Linking Coyness in the Age of Google

One trend that I find alternately amusing and annoying is the practice of extensively discussing a blog post or other Internet piece while making a big show of not linking to the piece in question.

Two recent cases in point:

Thursday, Josh Legum excoriated Glenn Reynolds, Roger Simon, and Pajamas Media for linking to a post which revealed the identity of one of Mark Foley’s alleged victims. (See this post for a thorough discussion of the merits.) Despite referring to the original source as “Wild Bill” eight times in a relatively short post and discussing exactly what Reynolds, Simon, and PJM said about Wild Bill’s posts, Legum closed with a haughty “We won’t be providing links to any of these posts.”

James Fallows, in an otherwise good post pointing out that a Harvard adjunct professor didn’t bother to read an article he had written for the Atlantic before engaging in a snide criticism of it, dances all around the name of the prof-blogger in question for several paragraphs. Finally, he observes, “There is no benefit in naming this blogger, who in trying to make a ‘gotcha!’ point instead illustrated a failure to read any farther into an article than the first half of its sub-head.” Yet, the article contains an extensive excerpt of the post in question and observes, “The blogger is a professor. Of political science. At an Ivy League university.”

Given that any reader with access to Google can quickly locate the posts in question, it’s simply silly to play this “I’m above naming the person I’m critizing” game.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jonathan Gibson says:

    People don’t want to share the google love with posts they don’t like even though they feel the need to expose ’em.

  2. John Burgess says:

    James: I don’t think it’s silly at all.

    Why make it easy for the cited site to rack up page-views? In the absence of a link, many (if not most) aren’t going to bother looking for the original. Opening Google, typing the name, waiting a few seconds, looking down the list of links to find the right one… these all take time. If the person who’s writing the article was helpful enough to include sufficient text to get an idea of why he’s arguing about it, most will simply say, “Okay,” and move right along.

    Maybe it’s because I’m becomng picky or something, but if a blogger doesn’t include a link to someone he thinks an idiot, AND I have a modicum of respect for the blogger in the first place, then I don’t need to link.

    I certainly don’t want to be pushing up the Google-sense numbers for an idiot, but equally, I don’t even want to waste my time following the link.

  3. Boyd says:

    Hell, the majority of the time I don’t bother to click the links in a blog post. The blogger I’m reading at the time, by definition, is who’s interesting to me. If the other person were interesting, I’d already be reading them in most cases.

    Which is not to say I never follow links, but more often than not, I don’t. Even OTB links. Even when I’m instructed to read the whole thing. Bad me.