The tech blogger Phil Ringnalda is taking heat over criticizing O'Reilly about some questionable link ads on the company's web sites. Tim O'Reilly posted a thoughtful response that shows he's not entirely comfortable with selling ads that trade on a site's Google pagerank, rather than visitor eyeballs.

This is a good discussion for web publishers to be having, because the practice of pimping pagerank is becoming more pervasive. I've received numerous offers to put such links on SportsFilter, a booming sports weblog that recently received a pagerank of 7, but I've ignored them. Most seek to promote junk sites for mortgage refinancing, phentermine, and the like -- the same kind of shady marketers who are hammering my servers with comment spam -- and I don't want to damage the site's well-earned good reputation.

There's also the risk of linking to a site that Google demotes to pagerank 0, which some pagerank kremlinologists believe will adversely affect your own pagerank.

In response to Ringnalda, Andy Baio asks whether he should have discussed his concerns privately:

Did you try to contact anyone at O'Reilly before posting this? It would've taken very little effort to get a response from them before you released the rest of the world on them. Like Anil said, "the blog world likes nothing more than a good old-fashioned pile-on."

I received a similar challenge to my post on Bram Cohen, coincidentally from Anil Dash.

I think Baio and Dash are being excessively reasonable. A personal weblog's a place to think out loud. You can't let fear of being wrong or fear of how others might respond stop you from voicing an honest criticism. If I was afraid of looking stupid, I'd never leave the house.

Nobody likes being called out in public -- just look at how fast O'Reilly responded to Ringnalda. But this is a strength of blogging, not a weakness.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

Comments

There is too much thinking out loud. Some thinking should not leave the brain.
My mother always told me to think before my mouth starts moving, not the other way around. It was good advice then and is good advice now.


 

"If I was afraid of looking stupid, I'd never leave the house."

Or, um, post a weblog entry from the comfort of you own house.


 

Okay, people who think Ringnalda should not have publicly questioned O'Reilly on this are just beyond absurd.

The title to your post about Brahm Cohen was deceptive because Cohen's dorky manifesto didn't say anywhere that he built BitTorrent to infringe on copyright. Moreover, BitTorrent has certain features that make it rather easy to catch people who are downloading infringing files.

But it was no more deceptive than many headlines I see at "professional" news organizations. It just came across as the sort of thing I'd see from Drudge.


 

There is too much thinking out loud. Some thinking should not leave the brain.

Then how will you find out when you're wrong about something? I was mispronouncing "cache" for years until I finally used the word in front of someone who was driven mad by the way I said it.
Back in the '80s, the other BBS geeks laughed at me when I told them I was a bulletin board SIGH-SOP.


 

I guess I'm not intending to suggest that people not think out loud, but rather that something that's unknown be presented as a question rather than a statement of fact. And not merely a "when did you stop beating your wife?" question, but as a legitmate query. It's a much better way to get to the truth of the matter, though that's predicated on the assumption that people are more interested in truth than in advancing their point.

Which is not always the case.

There's also deliberately inflammatory vague statements, which are a favorite of many bloggers. That gives you all the benefits of plausible deniability while still getting the horrible flaming of a blogger pile-on. "Competitor X's technology is wonky!" "That's not true" "Well, I didn't say that it actually kills puppies, did I? I just said it was wonky." etc.


 

Good design!
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Everyone does that, less or more.....but when thing like Wiki and Technorati is exploited by their own moderators....then what next???


 

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