Image via CrunchBase
“You know kinda bothers me? When someone tweets a link to a story that
really isn’t the story but another site that then links to the story.” – via @Shadowhelm
Please excuse the missing word. I often flub my Tweets. Also even though @LindaAla13 responded to my Tweet I wasn’t referring to any of her messages but to another Twitter user.
The point of the Tweet was that I really get frustrated when someone tweets an interesting lead-in to a story or some other internet site but instead of linking to the source, they link to some other page that then links to the source. Doing this means that the person clicking through the Tweet must actually click twice to get to the real story. In the grand scheme of things I suppose this isn’t a big deal but the practice is misleading at best and is often dishonest if not malicious. The practice appears to be a way to drive traffic to a site without actually having any content on the site itself. The applications of such a technique are numerous but ultimately I think the practice reduces the value of the linking site and, by related consequence, the long term value of the person sending the original Tweet. Linking in such a way on a consistent basis would certainly make me less likely to click on a link by that same user in the future because there is no telling if I will get to the actually story or not.
This specific situation has also made me think about the bigger topic of linking to websites through Twitter. Is there some kind of link etiquette for social networking sites, especially Twitter. Through necessity most links posted through Twitter must use a link shortening service. The by-product of such services is that the actually link is disguised so the user really doesn’t know where the link will take them. So we have a system that almost encourages dishonesty when posting links. Nefarious users can then use this system to drive traffic which determines advertising dollars without actually having to generate something of value for the potential reader. Just post a link to the real story somewhere, throw some ads on the page, and then Tweet a link to the page. Instant revenue. Even if it isn’t about money though the practice can be used for any reason that requires users to end up at some particular site. Given the possible uses of shortened links, should there be some generally accepted rules within the Twitter/social networking community?
There are a few other concerns in this space as well. How many links per hour/day are acceptable? I am sure we all follow certain media outlets that Tweet several links per day. Some even do three or more at a time. When does this kind of tweeting lose its value and just become noise? The same thing goes with individuals. Do you start filtering out individual Tweeters that do nothing but tweet links all day? Is there any value in such a practice?
I would like opinions on this subject if you have them. Am I just being curmudgeonly or do I have a point? Personally I get so much information thrust at me every day I find that most of it just becomes background noise. I am just one guy though so I could be wrong.