Linking to Articles That Toot Your Own Horn

I’ve noticed something on the 20 odd blogs I read on a regular basis and it has to do with people enthusiastically linking to articles that toot the linker’s horn. In the entrepreneur blogs I read, people will routinely link to articles that will mention them in some way (I am guilty on one charge of this). In the VC blogs I read, they may cross-link to each other’s entries where they both say marvelous things about the other. And it culminated yesterday reading Jeff Jarvis’ blog in which he enthusiastically endorsed an article by Doc Searls. Having never seen Jeff so enthusiastic, I checked out the article. It was a great article, but it also calls Jeff Jarvis “perhaps the most important entertainment writer of our time.” Hmm. I’m not saying there’s something inherently wrong with this practice, I just want to point it out and put it on the radar screen…in the name of transparency.

2 Responses to Linking to Articles That Toot Your Own Horn

  1. Jeff Jarvis says:

    I planned to link to doc’s post before I came across that graph. Then I wondered what to do. I decided it was even more self promotional to call attention to it. You may be right that it lacked transparency not to. I was befuddled.

  2. Doc Searls says:

    Thanks to Technorati, PubSub and referer logs, a certain amount of b’logrolling is inevitable.

    For what it’s worth, I try to read and link to blogs that are outside the circle of usual suspects, and to point praise, when it’s deserved, in unexpected directions. But what should one do when wanting to point to a post that also toots a horn in your direction? In my case, I either ignore or acknowledge the praise, and post anyway.

    But your post has me thinking… Is there some kind of disclaimer protocol required? What’s not “transparent” in an environment where everybody’s alreay equipped to fact-check everybody else?

    The way I see it, blogging at its best involves building new understandings of vexing issues. People often team up around that kind of effort, something like farmers do when raising a barn. If one builder high-fives another builder when they frame a particularly well-crafted door or floor together, is that a bad thing?

    Perhaps it is, from the perspective of traditional journalism. There it is customary to write with with a tone of finality, from an objective distance, and to regard all forms of enthusiasm with a degree of suspicion. That’s one ideal, in any case. It’s also one that doesn’t work in the parts of the blogosphere where participants are trying to be constructive and not just objective, where they are busy making and changing minds, and not just digging up facts and issuing opinions.

    In that last link, I point to a post by Jay Rosen in which he took an idea I tossed out and built something interesting and substantial case around it — far better than I ever could have done on my own.

    My point, which just came to me…

    Much of what we’re doing here amounts to teamwork. It’s not formal, or even conscious in many cases, but it does involve lots of “yes, and…” posting. Sometimes praise is involved. More often it isn’t. What matters is that we’re not doing it alone. And that we’re only beginning to understand what that’s about.

    So thanks for making us think. Much appreciated.

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