Read & Respond week 4: Links and Crowds

This week, we’ll be talking about connections, both the in-person links that create crowds and the digital ones that create, well, the Internet.

Readings

The term “the wisdom of crowds” was popularized by James Surowiecki, but it’s been around for a while. Some take issue with the idea that crowds actually have any particular wisdom; a crowd, after all is just a thrown rock away from a mob. Here’s a little tune on the subject from Nova:

Moving on to links and linking, consider some ideas from these posts:

  • Start with the mechanics of links. Where do they come from? Why are they blue and underlined?
  • Bill Thompson talks about links as the key component of “the semantic Web.” This one’s a little wonky, but at its heart is the idea that the meaning of a link comes from how it’s used rather than just where it goes.
  • Did you know that the way you use links affects how your posts show up in Google search? It’s true! You probably realize that using bland link text like “click here” is an amateur move, but the quantity AND quality of your links affects your PageRank, which determines where you show up in search.

So how do you write good link text? Start with this rule of thumb: “link text should always describe what the user will see when they click on it.” Avoid “click here“or actually posting the full URL. Try some of these strategies for writing quality links (from Harvard – fancy!) and drawing search engine hits (scroll down – the first part is more about not using “click here,” and I think you know that by this point).

You will need to post your response as a comment to this post no later than 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8. Keep it concise and relevant, and provide some useful examples!


Personal Post

Write a blog post synthesizing (and linking) ideas from several members of your blogroll. As always, it must be relevant to your personal blog concept and must include:

  • At least three links (more is better) to meaningful content. This means news stories, relevant posts, and substantive material, NOT to homepages (e.g., wvu.com) or general sites (e.g., facebook.com)
  • At least three content links: Images, video, social media posts, etc.

You will post it on Thursday some time between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

20 Responses to Read & Respond week 4: Links and Crowds

  1. When watching the video, it gave me a much better understanding of the word crowd sourcing and what it really entails. What I took away from it was, with mass amounts of various people, opinions, and ideas on the internet- we can learn so much more and possibly even learn more accurately with the more people or sites we come in contact with. For example, if when researching my topic of body dysmorphia in social media, I myself only know so much about this topic and can only be accurate on a few matters of the subject. However, the more links I click on and search, the more information and brain power I am giving myself access to thus the more accurate I can be in a wider span of information on the subject matter.

    The links being blue and underlined throughout an article make them alluring and inviting- almost like tempting you to click on them for it seems like necessary information. Writing a good link is all about putting accurate, relevant information sprinkled in throughout your text to add more information to your subject matter. It shows that you have done your research and that the subject you are talking about is relevant because of the “look, other people are talking about this too!” factor. Also, as you said, placing the link in a spot where it gravitates the reader to click on it rather than just a “the” but an enticing line of your writing that could almost serve as a google search for said link that you connect to it. By doing this not only will it optimize searches and hits on your article, but optimize your writing as a whole as well.

  2. “The wisdom of crowds” is a really interesting concept. I think that it says a lot about the importance of an epistemic perspective. When the few make decisions in the “interests” of the many, it’s almost certain that the few’s independent biases will be showcased more than their understanding of what’s going on on the ground for most people. Bottom line, open dialogue between everyone and maintaining that everyone’s voices matter is the only way anything good will happen, in my opinion.

    As far as writing good link text goes, I think it’s a matter of quality over quantity. This isn’t to say that an article that provides lots of links is a bad thing, but rather that placing links aimlessly throughout an article can come across as distracting and overwhelming aesthetically. Obviously, resorting to a “click here” or an ugly URL is 100% not the way to go, but it’s not enough to hyperlink just any text that relates to the subject of the source either. The link should grab the reader, not annoy them. As well, I think that it shouldn’t tell the whole story. For example, in my post recent blog post and mental health and mass shootings, I linked the words “a penchant for gun violence against animals” when discussing some information about the Odessa gunman. While it’s explanatory, I thought it was a link that would draw some interest for further investigation out of the reader. Also in the same article, when addressing the Dayton shooter, I chose to hyperlink “supporter” rather than “supporter of Antifa and, contradictorily, gun control” because it’s much clunkier looking. The article provides both points included in the latter example, so it made sense to strip back the link for aesthetic value. Lastly, good link text takes a reader to good links. With good taste, it should be easy to choose the standout words in a sentence that deserve a hyperlink because they should provide interesting information.

