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Don’t blame the link blog

Marcelo Somers, The Linkblog Cancer:

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.

Kyle Baxter responds:

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.

We do have a surplus of bad copies of Daring Fireball, but the link-blog format isn’t the reason. I think the real reasons are environmental:

Blaming the format itself for link-blog overload is like blaming Canon for the deluge of mediocre SLR photography over the last decade. The tools are now available to everyone, which is great. Most people won’t become world-class users of these tools, but the surplus of mediocre output doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for more people who can be truly great at it — it just means that most people’s link blogs aren’t worth following.

We don’t need more Daring Fireballs. We have Daring Fireball already. People who read it have little reason to read anyone else’s minimally differentiated clone.

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.

I’ve taken the link-blog format Gruber popularized and found my own way with it, and hopefully, that provides value and differentiation for readers.

And I highly suggest to other writers that they find their own way.

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