What would Miss Manners say?

September 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Tonight I was confronted with a digital question that I thought a lot about and still haven’t resolved. Here’s how it came about:

I read a really great article in the Village Voice and decided to share my thoughts about it with Twitter.

I read the article in the newspaper. The actual, tangible, ink-gets-on-your-fingers newspaper. I was on the train when I decided it was time to tell the world how I felt about the article. I follow @villagevoice and gave them the appropraite shout out. I do not follow the reporter, and since I was on my mobile phone, I didn’t take the extra effort to find him and mention him in the tweet (the contact line at the end of the article listed his email address but not his Twitter handle). But, this was not my dilemma so I digress.

Since I had read the article in the print paper, it didn’t seem natural to me to go to the Village Voice website, find the article, copy the link and paste it in my tweet. I figured I had offered enough context in my tweet that people would know how to find the article if they wanted it. Someone I didn’t know @ replied me to ask for the link. Here’s where I got stuck. First I thought “Awesome, someone read my tweet!” then I thought, “hmmm, I could go to the Village Voice website, find the article, copy the link and paste it in my @reply, or, he could go to the Village Voice website, find the article and read it.” The latter seemed more like the shortest distance between the two points (especially because I was on my mobile phone), so I responded that I had read the print article so I didn’t have the link but that it shouldn’t be hard to find on the Village Voice website.

Right after I sent the @ reply, I felt guilty. Should I have just searched for the link and sent it to him? Should I have included it in my tweet in the first place? Was I doing a disservice to the article by not making the link a prominent part of my post? Would the Village Voice have preferred the hits to the article page, or the increased time on their site as users navigated from the homepage to the article page?

Hyperlinks are social currency. Hell, they’re what the whole web is built on. I get it. And, ok, full disclosure, another reason I didn’t include the link was because I wanted more characters to use for my own personal commentary. I don’t exactly feel guilty for that, because that’s what I, and pretty much everyone else, use Twitter for. I do, however, feel bad if I somehow gave the Village Voice the short end of the stick. And I certainly didn’t want to annoy the dude who took the time to read my Tweet and found it interesting enough to want to actually do what I had suggested. But, I dunno. I guess I just didn’t think it was too much to ask that people take a couple extra steps to reach their destination.

So, while I continue to ponder that one, here is the link to the article I was talking about in the first place:


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