  3. adisonammons says:

    The average of the audience is keen. being able to have a group of people and gathering all of the information gives you a lot more accurate description than just giving a random sample. The audience is right 90% of the time. What I found most interesting in the video was that masses of people leave their opinion on the internet but these opinions are what makes it interesting. WIthout the facts and opinions of people on the internet it would have never evolved in the way that it did. “The wisdom of crowds” really brings meaning to power in numbers. Taking the time to read and observe on the internet actually teaches us much more than we realize. Some things yes are “useless” pieces of information but there is something to be said about the spread of things on the internet and the internet being a resourceful source.

    I enjoyed reading about how it should never be “click here” or “here” or the URL itself. Go further than just to apply those easy steps and talk about what your topic is. The way to do that is to apply something related to the article and then link a few words to this text to keep the reader engaged. I also found it interesting and relatable that people scan rather than read, the fewer words the most people you’re going to pull in. I think saying less is more is what I have gotten from the proper way to link and to make your readers keep coming back. I think in my blog about prisons now I need to pay attention and link a few words rather than a sentence. For example when talking about incarceration rates instead of linking the whole sentence I can just link “incarceration” and have a direct like to an article. I also think the look of the link really plays a part in it, if its placed correctly and done with proper “taste” it really does make the blog post stand out amongst other text.

  4. The wisdom of the crowd theory baffles me because it just seems really unlikely that the median of a crowd of guesses could be correct. One of the reasons I thought this wasn’t possible is further validated by Carnegie Mellon University professor, Vassilis Kostakos when he found that a small group of people were responsible for a large amount of the ratings. Another thing that might affect results is people’s willingness and honesty in participating which goes along with the idea that there are always going to be active participants and passive passerbys.

    Hyperlinks come from UI designers and were on the Berner’s Lee original WWW Browser Prototype. These hyperlinks are blue to signify that these blue words are a hyperlink and to help viewers understand that these blue words are clickable and will take you to another website. One thing that affects how your page shows up in a search is how many people are using your page in links and the quality of the pages using your page as links called PageRank. The bad pages, link farms, are often filtered out by Google so they can’t affect your ranking. It’s interesting that other people linking to your page affects your page rank so it is important to gain and increase your following. If you’re using good hyperlinks, these will tell readers what kind of website they are going to be taken to (or if the hyperlink leads to a PDF) and their purpose without being too vague.

  5. I watched the video before I read the one article about the dirty little secret that there isn’t even a crowd. I thought the theory in the video was unlikely and I agreed much more with the Carnegie Mellon research. I knew about there being only a small amount of people contributing to the information on Wikipedia, but I did not know about the other sites like Amazon. In my opinion, most people choose to leave ratings, reviews, or comments when they have a strong biased opinion because they are more passionate to put out what they feel.

    In my own writing for this class, I have been trying to do create things when putting in my hyperlinks. I will often study the whole paragraph to try to perfectly place my link to the right word. When I read news articles or other blogs I like clicking on the hyperlinks they provide because they are useful to fully understanding the text. I knew that you should never put “click here” in a text, but I did not know that you should not put “go to the Alayna website to donate here” for example. I think it will be helpful for me to keep the Harvard website bookmarked for future help with links because they provided a lot of good examples.

  6. The concept about the “wisdom of the crowds” seems highly irrational to me. Even if the median inputs of everyone in the crowd lead to the correct answer, this is unusable in most cases if everyone still holds true to their personal input as nobody agrees, the median does not really matter. It does seem relevant in the example given in the video about guessing the ox’s weight, but that is not identical to the modern day examples that the concept is actually applied to now. Also, Sarah Perez points out in her article about the dirty secret of the crowds being that there is no crowd, that in every real world situation there will be active participants and passive passerbys. This means that user-generated content is never produced by the masses; therefore, the idea of the large crowd coming to a correct median is improbable since the crowd is not a crowd after all.

    Hyperlinks are blue and underlined to keep the consistency of how they were in the past when design was limited and blue was the darkest color next to black, and the underline was added to allow recognition on some monitors that only supported black/white display. Consistency in the presentation of links as well as carefully selecting and including a keyword, and using enough information out of context are key components of good link usage to allow increased usability, accessibility, and search engine performance. Rather than using a cliche term with a verb, Mike Caron shared the importance of the choice of words used to link a text. In my blog, I try to write my blog post and then go back and use words I have already written to add links to. I feel that this is a strong way to provide an outside source on the information in which I am talking about while having key words to choose from when adding the link.

