Using Linked List Posts to Build a Blog You can Be Proud Of

A post from Marcelo Somers titled The Linked List Cancer has spawned a lot of discussion this week about the art of blogging. The most frequently quoted part of Mr. Somers’ post seems to be:

The problem is, we can’t all be Daring Fireball – we can’t get away with posting a witty headline and a blockquote 5-10 times a day. We’ve adopted John’s concept of linking, but not the idea that we need to tell a bigger story on our sites.

Various bloggers have since followed up. Kyle Baxter seems to pretty much agree with Somers:

There’s no reason to link to something unless it’s something readers probably haven’t come across already or you can provide a unique perspective on it. Only link to something when you’re adding some value.

while, Marco Arment seems to take a different approach:

Rather than letting my links tell a story arc with minimal commentary, I use link posts as a formatting convenience when I have a paragraph or three in response, but not enough material or time for an article. If I don’t have anything meaningful to say about a link, or if Gruber already did a better job of commenting on it, I’ll usually pass on it.

Personally, I agree most with Stephen Hackett’s take

A link is my way of saying to you, the reader, that I think the article is worth your time and attention, and here on the Internet, those are everyone’s two most important possessions.

That sounds very similar to what I want to do with my links.

The discussion about linked list posts also made me think back to the excellent SXSW presentation from Merlin Mann and John Gruber about “turbocharging” your blog. The thing I remember most about that talk was that a site creator should think about who their audience is. When I started this site, I imagined my audience as being someone who wants to sit down, open the site in Flipboard, and see a mix of stories about tech, sports, comics, general news, and entertainment. In other words, it would be a site that collects all of the columns, stories and news that I would want to read myself.1 The linked list format allows me to accomplish this while giving proper attribution to the content’s original authors. For that reason, I anticipate continuing to post linked list posts for quite some time.

  1. I have my site in my RSS reader to make sure that posts show up at the proper time time (and give them an extra last second proof read.) I frequently see a link in my reader and think “Ooh, that looks awesome. I want to read that,” only to find out it is a link from my RSS feed.