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The whole attribution affiliation debate that happened last week and the subsequent reactions by Kottke and Merlin Mann got me thinking a lot about the whole idea of link curation. First, I find the criticism kind of hypocritical. Sites like Boing Boing, and Kottke.org are known more for what they link to than for original content. You can get specific about the do’s and dont’s, the length of excerpts, and the ethical ways of linking, but “link curation” is still borrowing content to present yourself or your site.

It’s not that I don’t think that there shouldn’t be a best practices for linking, nor that borrowing content is wrong. The All Things Digital thing surely crosses the line. But if you’re also a link curator, I don’t think you’re the best person to be criticizing how others present other people’s content.

With that said, I think there are best practices we can all agree on. Here’s a little list that I think can be helpful:

  1. Give credit were credit is due. This is obvious. Copy and pasting something without pointing to the source is stealing. End of story.
  2. Tell me why. If you’re not enthused and don’t give me a reason to click the link you might as well create a Twitter account. I just think that having a blog to just put links without any context is a terrible waste of HTML.
  3. Give me an example. This is where the disagreements start to happen, but a good quote shows that you read the thing or at least that you tried to read it.

That’s it. It’s really simple, but simple things are easily forgotten. Or we can all just take Warren Ellis’ advice and declare that we are in the post curation years and start doing original shit.

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