No Links Please, We’re Talking

The day I learned to hyperlink goes down in my personal history as a triumph. I am not a techie person and mastering that small, simple skill felt like an accomplishment.  

Now I wonder if it was a trick. While it’s nice to connect people, places, and things you post about, conventional wisdom about blogging says, if you want to keep people reading your post, don’t give them the choice to click away. If you provide a link that’s appealing, they may click on it and…whoops! They’re gone.

Keeping the visitor in your place is the ultimate goal.

If the title of this post rings familiar, it’s because I stole it from a play called No Sex Please, We’re British.  The play focuses on a young newlywed couple who are inundated with unwanted, and uninvited, visitors. These newlyweds want privacy, if you know what I mean. The situation is made worse when, ironically, they mistakenly receive a box full of pornography.

This play is a farce, so I’m not sure if it has much in the way of theme. From what I recall from seeing it years ago at a local community playhouse, it was all about distractions.

Distractions are the devil. They take us away from what we are supposed—even want—to do. Sometimes they are fun. Sometimes they are unavoidable. If you are a writer, you lambast family, chores, Facebook, list serves, blogs, even your day job, as killing your productivity, even while you cleave onto them.  The availability of time sucks is endless. Each one is a figurative (or maybe literal) box full of pornography.

Over a year ago, I decided to try using a distraction to overcome my distractions. I was as guilty as anyone of spending hours cruising around and accomplishing nothing, so on a whim, I created a Facebook group to call myself out.  I named it How Many Pages Did You Write Today?

The group’s stated mission is this: HMPDYWT? was created to provide a place for writers to discuss their progress–what they write, how they write, how much they write, when they can’t write. It’s all about writing.

 By “discuss” I meant talk, which on the Internet means write a post on the page. That was my intention. People would join, come to the page, and post about their progress, or lack of progress.

 I soon discovered it was difficult for people who are constantly wired in to just talk.

Like the newlywed couple, the group was inundated with unwanted visitors: BSP. Blog drops. YouTube videos. LOL cats. This was not the purpose of the group, but it’s hard to be the boss, or the police, as some people put it. I had not foreseen this development, which seemed like a trivial thing at first. But soon it became obvious that the more folks linked, the less they hung around to talk.

The proverbial last straw was a LOL cat with a coupon for cat food. It was an ad. For cat food. On what was meant to be a writers discussion group.

 After that, I made a rule. No Links.

I make exceptions. First, if someone has a new book out, we want to share in the celebration, so I ask that the author  message me the info.  I post it. For new members who join, I’m happy to post an introductory link to a blog or website. We have a document filed with websites and/or blogs of members.

A while back we did a Blog Share Day. I suspended the No Links rule and invited everyone to hyperlink to their hearts’ delight. It was fun, kind of an online free for all.

But the next day, we went back to No Links. To talking.

Along the way, the group lost some members. Was it because of the No Links rule? I don’t know. If someone only came by to plug a blog, a book, a website, a service, a product, and was offended to find they were not allowed to link out, that’s okay with me. There are a lot of places to do all of that.

After all, how many places can you go to just talk?

Do you think No Links is too controlling? Do you wonder if constantly plugging ourselves and our interests, or posting a photo that says what we want to say rather than saying it ourselves, is undermining our ability to have  an on-the-spot conversation?

In keeping with the theme, I didn’t hyperlink anything in this post. Until now.

You can find How Many Pages Did You Write Today? on Facebook.

9 thoughts on “No Links Please, We’re Talking

  1. jccassels says:

    Ramona, I love your no links policy. It’s part of what makes HMPDYWT such a great group! Anyone who has something to share link-wise gets to share. The focus of the group is still on writing, and encouraging one another. Sharing links, pictures, etc., reminds me of my elderly aunt who, in lieu of conversing with family and friends, pored over the newspaper for articles and comic strips to clip and send. You can’t build or maintain relationships like that. Thanks to you, I’ve met some wonderful and supportive friends. I don’t think that would have been as easily facilitated in a world comprised of lolcats.

    Like

  2. Karen in Ohio says:

    As in any other benevolent dictatorship, you have the right to make the rules. Good for you!

    Here’s a tip for links on websites: Instead of a direct link, use one that forces the link to open in a new window. That way, your site is still open after the reader is finished with the other link.

    Like

  3. Eleanor Anders says:

    As busy as I get, (and right now I’m supper busy), it’s nice to know there’s a place to go to “talk”. Moreover, you’re not the only place with a no links/no promotion rule, I belong to a few groups following that line, and I like going there too. There are plenty of places to post a link, but only a few gems where the goal is to be social.:-)

    Like

  4. Kourtney Heintz says:

    Ramona, I think for a discussion group a no links policy is important. I love your group concept too. As writers, we are pushed to be social and market ourselves, but sometimes there is such a push for those things, the pages fall to the background. Thanks for reminding me what writers should do first. Write. 😉

    Like

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