May 22, 2020

The True Value of Link Posts

Illustration adapted from ouch.picsIllustration adapted from ouch.pics

At their best, link posts are a way for independent bloggers to engage with and continue a conversation started by one of their fellows.

We use them to boost each other up, offer constructive criticism, point out other views, or amplify a message we believe in.

I like them.

But I find that, in the tech space especially, they sometimes feel inane and circular. Occasionally, link posts will turn up in my RSS feed pointing to something that many others have also linked to, but without providing me with any additional context or insight.

Why are you showing this to me? Why are you interested in it?

It doesn’t have to be an essay, but I appreciate that little bit of commentary because it exemplifies an often-neglected value that link posts bring to the web.

Link posts are the embedded curation layer for RSS. They broaden our horizons within the confines of what is typically a closed, non-algorithmic feed.

Link posts turn each of your RSS feed sources into their own editorial curation board, offering you glimpses into corners of the internet you may not be exposed to otherwise.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this, and I’m not suggesting that people who share links without commentary are committing some sort of crime against the indie web. However, if you’re going to share new ideas and experiences with someone, it seems courteous to do so with the same care and attention you’d grant them if you were making the recommendation in person.

My goal with link posts is to share things that fall outside the regularly scheduled programming of the tech news cycle. Not because those things don’t interest me or because I don’t think they should interest others, but because I know that other blogs will be linking to them. If you’re reading this, chances are good you’ll have seen those headlines already.

I prefer to embrace my role as a curator and share peeks into other interests of mine, links to off-topic pieces that made me think, or unusual stuff that fascinates and delights me.

All this to say that the next time you’re crafting your link post, remember: you’re a curator, and I can’t wait to discover something new from your recommendation.


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