Link-Giving: An Alternative for the Rest of Us

linksI have largely stopped thinking and writing about the Gatekeeper thing, for a few reasons.  One, it’s a tired topic.  Two, the return on investment from trying to worm your way into the so-called conversation is too low to be worthwhile.  The return on simply writing good posts and waiting is not that much higher, but it’s higher.  It’s a little like fishing.  I am a good fisherman because I am patient- something most casual fishers are not.  And third, the conversations are often boring anyway.  I just don’t care all that much about what a lot of the so-called A-Listers have to say.  Many of them have turned their blogs and Twitter feeds into nothing more than a living billboard for self-promotion.

But I just can’t resist it when a couple of A-Listers start a conversation about link-baiting.

Jason Calacanis started things off with a partially tongue in cheek and partially straight up post, talking about ways to get a link from him.  I chastised him the other day for not reaching out to mainstream media, so let me give a little credit where due.  This is funny stuff, even if it’s true:

DON’T start the post off flaming me. Start the post off by praising me, talking about how great Engadget or Netscape are, that you love my podcast, or that you thought I was a riot at some panel (you don’t even need to have been at the panel…just technorati my name and “speaking at” and you can fake it).

And this:

DO slam someone I don’t like or have had a beef with. This is a long list, but getting on my side will keep me reading your post and increase my chances of taking your link bait.

Of course, scads of people immediately start linking wildly to Jason’s post, dancing in the fleeting glow of inclusion.

I just about fell off of my chair when Dave Winer posted his rules, including this one for why he might not link to you:

3. Lack of reciprocity. If I observe over time that the linking is one-way, i.e. I link to you but even when I’m on-topic for you, I don’t get a link from you, that will dampen my enthusiasm.

That’s either the best satire I have ever read, or the biggest violation of the Goose and Gander Rule ever.  It doesn’t really matter which, because Dave and Jason talking about getting links is like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett comparing their bank accounts.  It makes them feel good, but has zero relevance for the rest of us.

So what can the rest of us do?  We could fall in line, and fawn over these guys.  We might get a link every six months or so.  Or we could just sit back and watch.

Or we could leave that party and start our own.

I don’t want to spend any effort trying to figure what I need to write to be worthy of a link from some blogostar.  That promotes bad writing, and it doesn’t work.  Linking should not be viewed as currency, and the fact that it is viewed that way by many is the single most screwed up part of blogging.  We’re not handing out MBEs here.  We’re just placing a road sign to another place someone may want to go.

So I’d rather just give links to the people I read, without making them work for it.  Here’s some link-giving to some of the blogs in my reader.  Go check ’em out.

A Consuming Experience
Amy Gahran
Assaf Arkin
Be A Good Dad
Ben Metcalfe
Ben Werdmuller
Bill Liversidge
Blonde 2.0
Brad Kellett
Chip Camden
Christopher Carfi
Claus Valca
Corey Clayton
Craig Newmark
Dave Rogers
Dave Sifry
Dave Taylor
Dave Wallace
Dwight Silverman
Earl Moore
Eric Scalf
Ethan Johnson
Frank Gruber
Frank Paynter
Fraser Kelton
Haydn Shaughnessy
Ian Delaney
Ilker Yoldas
Jackson Miller
Jake Ludington
Jeremy Zawodny
John Watson
Jon Maddox
Karl Martino
Kate Trgovac
Kevin Briody
Kevin Maney
Larry Borsato
Marc Canter
Mark Evans
Martin Gordon
Mathew Ingram
Mike Miller
Phil Sim
Randy Morin
Rahul Sood
Ric Hayman
Richard Querin
Rick Mahn
Rob Barron
Robert Gale
Ron Jeffries
Scott Karp
Seth Finkelstein
Stephen Hogg
Steve Gillmor
Steve Newson
Steven Streight
Stowe Boyd
Susan Getgood
Tom Morris
Tom Reynolds
Warner Crocker
Zoli Erdos

That’s it.  No link or master baiting required.  Just links to people because I read their blogs.

See how easy that was?

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