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This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Linking With Confidence

There are surprisingly few sites that everyone’s happy to link to for authoritative information. If you mention a movie you point at IMDb, and for general information it’s now usually Wikipedia, but beyond that I’m struggling for clear examples. Maybe Wiktionary or Dictionary.com for words, and Snopes for hoaxes/urban legends?

It seems that such link-worthy sites need to…

  • …be focussed on the information rather than just commercial aspects.
  • …use URLs that never change.
  • …offer sufficient breadth of coverage.
  • …have sufficient detail.
  • …be kept up-to-date.
  • …seem trustworthy.

Although it can be tricky to balance commercialism against the needs of the ‘community’, it’s puzzling that relatively few companies try to address those issues and reap the benefits. For example, by fully embracing the web the iTunes Music Store (which currently only offers minimal information and a way to direct the iTunes application to a part of the store) could possibly create an authoritative source of music information, which could gradually raise its profile even further and surely increase sales (particularly via the affiliate programme).

Feeds and web service APIs rightfully get a lot of coverage on tech blogs as a way for sites to make themselves indispensable, but becoming an integral part of the web by encouraging simple linking can be an accessible, powerful approach.


Comments

I agree that the iTMS could become an authoritative site online because of how well it's known, but I would argue that AllMusicGuide (http://www.allmusic.com), from whom I believe Apple gets a lot of their bio information anyway, is really the de facto source for band information. If I'm writing about the band Ozma and am worried my readers won't know who I'm talking about, I would just link to http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll… It's not a pretty URL but it's permanent and informative - background info, discography, music samples, et cetera.

In general though, I agree, there are areas that don't have sites like AMG to cover them and would be profitable resources.

Matt, 11th Apr, 3:03pm

(amended the URL to remove your session ID)

You're right, I should've mentioned AllMusicGuide, although I only really became aware of it when they screwed up the redesign so badly people started writing Firefox extensions to fix it. Months later it's still awful - for example, try searching for a specific band (e.g. Ozma) and you get the information, but with a URL in the address bar which just produces "Error 5 No Program Name Found" if you link to it. Ugh.

Matt Round, 11th Apr, 9:15pm

How about Ebay for market value of a given product?

Tony, 12th Apr, 8:58am

I agree, the redesign of AMG is atrocious. There's a Firefox plugin ( http://holovaty.com/blog/archive/… ) that makes it a lot more useful, but only so much can be done to "rout[e] around the damage," as the extension-writer puts it.

Matt, 12th Apr, 11:03pm

For general purpose this one is my favorite, all handpicked and pretty well chosen.
http://www.cbel.com/

Klaas, 13th Apr, 4:53pm


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