  7. Jared Jorden says:

    I believe the idea of crowd sourcing is accurate and exciting. It’s something I agree with that multiple brainpower is better than just yourself. The idea suggests that the ability to look up numerous perspectives on the internet gives us a better understanding of the topic as a whole. Relating this to my personal blog, I definitely don’t know everything about professional golf, but the internet is helping me out a lot. By reading others work, it helps me formulate a better response for my own work. I’m able to understand others and see what works for golf blogs and what doesn’t.

    I find the blue links inside texts are inviting and most definitely helpful, but it has to be in moderation. Many times I’ll come across articles with numerous in-text links, no one wants to click on all of those. The useful pieces I come across usually have roughly two or three. Just enough to give you more information on confusing points, but not enough to overwhelm the reader. I also like reading that it shouldn’t be a “click here” link. Something more inviting and conceptual is more appealing to the reader.

  8. I found this video fascinating, to be honest. What stuck with me from this was when one of the ladies said, “the audience is right 90 percent of the time.” I am someone who loves to research something when I want to know more about it. In-depth searching, mind you. How would I be able to receive the information I am searching for if not for the knowledge had by other people? This may be slightly different from the “wisdom of the crowd” and the example of the ox’s weight. That theory is brilliant, but would only apply to situations that were numerical. In a political vote, there is no median to calculate.

    When it comes to hyperlinks in text, this blog is my first real experience trying it. I instantly loved doing it because it helps do many different things for my writing. Most recently, I used linking to help add credibility to someone I was mentioning in the post. The story I linked had nothing to do with the subject of the post, but the story helped me establish a persona and a level of respect, in away. I can also link text for stories that have to do with the subject of my post (which is what they should do most of the time). My post involved an announcement made from a company and it was easy to link a story written by a credible source dated right after the announcement was made.

  9. The “the wisdom of crowds” concept is very thought-provoking for me. The example of the crowd guessing the ox’s weight kind of made me confused. They say that a crowd’s answer is right 90% of the time, but how is that truly possible? I don’t think the size of a crowd would sway an answer. For example, Carnegie Mellon’s research says that “a small group of users accounted for a large number of ratings. Watching the video, I was a little confused, but then as I read the articles, it makes more sense to me than the video did. The articles held a lot of research about this term that really helped me understand the term better.

    Hyperlinks are very important. The reason that the links are blue and underlined is that it is a way to attract the reader. It is there for the reader to know that the author did their research and then the reader can do their own. The links have to be relevant to the content and placed correctly. It is a way to prove to the reader that the author really knows what they are talking about. Hyperlinks also have to show what you are about to read instead of being vague. I think they are very important because it makes the article’s content stronger because you’re showing where you got your information.

  10. emmyrinehart says:

    The wisdom of the crowds makes a lot of sense to me with my psychology background. It’s always better to have a larger sample size, but that being said we can’t allow for double-dipping so to speak. This obviously creates bias. It was interesting to read that most of the reviews and votes we see for products are from the same people, but I truly wonder why these websites like Amazon allow a user to do this. I know in surveys there’s often a feature where if you submitted once it won’t let you again, so I’m confused as to why they don’t have something like that implemented into that software as well.

    It was super interesting to learn that there was a reason that the links in text are blue, and even more interesting to learn that as time goes on we see that color less accurately. In graphic design, blue is a pretty safe, neutral color, so I can see why it’s a good choice for this. We learned that it is the #1 favorite color of all people respectively. It was also interesting to read about how you have to take into consideration how links will appear on a mobile device because it is so true that it’s unbelievably frustrating when you’re trying to click on something and it either won’t let you or it takes you to a nearby link instead. I think it’s cool that you can “pad” a link so that the clickable area is bigger as well. Overall, I think one link to a paragraph is best, and that’s probably what I’ll try to do within my writing.

  11. This video was actually very interesting to me. In that video they used the example of not one person guessing the weight out of quite a lot of people but when they put it all together and averaged each answer, the average was the correct answer. That fact that you can gather more information to answer a question or just receive information in general from a large amount of people than just one is very true. If you asked one person a question about directions for example, you may not get the details you need but if you ask several people, you will get bits and pieces from each person of where you need to go. When the women said that the audience is right 90% of the time, that came to me as quite a shock just because it is such a large percentage.

    Before this class, I had never linked texts before. I had always provided a source list with the urls in it after papers because that is what we had to do or with articles, I would just say the name of the website or whatever I was citing. Creating good linked text is a 50/50 sort of thing in my opinion. You do not want to have too much to overload the reader but you do not want too little to where the reader does not have any further information. To be able to write well with linked text you need to be able to correctly do it. The change of color of the text is very intriguing to readers, even myself. It is basically screaming “click me” which is what draws people to click on it but you have to do it correctly to where they are not questioning why it is placed where it is or why they are reading it.

