Thursday, May 15, 2008

Links and URLs within blog and website entires: review policy


I discussed the topic of deep linking on Feb 6, 2006 on this blog, but I thought I would reiterate my own practice. I give as much detailed information about any source as is practical in any blog post, including the hyperlink URL when it is known. With newspapers, I identify the date and usually the page and section in print if possible. When practical, I tried to quote more than one news source in a posting, but sometimes there is only one source, as with a scoop.

Many links become obsolete. Many newspapers require registration, subscription, or individual credit card payment for visitors to see the full content of older articles, as they are certainly entitled to do as owners of the content under copyright. That may happen with links that occur here.

I give links that will be valuable and provide more background details to the points I want to make. I don’t give bibliographic links just to “sell things” on the blogs, although if that happens as a matter of course, that is certainly all right. Inevitably, it will sometimes. In a few cases I will give links to URLs for motion picture websites or Amazon links for controversial books. Generally, I don’t links for products or services that have a bad “reputation” socially or that have been connected to spam.

I also don’t give links just to improve a site’s search engine ranking. Most newspapers (and the Washington DC and New York area, and to some extent Minneapolis and Dallas area papers) are more available and familiar to me than some other areas, so I may refer to them more often. These papers are already well established on the Web and their rankings would not be affected by blogger links. The same principle obviously holds true for national news services like Reuters and Associated Press. I will use the original Reuters or AP source (rather than a copy on AOL or MSNBC) when I can find it, but I can’t always find it. I do like to give links within the Blogger Community when they are relevant and credible.

Wikipedia is “controversial” in the academic community, but I personally find most of the information there quite reliable, so I sometimes refer to it. Most good Wikipedia articles themselves give original sources at the end of the articles, which visitors should follow to document the facts stated in the articles.

On my Wordpress blog at billboushka.com, I do give a lot of links for bills in progress in Congress on the non-profit site govtrack.us. I sometimes do that on the blogs. I use those references instead of the Library of Congress Thomas site because the links seem to work better for me. Sometimes Thomas URL’s have to be copied and re-entered into browsers to work.

I sometimes give direct links to my other blogs or sites for user convenience. However, visitors should know that they can navigate to other blogs very easily from a Blogger page by going to my Blogger Profile and then navigating to the other blogs. Each blog has a set of monthly archives on the left side of the page. Visitors will also find that many of the blog entries now have a “category” link at the bottom of the posting that will cull together previous postings related to the current posting from the same blog. This generally is true for most blogs published by Blogger (and similarly for Wordpress).

I have sixteen blogs on Blogger, in functional areas, and within each there are categories. This makes it possible to drill down and gave some specific categorization for postings. Several of the blogs have less frequent postings, and these blogs tend to deal with specific legal areas of special interest to me (like COPA, trademark law and domain names, network neutrality proposals, identity protection, and Internet safety, and GLBT). There is a blog for general domestic public policy issues, and another for international issues, and still another with technical issues and job search problems for information technology people (since I spent 31 years in IT). This blog is general, and covers ethical and legal trends within the Internet speech area and various kinds of philosophical issues.

The websites emphasize "reference" material that accumulates (like a personal online "encyclopedia" of political opinion, organized around my books), whereas the separate blogs are more like sections of a daily "newspaper." I do offer hyperlinks among the sites and blogs to help the user navigate between reference material and stories for any specific subject. Some media materials, movies and especially many books, have very brief reviews on the main site (doaskdotell.com) and links to more detailed reviews on the blogs, because the reviews in these cases create "news."

In general, the purpose of links is similar to that of footnotes on term papers in high school and college. Material from the original source will be paraphrased (occasionally quoted under “fair use”) to state the facts or summarize the news events that are relevant to the particular posting. The purpose of the URL link is to document source material and, in the Web environment, provide a convenient place to go for the detailed story from the original source.

Picture: My speaking at a Unitarian group in Minnesota Feb. 3, 2002

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