I’ve been at this blogging thing for a while now (year five, baby). In that time I have learned a thing or two about blogging. Part of what I’ve learned is from direct experience (in other words I screwed up) and other things I learned by experiencing other blogs. I would like to take a moment to discuss a couple of the things I’ve learned. Namely linking to sources.
A site that has become popular with my libertarian friends is The Free Thought Project. One of the topics commonly covered on that site is police brutality. Anybody who has read this blog even for a short while know that I’m not a police apologist and generally despise modern policing practices. Therefore a site discussing police brutality should be right up my ally. But time and again I’ve noticed two issues with The Free Through Project: claims are made without any citation and quoted articles aren’t linked to.
Case in point, this article discussing a woman who was blinded by a police officer who apparently used a JPX Pepper Gun under the minimum recommended range. The article makes the following claim:
The results from firing the gun at such a close proximity were catastrophic.
The blast of pepper gel sliced her right eye in half, fractured her right orbital bone and severed the optic nerve in her left eye.
But no source is given. In fact the only source provided is an article that was merely referred to by “According to the Press Enterprise,”. No link was given to the article. Thankfully Google makes it easy to search for an article with a few simple keywords. Two links come up on Google. The first simply delivers me to a 404 error while the second takes me to an article that covers the story but isn’t the article quoted (but I don’t know if the link that now leads to a 404 error was the originally quote article because no link was provided on The Free Through Project). It’s possible that the description of the woman’s injuries were in the first article as well but no mention of any source was given in regards to that claim.
The problem with failing to link to the originally quote article is that I can’t use The Free Through Project as a source. No claim made within it can be verified. I can’t even look up a cached version of the quoted article to see whether or not it originally stated what is claimed by The Free Thought Project article because I don’t have an actual link.
To put it bluntly, The Free Thought Project article is shit. For all I know the author found the original story and made up a bunch of crap to make it sound even worse in an effort to push an agenda. The headline screams sensationalism as does the graphic description of the damage done to the woman’s face. If the claims made in the headline and the description of the injuries could be verified then the apparent sensationalism would be fact. But they can’t be verified, which makes the entire article worthless for anybody seeking actual facts about the story.
If you’re a blogger, or writing any webpage really, you should link to any articles you reference. Failing to do so not only make you look unprofessional it also makes you look sleazy.