Stephen Hackett’s been thinking about Linked Lists, which he doesn’t happen to use at 512 Pixels. He even did a survey of his readers, and it turns out most of them like Linked Lists. It also turns out Stephen isn’t bowing to the majority:
At this point, I am not changing the way the site works.
Now I am using Linked List style posts here, but I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about them. As a reader, I like them. It’s a clear differentiation between two different styles of post. As a writer though, I find them frustrating at times. The thing is, it’s not always easy to know when your post is a post and when your post is a link. Sure there are the extremes – one word comment linked list posts and lengthy essays that spring to your mind out of thin air – but there’s a whole lot of writing that falls somewhere in between.
Take this post for example. Is this a link because it was inspired by Stephen Hackett’s post? Or is it my own post because I’ve crossed some arbitrary threshold of word count or personal contribution.
And even worse, what if I’m writing what is essentially a short commentary, but about posts at two different sites? The Linked List format only accepts a single primary link. Sure, you can link to others in the body of the post, but that implies some kind of ranking that may not be desirable.
As a writer I despise using subject categories for blog posts because I spend so much time trying to figure out what the correct subject (or subjects) for a post may me. It’s liberating to simply write a post without worrying about the category, and I think it would be similarly liberating to be able to ignore the Link/Post distinction, which is really just another kind of category.
Update: Ben Brooks shares some of my frustration with trying to decide if something is a link or a post:
The problem I face is when I write a post like this that is somewhere between a linked list post and an article post.
He’s not concerned about categorization, but rather about how to give proper attribution when using the different formats. Still, it’s another example of how forcing something into arbitrary categories has its limitations.
Yep, this is a Linked List style post. I have no idea if that was the right decision or not.