Attribution In The Echo Chamber

November 09, 2011 by Gabe | [mmd] |

I often make snide off-handed comments about the "Golden Echo Chamber", as I refer to it. The web is full of sites that do nothing but link to stories from other sites to drive up their own page views. Some of them do a good job referencing the original sources but MANY attempt to hide the source. This seems to be an attempt to both obscure the source of the information (to boost their own standing) and to keep visitors on their own pages as long as possible. Gawker Media is particularly notorious in this respect (link omitted on purpose) and I avoid their sites for that reason.

The Verge (link included on purpose) is trying an interesting method of linking which seems honest enough but still doesn't feel right. They include the links at the end of the article as a "references." Unfortunately I've noticed many articles that have no links in the text body. I like the reference section idea but I also want links in the text body so it is more obvious what the source of the information is.

My personal approach to attribution is to provide a link to the original source whenever possible. I often will also include a "By way of" link at the end of an article. I use that to indicate where I first heard about the original source. That can be a difficult problem when 15 different RSS feeds will "break" the same exact news within a few minutes of each other. In those cases I may not include a "By way of" reference at all.