. When we link to a site, that’s a tacit affirmation of quality as deemed by Engadget’s editorial standards. Because people trust us not to lead them astray, we have a pretty transparent standing NSFW linking policy.


Though perhaps inadvertent (but maybe not), Scoble has brought out some valuable lessons in this wild west, and hopefully, that takes the sting out a bit for him.

Lessons:

1. Link to bloggers and they’ll love you for it.

2. Find the earliest source, link to it.

3. It’s okay to ignore the chain: Blogger 1 writes a sentence, links to Blogger 2 who also wrote a sentence and linked to Blogger 3, who maybe has two sentences about the topic and links to Blogger 4, who began the discussion. Skip Bloggers 1-3, link to Blogger 4.

4. Links are an editorial decision, i.e., a silent but poignant way to validate one source, and by default, invalidate another by not linking.

5. Sometimes content is overlooked. Sometimes it is ignored (I’m talking to you New York Times!). But it’s difficult to tell which has happened and why.

6. A good old fashion blog-fight can get you a lot of attention.

7. But depending on your position and situation, it’s not always a good idea to start one.

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