Listening to Steve Gillmor's latest diatribe against linking during the recent Gillmor Gang podcasts (part 1, part 2, part 3), I'm left just scratching my head about exactly what it is he's trying to get across. What I hear back from the other side of the argument is a list of practical, logical reasons why linking is a good thing. As always, I side for practical and logical - such is the nature of an engineer I guess. It appears that Steve thinks that by linking out to someone else (or 'sending them away' as he put it) in fact hurts more than helps your reputation. Here's my take:
1. By linking out to referenced work by others, you can back up the statements you are making. It tells me that you've done at least some homework. It tells me that you may have considered more than one side of the issue. To me, it builds your reputation (provided the links are useful to me).
2. By linking out to other sites with other views on the topic (either competing views or shared views or both) it tells me that you're not afraid to let your argument stand out there to be tested. Again, to me, you're building not diminishing, your reputation.
3. By providing links (good, useful ones) you are providing a practical service to me. You are making it easy for me to follow up on issues that interest me. You could be generating other ideas for me to explore. You're expanding my horizons.
4. If you honestly think that forcing a link to open up a new browser window is good thing you are sorrily mistaken. You should give the readers of your blog a choice. If you don't, you become a pain in the ass and everyone knows a pain in the ass is something users will not (and should not) put up with.
5. Your readers aren't idiots. If they want to explore the links placed in a blog post they'll middle-click the link in Firefox or Opera so it opens up in a new tab. I'm sure IE7 will support similar functionality (I don't use IE6 so I don't know what those users would do). When I read a blog post (in an aggregator or on their site) I routinely middle-click the links that interest me and go read those posts while keeping your site open. This is what you're trying to accomplish Steve, but by not giving me the choice to do it your being a pain in the ass.
6. I could be wrong and maybe you're stating this whole thing just to be a pain in the ass and generate traffic for yourself. But of course the 'page view model is dead' - sharing a grave alongside Office no less... ;)
7. Steve, it actually doesn't really matter what you do on your blog. Your reputation is being carried and built by, and on the podcasting medium anyway.
8. Doc Searls provides a very valuable service to me by providing such good links. Providing good links is key of course. By the way, providing shitty links is probably a faster way of degrading your reputation than not linking at all.
9. On a slightly unrelated note, I'm begging for mercy here. Please someone stop it with the 'o-sphere' references. Blogosphere, podosphere and now linkosphere. Gimme a fucking break-osphere. After a while, the terminology becomes not only annoying but actually starts to diminish the significance of your discussions.
10. And finally, just to piss you off, I'll link to you directly: Steve Gillmor