Friday, August 04, 2006

Hey You! Tell Me I'm Great!

Ok, I think it’s finally time to pass on a little of my hard-won internet wisdom.

If you ever decide to create anything, or join any kind of online community that showcases or shares anything you’ve created…Don’t be a link-whore.

So what exactly is a link-whore?

In order to answer this, it would be easier to first define what a link-whore isn’t.

A non-link whore will start writing a blog, or posting short stories on a fiction website, or art on an art website. They will then focus on creating the best thing they possibly can, and when they get visitors, they’ll feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.

A link whore on the other hand, is just a technologised version of an attention whore. They want the fans and visitors, but can’t really be bothered to put any real work in. They have a stat-counter on their website or page, and all they’re concerned with is getting that counter to go up.

It doesn’t matter if the hit is from a genuine visitor, or someone they’ve tricked into visiting. All that matters is that the numbers on the hit-counter increase.

The worst thing is that these people also tend to be the people who lack any real talent at what they do. They have no work ethic, and are the kind of people who dream about being authors for the book signings and legions of adoring fans…and somehow conveniently forget that they have to actually write the thing first.

For example, when I started this blog, I just wrote it. I didn’t try to promote it. I only comment on blogs I actually read and find interesting, and then only if I had something to say.

Link-whores are the absolute bastards who will spend a few hours at their computer, visiting random blogs and posting comments on them all with a generic “Hey! Great blog! Visit mine at…”

In other words “Hey, I’ve not even glanced at what you’re writing about, but hopefully you’ll visit my blog just because I’ve commented on yours. Also, you’ve probably worked hard to get lots of readers, so by attaching myself to your blog, I might be able to leech some of them!”

So what got me started on this little rant?

Well, last night, as I do most nights, I was browsing Deviantart.

Now Deviantart has one of the best anti-asshole systems in place that I’ve ever seen on a website. They’ll allow brutal constructive criticism, but anything abusive, you simply fire off a message to their helpdesk. The comment is investigated. If it’s found to be against policy, the perpetrator gets a warning, and if they get another complaint against them that’s verified, they get banned from the service.

Unfortunately, you can’t stop the link whores.

Yesterday, I find a message in my community messages inbox. A random message from a random guy that simply read: “Hello! Why don’t you take a look at my gallery?”

Now people may wonder why shit like this pisses me off so much.

Ok, let me first explain the acceptable way this could have been done.

If this guy had stumbled across my gallery, and found we both draw in a similar style, or we both did a different version of the same character recently, then he could have said “Hey, I saw your pic of Supergirl, we draw freakishly alike! Look (link to his picture).”

You see, there’s at least a reason for me to look. If a guy liked what I did, and asked for me to critique one of his pieces…that’s a reason. On the other side of the coin, if someone saw one of my pieces, and linked to one of theirs to show me what I could have done better…that’s fine as well.

Also, if this guy had even put in the effort to at least make it appear there was a reason for him to contact me, other than whoring his own page, I could have cut him some slack. Even a couple lines of criticism for one of my pieces would have worked. A question, a statement…anything!

This guy doesn’t care who I am. Chances are he’s not even glanced at a single one of my pictures. He doesn’t care who I am, he just wants his page views to go up by another hit. He’s simply sat in front of his computer for a few hours, fired of hundreds of random messages, in the hope that some of them will produce a hit on his gallery.

That’s the thing. This guy has put a hundred times more effort in getting people to his page, than he has actually creating something people would want to see.

The other reason this pissed me off is that this guy absolutely sucked. I don’t mean his art wasn’t great, I mean it was absolutely, completely and utterly terrible. His drawings where obviously done with a mouse in MS Paint. Give a 4 year old a piece of paper and a pack of crayons, and that’s what his work looked like…but without any of the 4 year old’s charm.

I’m not exaggerating here. I mean his work literally looked like a five year old did it. One drawing was literally of a ‘person’ just standing there. Head was a circle, torso was another circle and sticks for arms and legs. I thought for a minute I was actually dealing with a kid, but a look at his profile showed he was 17.

