July 10, 2018

Rediscovering the Link-Based Blog Post

Chain Rusty Round Link Chain Chain Link Stainless
Photo via Max Pixel
When I started writing Atheist Revolution back in 2005, I wrote a bunch of very short posts that were centered around a single link. Here's an example of what I mean. These posts had a few things in common:
  • They usually started with an external link.
  • The title of the post was often the same as the title of the story to which the external link directed readers.
  • This was followed by somewhere between a sentence or two to a paragraph or two in which I shared my thoughts on the story to which I had linked above.
  • I rarely bothered to include images in any of these posts.
I started to move away from this type of post sometime in 2006, writing fewer and fewer before abandoning them almost entirely. I was embarrassed of them. I thought I had grown as a blogger and that this type of post was somehow beneath me. In retrospect, that seems rather stupid.

I've had a few recent experiences lately that have led me to suspect that I've been wrong about this for some time. Just because many of the early posts I wrote using this approach weren't worth much doesn't mean that the approach itself cannot be valuable. You see, I have found some real gems in posts like this that other bloggers have written.

I suspect that one of the reasons you may see more posts like what I have described here from those of us who are using Blogger as a blogging platform is that Blogger makes them very easy to do. But it isn't just a Blogger thing. The software I use to write almost all of my blog posts (MarsEdit) comes with a browser plug-in that lets me start a post like this from any webpage with one click. It couldn't be much easier.

Most of the posts you'll find at Understand Reality Through Science take this form, although Tom Rafferty usually adds images to his posts (which is really smart). Many times, his posts contain little more than an external link, a sentence or two (or a quote from the source), and an image. It is easy to dismiss the value of this, but many of Tom's posts link to really cool material that I'd probably never have found without him. And that is why I think I was wrong to abandon this approach. It is an effective and efficient way to help readers discover cool stuff they'd likely miss.

I'm not planning to replace what I'm currently doing with this approach, but I think I might play with rediscovering it. There are plenty of times when I find a link I think my readers would enjoy but do not have time to write a 300+ word post about it. Instead of shelving it for the time being and never remembering to get back to it (a recurrent problem of mine), I might try more of these brief link-based posts.