The Problem with Link Blogs (Plus Five Link Blogs That Rock)
Post from April 6, 2007 (↻ June 12, 2021), filed under Everything Else.
Link blogs suck because they don’t provide any content. Link blogs suck because they just jump on the back of people who actually create content, with few exceptions. Link blogs nonetheless play an important role in the hypertext ecosystem by mixing and working up entire informations spaces, bringing good stuff (back) to the surface. And thus, every content provider’s also happy about link blogs, as must be search engines for obtaining more votes for relevant documents.
Link Blog Schizophrenia
So what am I talking about (while entirely ignoring spam link blogs)? I merely want to point out two things, as described above:
On the one hand you may define link blogs as blogs that most of the time publish rather short posts like “hey, check this out, click here” or “look what’s here, I fully agree” and that—you name it—include a link to the actual resource (outside respective blog). (Bonus: The best link blogs contain tons of “yah that also helped me” comments, too.) Since link blogs are gregarious animals in most people’s feed readers, covered by dozens of other sources where you already heard about the document in question, link blogs can turn into a waste of time for both authors and visitors.
On the other hand, link blogs can be helpful for prioritizing and distributing content, and they can thus be important. Link blogs can actually help in finding the best content, becoming an good place to go for certain topics. But this really is so rare compared to the sheer amount of link blogs that I had a hard time even finding five good (outstanding!) link blogs, shown below.
Improving Link Blogs
One thing that helps improving a link blog is to increase the post text to link ratio, meaning that there must be more “transfer,” more input from the author. This works.
Exceptions Prove the Rule…
…so here are at least five blogs that long proved to be valuable:
InfoDesign. Hammers out design, usability, user experience, and information architecture related posts that would otherwise stay out of sight.
Max Design and their links for light reading. Struggled with claiming that this is a link blog, but just regarding “links for light reading,” it is. Must-subscribe collection of mostly web development related links, great backup for your overview on current development.
Bruce Schneier. Security guru with a high level rhythm of security and security technology related link posts to articles, studies, whatever. If you don’t want to dig deep into security, this is a great (link) blog.
Boing Boing: Classic. Boing Boing really built an excellent link blog, garnished with own and reader views. The content being picked definitely makes Boing Boing a “directory of wonderful things.”
Einfach für Alle (German): Best German link blog on accessibility and web development. Short posts, but to the point and generally linking to content of major quality.
What’s your opinion? What are your favorite link blogs?
I’m Jens, and I’m an engineering lead—currently manager for Developer Experience at LivePerson—and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
If you have a question or suggestion about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message. Thank you!
Sorry, but this rant is pure
[edited]. Linkblogs are as good and bad as blogs with long or short postings. As there are many really good blogs on this planet it is nearly impossible to catch all good postings all by yourself. How should you know? So I am happy to see postings with links to good readings. Maybe someday there’ll be a link to your blog, too.
Linkblogs - as you call them - do something very important: they reduce the complexity of the blogosphere and they don’t claim to have the smartest ideas themselves but they link to good postings.
After reading this rant I don’t understand your point. You hate linkblogs but on the other hand name exceptions that provide quite a huge amount of links. So what’s the beef? Were you just in a bad mood?
Well, I prefer good linkblogs over such rants.
On April 8, 2007, 9:55 CEST, Keegan said:
Understand your point. Almost agreed. Link blogs as you call them might be useful but rather become bothering. Fair enough.
On April 9, 2007, 9:05 CEST, james kingsted said:
I see you point link blogs aren’t really that helpful, their is the exception to the rule but most of these blogs aren’t useful! I do agree with you that it would help if they did increase their post text to link ratio. I mean come on would it hurt them to just say something. but if they point to good resources then I guess I can forgive them a little. maybe just a little!
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