The Link Blog Experiment

For the last couple of years here I’ve tried out the link blogging style popularized by John Gruber’s Linked List. I’m not alone – many other bloggers likewise use this style to add short commentaries to the links they share with their readers. In the case of John Gruber and Jim Dalrymple, the linked blog is part of their business. For me, it was an opportunity to share things I liked or found interesting.

I enjoy the linked post blogging style and I get tremendous value out of the sites that use it effectively. However, I don’t know that it works for my site. And looking at my site analytics, my suspicions are confirmed. Most people don’t come to my site because of a link post, they come for the content.

Chris Bowler, who recently migrated blogging platforms, reevaluated his linked posts and wondered about their utility on his blog. He writes:

I wrote linked posts for two reasons. To share what interests me and to bring attention to the work of others. It’s clear that my Twitter account is a much better place for this sort of sharing, while my own site is a place for content created by me. Content that, God willing, brings value that is more lasting.

My own thinking is going in the same direction. Twitter already serves as a great space for conversations with colleagues and friends, but also works as a place of discovery. Twitter makes much more sense for me to share items, and is also dead simple with the Twitter bookmarklet (unlike my blog, which requires me to futz with Jekyll, write the post, fix any formatting, deploy the update, and double-check that everything worked). Plus, I’ve come to really enjoy using the Save Publishing bookmarklet by Paul Ford, which looks for and grabs strings of text that fit the Twitter character limit. I’m sympathetic to Shawn Blanc’s argument that tweet lifespans are incredibly short, but for a one-off item of interest Twitter works perfectly.

However, I might find a link I feel deserves a longer comment than 140 characters allows. In such case, I’ll still share the link here but not in the format I’ve been using. Instead, I’ll create content around the link – what Ben Brooks called the Kottkeian linked list. Everything that will appear on this site will be an article, while some articles might be specifically about a link. I will still keep the link in question prominent, but no longer in the title as it is now. The old-style linked posts will remain as they are, as will the Archive which separates out all posts that are explicitly linked items from the content items.

I’m not bound to the DF-style linked list. I make no money off this site, and I’m not using linked blogging to maintain consistent traffic (and revenue). Writing here is done purely for my pleasure, but I want the content here to have lasting value. I’m not sure sharing links they way I had been supports that goal. I want this space to support my writing and to use this environment to continue learning how to write.

24 February 2013 · @jaheppler