We're all guilty sometimes of over linking to our own material, in the belief that this may affect our search engine rankings. The practice is really bad on some ad-farms and joke news sites, where some sort of automatic software creates a scattergun of links, often double underlined, 1 that are generally useless. And, fortunately, easy enough to learn to ignore.

Lately, though, I've become increasingly aware of some crazy link policy in an organ I have some respect for, and it is driving me nuts. I'm bringing it here, rather than the other place, because it is a meta-complaint; about the sources of information, rather than about the information itself. Scidev.net - "News, views and information about science, technology and the developing world" - will have a paragraph like this:

The institute, based in Lubumbashi, DRC, was established in 1979. But in recent years, countries have not been honouring their funding pledges, citing economic difficulties, according to the DRC's agriculture minister, Norbert Basengezi Katintima.

Call me naive, but I expect that link for "funding" to take me to more detail of some aspect of funding, possibly even a story about how - gasp - countries have not been honouring their funding pledges. Likewise, I expect a hyperlink on research, in the paragraph below, to take me to more details of research, perhaps even on the specific problems mentioned.

Now, ministers have agreed to recommence funding to enable the institute to carry out research into crop and animal diseases affecting the region, such as cassava mosaic disease, banana bacterial wilt disease and Newcastle disease — a viral disease that affects poultry.

But no. 2 Instead, each link takes me to a page of motley similarly-tagged snippets. This is plain dumb. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it actually decreased search engine rankings, quite apart from annoying at least one regular reader. 3 I'd love to see the analytics for referrers to those bucket pages, and even more, a response from SciDev.net as to why they don't actually add some value to their stories by offering external links.

  1. Which is surprisingly hard to do.  

  2. Obviously, or I wouldn't be ranting. 

  3. Who is, nevertheless, happy to link to those pages from here.  

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