Should you care (much) if you make our Friday linkfest?

Margaret Kosmala has a “secret” goal for her new ecology blog:

My secret goal is to get picked up by Dynamic Ecology’s Friday links at least once a month.

I’m sincerely flattered that Margaret would set this as a goal. And while I don’t know of anyone else who’s ever set “make the Dynamic Ecology linkfest on a regular basis” as a goal, I do occasionally see people tweeting how happy and even honored they are at making our linkfest. But besides feeling flattered, I have slightly mixed feelings. (attention conservation notice: brief navel-gazing post ahead)

I totally get why someone would be happy to get a link from us. I’m happy whenever we get a link from someone else! It’s always nice to be noticed in a positive way. It’s especially nice when it comes from someone you respect.

But I hope it’s not more than that for anyone. I hope no one sees making our linkfest as an achievement, in a similar way to how it’s an achievement to have a paper highlighted by Faculty of 1000, or to get a paper accepted by a selective journal. Because while I can’t speak for Meg, I discover stuff to read, and decide whether to link to it, in a pretty casual, haphazard way. I’m not systematically searching for the “best” stuff by any criterion, not even “my own personal preferences”. There’s no formal mechanism for anyone to bring candidate links to my attention. And honestly I don’t even know how I decide if something is “link worthy”. So, yes, I do like the stuff that I link to. But I only link to a fraction of the stuff I like, and to a vastly smaller fraction of all the stuff that I would like if I knew about it. I’d hate to think that there might be somebody out there who’s bummed, or worried that they’re doing something wrong, because we haven’t linked to them lately.

So don’t take my choice of links too seriously. Because I don’t.


4 thoughts on “Should you care (much) if you make our Friday linkfest?

  1. Oh huh. My goal was entirely practical: a brand new blog has no readers, and getting picked up by DE means some publicity. So my goal was really to write good enough blog posts that I’d get picked up by DE (arguably the most widely-read ecology blog) from time to time, so that people would know the blog exists. (In just the first month, I’ve been amazed by my new blog’s readership, thanks to you guys and other ecology bloggers linking to my posts, as well as being tweeted. This is a wonderful community to be writing in.)

    • Cheers for this Margaret. That seems totally reasonable to me. Though in practice most of our linkfest links only get clicked a few dozen times at most. So my guess would be that links from us might accelerate your traffic growth a bit early on, but will just be a drop in the traffic bucket in a few months. If they aren’t already a drop in the bucket. I think that was more or less the experience of Scientist Sees Squirrel and Tenure, She Wrote when we linked to them back when they started out. But I don’t know for sure, perhaps Stephen Heard will comment. As you say, it’s not really any one source of traffic that makes a big difference. You build an audience through the aggregate effects of a bunch of direct and indirect sources.

      “DE (arguably the most widely-read ecology blog) ”

      There’s an argument about that?! 😉

      • Wonder if there’s any research in ‘blog networking’. If somebody’s post is linked on a blog, what factors lead to the linked blog’s viewership increase? Is there a ‘threshold’ of viewership, below which a link does very little? How common are ‘secondary links’ in affecting viewership: where a small blog with few readers is seen by a blogger with a much larger number of readers?

        Neat stuff to think about.

      • Sorry, a bit late seeing this! Yes, I think you are right, Jeremy, about traffic. Early on, making Friday Links could double traffic to one of my posts (and in fact, about 10% of all hits to Scientist Sees Squirrel for its first year were referrals from Dynamic Ecology!). But now it’s a nice little boost (and I still feel really good about seeing one of my posts mentioned) but it’s smaller in comparison to regular traffic. Margaret, if you keep blogging the excellent stuff you’re blogging, your traffic will doubtless build up. Friday Links will definitely help, but so will a hundred other things, like frequent tweeters etc.

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