Saturday, June 4, 2011

Click here to add link

There's lots of talk about linking. Link, link, link – it's what Bora Z calls the "currency of the web" and a fundamental element in journalism these days. Link out to sources, to scientific papers, to interesting videos or more comprehensive explainers. Linking establishes credibility, trust, and with everything online, it's easier to do than ever before.

So linking is important, got that. But sometimes the writer of a story doesn't either a) know the best places to link, or b) care enough to fill his/her story with useful links. So why is there no easy mechanism for other people (not the original author), to add links themselves, after the story has been published? Someone could be reading the piece an think - oh! I know a great explanatory blog post on exactly that topic, or man, I know a great infographic that illustrates exactly that point, or wow, I wished she had linked to the original study, it took me 15 min to track it down. This wouldn't have to be a free-for-all link fest littering stories with useless spam – it could be moderated by the author.

Kinda like Facebook and photo tagging. Facebook lets you tag yourself or friends in photos that you didn't take, and the request goes to the original photographer, who then approves the tag or not. Couldn't links work the same way?

"So-and-so wants to add a link to your story." [Accept] [Don't Accept]

Seems simple enough to me, and for all I know this already exists in some way shape or form. But as long as stories can be edited and updated after the fact (they certainly can online) and as long as the author wants to make his/her story the most useful as possible, there should be some sort of "add link" mechanism, in addition to regular comments. Now... who knows how to make this happen?

26 comments:

  1. Great idea! I think the difficult part to engineer for this kind of thing would be targeting it to a specific part of the text and maintaining that data. However, if it were just a recommended link with no targeting data, it would probably be much easier.
    (not a coder, just guessing!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why not just offer the links in the Comments, and let the author insert it into their post if they want to?

    If the author is too inexperienced to insert the link themselves, they're probably not ready to deal with links inserted by others.

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  4. In the majority of cases wouldn't you just get spammed with people trying to push their agendas?

    In my opinion, links are good for taking you on to extra resources - the article itself should ideally contain enough facts for you to understand the story in itself. If you're after extra info you'll probably be willing to hunt in the comments a little?

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