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Link Etiquette: You Do Not Need Permission to Link

In an interesting discussion on Split Coast Stampers Forum, the old question of whether or not you need permission to link to someone, in your blogroll or otherwise, has come up.

Again, let me make this perfectly clear to everyone. The blog “etiquette” for linking to someone is to link away. You do not need permission to link to another blog or website. Link to them in your blogroll, in content, wherever you want.

What you do need permission for is to copy content from someone else that exceeds fair use. I cover that extensively in What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content.

If you link to someone and they ask you to remove their link, then it is polite to do so. It is good manners.

Should you ask permission to link to someone on your blogroll or otherwise? Maybe. It depends upon what you are going to do with that link. Blogroll links are recommendations, encouraging visitors to follow the sites you recommend. If they don’t want your recommendation, you probably don’t want them on your list.

However, if you are using a link to their blog or website in a way that makes you money, takes money away from them, or exploits their site for your own benefit, then I recommend you get permission as the perspective on the outgoing link has changed.

As I’ve said before, if you want to link to this blog, please don’t ask me. I get requests constantly and I can’t keep up with them all. Go ahead. Link away. Abuse me and you’ll hear from me, but for general blogrolls and linking, you have my permission.

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9 Comments

  1. Posted January 12, 2007 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I really do not get that linking permission business. Is the century-old publishing etiquette not good enough for bloggers? Nobody ever ever asks for permission when they list a hundred other publications in a technical article. Nobody ever asks for permission when they cite other books in the bibliography or in the text, even when it is to fuel controversy or outrage. What if I am citing dead authors (Shakespeare or Voltaire or Cicero)? I cannot get permission from them can I? Does this mean I can or I can’t cite them? (I am quite sure Voltaire would want nothing to do with me and my pathetic amateur writer / philosopher skills.)

  2. Posted January 12, 2007 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Asking someone for a link is a politeness, I think, but an unneeded one. The more people who link to me, the better!

    However, there is a very important caveat. I put together a list of the Top Ten Space Images of 2006, and chose an image of Saturn as #1.

    Well, my article got on Slashdot and Digg, so I got hundreds of thousands of hits. So many people clicked on the Saturn link that the NASA server got bogged down!

    So if you link to someone in an article, it might be nice to warn them if the article may get slammed. In practice, I’m not sure how to do that, since you can never be sure when it will happen, or which link it will be (though in my case the top image link was the obvious one).

  3. Posted January 12, 2007 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    What you did is called “hotlinking” and is considered, how shall I put this, WRONG. Most NASA images are available for use, but I’m sure they would prefer you host the image rather than linking to it, thus making you pay for the bandwidth not them. I’m sure they appreciated the boost in traffic in general, but hotlinking is very bad practice, and a different issue.

    If you choose to hotlink, you are required to ask permission, as that is content. Linking to web pages, however, does not require permission.

  4. Posted January 16, 2007 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    May I link to you. Just joking.
    “What you do need permission for is to copy content from someone else that exceeds fair use.” You’d be surprised the number of people who think as long as they cite their source, they can copy it.

  5. Posted September 7, 2009 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    My question is, once you’ve linked to someone, is it all right to ask them to link to you? My husband says no.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    It would help if you actually explained what you mean by “content.”

    • Posted January 29, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      Content is content. It is anything you publish. Video, poetry, words, pictures, podcasts, music….

  7. Posted January 29, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    See What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content for a better explanation.


8 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  7. [...] works, yet I see this act as the online equivalent of an in-text citation within a term paper. Lorelle on WordPress had a good point to make [...]

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