  12. I never realized how important the way you write your links is. I thought it was interesting that a bad example of creating a link had the link in the beginning of the sentence, but a good example had it at the end. I did not really understand this very well. In my opinion, one of the most important things about creating a good link is making sure the text behind it excites the reader. People will not want to click on a link if there is nothing exciting backing it.

    I thought the video was strange, but interesting. In my opinion this theory is somewhat invalid, because not everyone leaves their opinion behind them, and those that do usually have a strong reasoning behind it. If you look at reviews for a product you will usually only see really strong passionate ones, or really angry negative ones, you won’t often find a normal opinion that fits somewhere in between the two.

  13. I found this video to be very entertaining, since I was really intrigued about the term “the wisdom of crowds”. The concept is extremely thought provoking, and after watching the video and comparing it to our lives today, it makes sense. While not one person guessed the ox’s weight correctly, the group as a whole were able to average out the correct answer. This applies to todays society because not one person knows everything, we each build off of what other people know to gather our own conclusions and elaborate even further, and so on. I think that this can be the case with learning about many different things. If you want to hear about something that has happened, you aren’t going to ask one person. You are going to go around and ask several people for their points of view in order to get a more broad idea.

    I knew enough about the placement of link text to know I should not write “click here” to get to a new page, but I did not realize the effort and thought that goes into it. I find myself constantly playing around, testing where the links look best when I am writing, since the placement is crucial to the efficiency of the link. When I am reading an article, I am a sucker for clicking on the links I see since they are perfectly placed. Its almost as if I want to learn more about whatever I’m reading about just as I get to the hyperlink. I know that this was the writers strategy, but I did not realize how often it worked until now.

    I think that my inexperience in the field of linking text into my work has stemmed from the fact that every link or source I had previously used had gone onto a works cited document or were cited in the paper according to regulations. I think that the different formatting of different styles of writing is something that i had to get used to, especially after reading samples of some of the blog posts that I wanted to base my personal page off of.

  14. hannahhebel says:

    From this video, I took “wisdom from the crowd” as being powerful because it sheds light on perspectives from various backgrounds and walks of life. I think that this is valuable because issues in one area of the world are going to be in some ways drastically different and in others fundamentally similar to another area. Especially with journalism and blogging, it’s our job to get familiar with a niche subject so that our audience can see an accurate combination of what is happening because if every individual had research and combined information on every subject, and update it every week, they just would not have the time.
    Blue underlining is used for hyperlinks by most outlets in accordance with W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and blue is the color most likely to bring about clicks, according to “Hyperlink Usability: Guidelines For Usable Links” by Cassandra Naji. I know from personal experience that when an article addresses and event or something factual that I want to check, I am way more likely to go to the source if it is accessible and hyperlinked right in the sentence I am reading. I was not aware that hyperlinks impact PageRank, so it is something that will definitely be in the back of my head when curating my next blog post.

  15. jbnucci says:

    After watching the video, I found it to be quite interesting. One talking point that stuck out to me was when one of the actors said, “the audience is right 90 percent of the time.” At first, this didn’t make any sense to me but after watching the video a second time and reading the article, it started to become more clear. When people who have some knowledge about a subject come together, they can figure out what is correct as a collective. The articles presented a lot of research about this subject and t help cleared up any confusing questions I had.

    Before signing up for this class, I rarely ever used hyperlinks because I always felt that it would distract the reader and steer them of course. This is mainly why I usually provide a source list at the bottom of the page and it’s how we presented our work in most of my English classes. In my opinion with hyperlinks, you don’t want to have too little where the audience doesn’t have enough information and you also don’t want overload them with much. I also found the “Don’t use “Click Here” article interesting and informative because when readers see the link “click here”, they usually think it’s a click bait link and most people won’t want to click on it. Most readers want to see a link that is welcoming and appealing.

  16. Crowd sourcing always kind of confusing me, so I found the video to be very informative on the topic since I really didn’t know a whole lot about it to begin with. I learned that through a large amount of people and ideas on the internet, we can learn a lot more and even be a more accurate group because of it. I thought it was so shocking that the audience is right 90 percent of the time. I would’ve assumed that number would’ve been much, much lower. I think this concept of the “wisdom of crowds” is very interesting, and it shows us that by reading multiple opinions and information from a variety of different people, we can actually learn useful information. While it is definitely is true that there are some things on the internet that don’t really educate us, like cat videos maybe, there definitely is a good argument in the ways crowd sourcing can make us more intelligent when it comes to our internet usage.