So here’s the story. This guy obviously has an artist friend who told him about Deviantart. So, like jumping on the blogging bandwagon, this guy decided he wanted in. So he cobbled together a few doodles, posted them…and then decided he wanted more hits.

So he goes off on a link-whore spamathon.

The thing I really don’t get here is the mentality of these people. There’s just no pride or care in anything they do. It’s like they completely miss the point. They’re like the reality TV stars of the internet. They have no talent but they want to be ‘famous’ anyway.

People get recognition for the things they do. That’s the point. These people want the recognition, but can’t be bothered to do anything for it.

“Hey, look at me! Tell me I’m great! ”

“Umm, but you’re not doing anything.”

“I don’t care, just tell me I’m great!”

“But you’re not.”

“So? Tell me I’m great anyway.”

It’s like paying someone to tell you they like you. They don’t mean it, so what’s the point of it?

It’s like being offered a choice. One, You can write a book, put the work in, get it published, and find a smallish readership that bought the book because they like your writing. Two, you can pick out a really cool book jacket, make “blah, blah, blah” the entire content of the text, and through a clever marketing campaign trick millions into buying it.

People like you and me would pick the first choice. The smaller, but genuine readership. The link-whores would choose option two. They’ve not actually created anything, have nothing to be proud of, but have sold a million copies.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been a member of Deviantart for just over two weeks. In that time, I’ve only got just over a hundred page views and only one of my drawings has been favorited by a single person.

However, I’m happy with that, because every single one of those gallery views was from someone who was just browsing, saw one of my pieces and clicked it. I’m proud of my favorite, because I don’t know the guy, he doesn’t know me, but he liked my drawing enough to add it to his favorite gallery.

If I wanted to, a spate of forum postings, links and comments could probably triple those numbers…but what’s the point is tricking or brown-nosing people into visiting my page? It’d increase my hit counter…but here’s the thing…that’s all it would do.

Just like my recent post on constructive criticism, it would be really easy to find a group of deviantart users and set up a mutual appreciation society, but why would I want to.

Maybe I’m old fashioned. I want the things I do to be judged on their own merits.


rayray said...

So, is there like an award for most hits or something?
Why would anyone go to the trouble to get a shitpot of hits?
It makes no sense to me

Paulius said...

It's an ego thing. If this blog got 10,000 hits a day instead of just 30, I'd be proud as hell.

The part that makes no sense is that these people don't care how they increase their numbers.

In a way, it's like a singer buying a hundred thousand cpoies of their own album so they can get a gold record.

MC Etcher said...

Great Blog! Visit mine at... Ok, I can't bring myself to do it.

When I first started using Statcounter, I was very pleased with the number of hits I was getting (10 a day!) and then I wondered how many were accidental.

So I set up a blank blog with its own statcounter. 12 hits a day. I felt special.

delmer said...

I've had a guy comment, twice, on my blog about how he was looking for the latest in weight-loss info and stumbled across my site.

Well, I have lost over 100 pounds. My secret for weight loss is: I'm being treated for a pituitary tumor which sort of screwed with my hormones.

I'm not eating subs and walking. I'm not on Jenny Craig, Slim Fast, Trim Spa etc.

It would be hard or others to make use of my weight loss tactics. If the guy had read a single paragraph of the entry he'd commented to, he would have known this.

So the guy was obviously a spammer and link whore. I visited his site and took a look at some of his entries.

Some of the info looked pretty good and I Googled on some snippets of text. This turned up identical, copyrighted, articles on other sites. This guy was stealing copyrighted material and posting it uncredited.

I, in a pi**y mode about this (for much the same reason you were in your entry) contacted the copyright holders of a few of the articles.

The goofball still has his site up, but the material is now credited.

Kato said...

Hey! Great blog! Visit mine at

Unlike Etcher, I have no scruples.

Linkwhores are everywhere. It's rather amusing to see them on social networking sites like MySpace (shudder) where I guess they would be called "Friendwhores".