Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Linkaholics Anonymous

My name is Ellen, and I'm a Linkaholic.

If there was a 12 step program for people like me I'd be the captain of the team, lol. I love to provide links to everything I read.  I can be obnoxious with them.  I was once nearly kicked out of a community because I provided them with every post.  I have since learned to tone them down a bit, but occasionally I fall off the wagon :)

The question is... would you rather have your communities provide links or not?  Do you like the little colored text that tells you "All you have to do is click me and I'll tell you everything you want to know about this subject"?  ...or do they annoy you?

The fact is, most links are never clicked.  I monitor my links because I'm trying to be the best Health Activist I can be.  This means I want to know what people like to read and learn about.  I average about 20 hits for every link inside my text that is actually clicked - guestimating.

Why?  Some of the people who follow me regularly and read nearly everything I write have told me they don't click the links BECAUSE they are there.  They assume if I backed myself up with them there for anyone to read, then I obviously am giving them good information.  This leads me to wonder what would happen if I backed those links with spammy garbage

I have also been told that I am a very thorough writer, so there's no need for them to research further.  I do really try to work at this, but the truth is, unless one writes a book it's practically impossible to be thorough enough on any subject.  I put those links there so readers can continue to research beyond what I've told them, and I really do hope that they are interested enough to click one or two.

I have recently joined another new group that chooses not to put any links on blog posts etc.  Instead there is a notation at the bottom telling the reader that sources are available upon request.  I have my own opinions about this, but I'm wondering what other Health Activists have to say on the subject.

What do you think about links within text?  Do you use them, or do you have another method of sourcing information and encouraging readers to dig deeper?
Comment by Janeen on January 12, 2011 at 1:48pm
Oh good point Ellen!!  I'm a Linkaholic too.  I feel like I'm the queen of links.  If you look at most of my blog posts you will no less that 3 links per post.  I do really only put them there if I feel it's important for more information.  I also put them there so someone can read the original article or post without me having to paraphrase the whole thing.
The fact that most links aren't clicked is eye opening though.  I will make sure that the link I use is something I really feel is important in the future.  I don't want to "over link" a post.  I'm sure it does make something cumbersome to read.
Comment by Ellen S on January 12, 2011 at 4:46pm

I used to put most of my links as sources at the bottom so the text doesn't appear cumbersome.  I was then told most people like them embedded in text so I started doing that.  Then I was told by someone I was linking to that wasn't appropriate.  One site I frequent restricts links to a single one per page.  Apparently search engines like links, but not too many.  Still, if I got my information from someone or something else, I feel the need to include that.  All you have to do is forget one time and you'll never do it again :)

The group that made me stop linking did so because they thought I was pushing the links onto patients and because they were research links and written in medical jargon and they made patients feel inferior.  Each group is different, and I tend to lean toward those that embrace links, research and sourcing.  Those have the information you can bank on with your doctor...

Lately I've gotten off easy because I'm writing about things I already know or from personal experience.  However that said, if patients are going to take this to their doctors, their doctors want the cold hard research and a way to look it up themselves.
Comment by Eve on January 14, 2011 at 10:01am
I provide a lot of links on my site (www.preventcanswers.org) because that is the main purpose of it, to help people find information. But I set it up so that all the links are in one section, and the discussion is in another. However, I find that most people do not want to do their own homework or read the links. It is frustrating because it seems they will ask the same question over and over, rather than click on the link that will answer it.
I do not think it is fair for us to have to explain things to people when there is already proof from reliable sources but people are just too lazy. Too many people want free advice and have the attention span of a gnat. They only read the sensational headlines in a health report and never get to the truth, that is usually in the last sentence. For instance, there was all this hoopla about the fact that mammos were going to be recommended less often. People were furious. But the truth is, this new policy is actually better for women. If they had read the whole article, they would see that it has been proven that yearly mammos do not change the statistics of "saving lives" and that they are actually dangerous.
Some sites may not like you linking because it sends people to other sites. When I get chastised for linking, I just leave that forum. Those selfish sites are not about helping people  IMO.
But hey, I live in the Land of Linkin, so maybe that explains why I love links!
Comment by Ellen S on January 14, 2011 at 10:48pm
LOL Eve!  You're too funny :)
Comment by Amy K on January 15, 2011 at 5:01pm
Great topic, I had never really thought about my linking on this level. I feel it is always necessary to back up any kind of health information I am giving with links/sources, unless it is something obviously of my opinion or from learned experience. I am very interested in paying closer attention to my links now.

I want others to cite their sources, too, personally. Most of the time, I want to know what kind of evidence there truly is for the advice or information they are giving.

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