    I really liked reading about how to format hyperlinks in order to get the reader’s attention more. I know that the reader’s attention span is extremely short, so I really liked reading about how to keep the reader’s attention and gain it even more using links. I definitely think that by highlighting links blue and underlining them that it grabs the reader’s attention and tells them to “click here” without actually needing to write those words. I agree that you definitely should not post the full links in any post because it makes whatever text you’re looking at completely broken up and unattractive to look at, and writing thinks like “click here” or “press here” is totally necessary and almost redundant when it comes to hyperlinking. Harvard’s link writing techniques are very useful, and I think I will use some of them in my coming blog posts. I always try to hyperlink on the interesting parts of my texts, the parts that the link is actually describing, so I feel like I’m already utilizing a few of the techniques.

  17. I think links can be one of the most important parts of a story. Now, I don’t think you should have a ton of links for a short article, but you should at least have one or two. Having links in a story is definitely about quality over quantity. I think if you have too many links in a story, you get away from your own writing. Your own writing is the most important thing, but you should have enough links to back your writing up. I liked reading about formatting hyperlinks. Hyperlinks are great because they are there to grab the reader’s attention, but they’re not as obvious as having a “click here” portion to the article. I’ve learned in my short time as a journalist that using hyperlinks is one of the most important things when it comes to your story and I think that is very interesting.

    I thought one of the craziest things revealed in the video that the audience is always usually 90% correct. That is insane! I think the “wisdom of the crowd” is very important. By reading from the perspective of different people on the internet or just in general, we get a very unique look at a topic. I think that is what makes the internet so great is the ability to be able to have so many different perspectives of people right there for us to look at. Very interesting topic.

  18. Not only was the video very entertaining but it was also very informing. It’s crazy to think that alone, we may be wrong the majority of time but by piecing everyones own opinions we can come up with the right answer or decision. The quote “how might they judge important things if left to meet that fate” sticks out from the video because we are constantly wrong but each piece of what we know or what we can bring to the table is considered a contribution. Each persons thoughts is a piece of the big puzzle. “It showed that if the crowd were one, its estimate is keen” makes up “the wisdom of the crowds” and the larger the crowd gets the closer you will be to the correct answer.

    When i read articles, I am one who always clicks the underlined links for more information. I have always found these links to be easy and useful and since high school have tried to place as many in my own articles where they are best fit. Like I said earlier, links are useful tools that also draw people into the article. It can also show that you put time and effort into writing the article.
    A good link text has information that people want to read or haven’t seen before. Make sure to not spam the page with links but place them where you feel they will be of importance to the reader. The reader is going to click on a link that is either timely, or they don’t know what that line may have meant, but make sure to always try to educate the reader with your links. Links can help make a story great.

  19. vannabellejo says:

    Allow me to start by saying I loved the mini-musical on “the wisdom of the crowds”. It was not only hysterical, but beautifully covered the idea and history behind the term. Personally, I’m a large fan of the idea of the “crowd” and their ideas compared to their decisions/answers in power.

    At first, I did not understand what the video really had to do with links, but the more I read, the quicker I understood. References are extremely important when you’re making any case. From research papers to blogs, supporting evidence is crucial to success. While I really enjoyed how these readings discussed true placement and what words should be underlined and blue, the most important thing is that there are links in blogs as references to discussion. Without them, we might as well be writing advice columns or fiction.

  20. First off, the video on “the wisdom of crowds” was very informative as well as entertainingly crafted. I found it to be a bit eye opening – I have always been disgusted by the idea of voting being an exclusive right to the elite, but at the same time I’ve always wondered, can we really trust everyone in the public to make responsible decisions? The answer seems to be yes. I was very comforted by the fact that when turned into an average, crowds tend to make shockingly accurate guesses, choices and decisions. This was an interesting piece that made me more confident in the voting power of everyday citizens.

    As far as the articles on links, I was interested to hear that they are much more complicated and important than I had thought prior. I found it fascinating the way we have sorted links down to a science – with the idea of page ranking, etc. I had never heard of this, or of a “link farm” (a method of cheating the page ranking system).

    I also was interested in the evolvement of links for accessibility reasons. I have never thought twice about the usage of underlined blue text for links, until reading these articles. Every aspect of a link, from the color to the way it flows in reading is hyper analyzed. For example, blue is a controversial color to use for links at the moment, because older people have a harder time recognizing it with age. I think this will change the classic blue link to an easier color to read, especially now that more and more generations are growing up with technology that will need to adapt to them the way we’ve adapted to it.

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