Linking Etiquette

A lot of people write to me and ask something like:

Love your work. Do you mind if I share your article with my readers? I’d give you credit.

Please do not ask that way. It’s awkwardly amateurish and ambiguous. You might mean two very different things:

  1. You want to mention my writing to your readers and send them to my website with a link. Great! Thank you! (And why would I mind…?)
  2. You want to copy and re-publish my writing. No! Bzzz! It's not even cool to ask that!

Links good

Reputation and links are the hard currencies of internet publishing and blogging. It is nothing but good to mention and link to another writer — so there’s no need to ask permission to do it. You’re doing me a favour. If that’s all you want, you should just tell me, like this:

LINKER: I love your article. I’ve published a link to it.

LINKEE: Hey, thanks!

This is usually all that beginners mean or want to do, but they fear that a link is somehow a copyright violation, and so they err on the side of excessive courtesy and ask permission. But it’s like asking permission to do me a favour, which is confusing.

Copying bad

If you ask for permission to “share” my content, I wonder why you think you need permission.

Permission is only needed if your plans might constitute a copyright violation — for instance, copying and pasting anything more than a quote or modest excerpt of someone else’s writing. And you probably shouldn’t ever do that. In most blogging scenarios, you should just link to the content you like and give credit for it.

Hint: that’s what you want other bloggers to do for your blog! Golden rule. Do unto other bloggers …

What about guest posts?

Well, that’s different. If you want some of my writing as a featured guest post on your blog, sure, great, we can talk. But if you want a guest post, say that.