People who leave a bunch of dead links in their write ups are simply not taking full advantage of the sheer power
of this place
! Yes it is very important at times to leave links open for others to use in the future. Sometimes you can make the node silly and weird at the same time
so as to allow someone else in the future a potential seed that might trigger their creative juices
. However, because everybody
does this either on purpose or by careless accident and neglect, don't think you have to do the same. Here's a few suggestions
to keep in mind.
THESE ARE NOT RULES.
Lord knows I bend and break these suggestions way too much myself, but with trial and error I'm learning what does and doesn't work and when. You can take these suggestions or leave them, but personally I've found them to be very useful. You scoff and disregard the following attempt to share useful information at your own risk. And YES, some of the following has been mentioned before elsewhere and as I find them I'll link them back here. Heck, some of it's in the FAQ too, but not all of it, and people are still leaving a bunch of dead links so a lot of this can never be stressed enough.
Consider using brackets as you go: If you compose online inside E2s writeup field, this will save you time when you look over your piece before posting it, and also may save you time when you go back to edit and improve upon your own words.
Think Person Place Idea and Thing: You don't have to hardlink every other word. However, any word that relates to your topic should get bracketed, whether you know there's a node out there on the other end or not. Whenever you come across a person, place, thing, or idea in your own content, try bracketing it.
Keep the size of your node titles down: Instead of taking a whole bunch of words or entire sentences and noding them all together as one big node which serves no purpose and would make a bad title for a future node, focus on specific words and familiar phrases, or brief phrases that just jump out at you and are begging to be written about. Making a node title just for the sake of making a node title might be funny to you, but it's also inevitably pointless, could weaken your chances for other voters to like your writing, and it just doesn't work well when you think long term. Which brings me to -
Node for the ages: This doesn't apply just to the content of your piece, but also how you connect your piece to others. Do you want to improve your chances for people happening upon your piece as they click around? Even months or years after you originally wrote the piece? Do you want anyone interested in similar subject matter to possibly see your contribution to that topic? Linking your piece to others is the most ideal way to accomplish that.
Bracket hopefully and idealistically: Maybe you don't know of a word or phrase has been noded already, but if it was you know it would be an ideal complement to what you're working on. Go ahead and bracket it now. You can always check to see if it's out there later.
Remember where you've been: Are there words you find that you use a lot which you know have good nodes out there in E-Space already? Even if it doesn't necessarily apply directly to what you're saying at the moment, try linking to it anyway. What could it hurt? Maybe keep a list on file or in your notes by your computer, so you have easy reference to common phrases and definitions of words you use often. If you liked the page in question, and want to support those words which you enjoyed, sometimes the best compliment you can give a fellow Everythingian isn't a vote but a link.
Check your nodes: After I post any node I write, I try to take the time to go back and proofread it again. No matter how careful I was before I hit one of those Create it as a buttons, I invariably overlook misspellings, syntax errors, and what not. While you're proofreading, go ahead and click through all your nodes to make sure they go somewhere. Or at least to see whether or not you want them to go somewhere.
Link back and forth: Each time you click a node, if it takes you directly to a node that's titled the exact same words you chose for that node, be sure to click on the search button in the upper right hand corner. That should take you directly back to your recently written node. Don't just hit the back button on your browser. In this way, you will have immediately set a soft link at the bottom of both your page and the node to which you're linking. Even if the writer of that other node never adds your node in to theirs as a hard link, people reading his node still have a chance of seeing yours, at least till the soft nodes fade away.
What to do if your hard link isn't there: If you click on one of your node links, and instead of another node you get a list of nodes with vaguely similar titles to your nodelink, check to see which ones might most apply to the definition or intention of your choice of words.
Say you want to make a link to the single word bluegrass, but when you click on that word, it doesn't show an exact match (I know in reality it does. This is just an example). However, when you look down the list of nodes that do show up, you get a list that looks something like this:
Go ahead and check those nodes out. Read what's there. See if any of them apply in some way to what you were trying to say. Maybe you'd find a node that was called Bluegrass Music instead of just Bluegrass. When you read it, you find that it defines the style of music rather well, and that that was your intent when you created the node. Maybe you were referring to all different kinds of music, but didn't want to stop your own prose in order to spend a paragraph defining Bluegrass yourself. Bingo! That's what hard linking is for. You can link to Bluegrass Music without having to add the word Music to your own link.
Befriend the pipe: The pipe is a vertical line you can make with your keyboard. That particular key is usually near the upper right corner of most basic keyboards, near the backspace key. If you type in the bracket, then type Bluegrass Music, then the pipe character which looks like this " | " and then just the word Bluegrass before you close the bracket, you'd get a node that just said bluegrass but would go directly to Bluegrass Music if that link existed. In this way you can link to anything without having to compromise the actual wording of your own node. Or if you don't mind compromising your own words, rewrite that sentence so the actual name of the title can appear prominently as a hard link in your piece.
You could choose to write orange and link to purple instead if you wanted. Although I don't recommend going too far out there with that. The best way to utilize this ability is to link to similar material to your original intent, so that it helps build cohesion with E2 as a whole, and also helps illuminate your own personal efforts with your own node.
If you have time, fill in the hole: If you're anything like me, you're always looking for new ideas for E2 nodes. Say while you're checking your nodes you come across a word or phrase which you think really should have it's own page in E2 but just doesn't. If you have the time, write up a second node about that phrase. This too will help build cohesion in E2 and further makes your previous node look good. Many people I've spoken to here in E2 have pointed out that one of the many things they look at when choosing to vote or cool a node is the validity of the hard AND soft links in the piece. So if you have the time it could be in your best interest to write up an extra paragraph or two and post it to the orphaned node.
Leaving it blank is no crime: Since E2 is largely user supported, and definitely an ongoing project, there's gonna be incomplete links and nodeshells and all kinds of nonsense. Nothing can change that. Whether they're left on purpose or accidently, it's gonna happen. In fact, if you strategically choose how and when you do it, you can attempt to improve the quality of orphan nodes and potential nodeshells.
Say you come across the name of a relatively famous person, but no one's written about him yet, and you don't have time to write up a bio about him yourself. Node the name, and leave it for someone else to do, or for you to come back and do later when you have more time. That way, if someone ever comes along and writes about that famous person, you'll already be linked to them, before they even knew they were gonna write it. Maybe they'll come across your node, read it, click on that link and it'll encourage them to share what they know.
Near Matches and Ignore Exact: A very useful supplement to the search function in the upper right hand corner of E2 consists of two check boxes. One is marked "near matches" and the other is marked "ignore exact." Go ahead and try the words you used in that node, and if there's already an exact match, see what similar node titles are out there already. If you like how any of them read, consider expanding upon your own content and hard link them in, or at least soft link them to the bottom of your page. This further expands the usefulness of your own node, and builds the cohesion that keeps E2 together.
Throw in the occasional monkey wrench: Remember earlier I said that with the 'pipe' character you can link to anything in Everything and use different words. This is a nice way to surprise some people, like putting an Easter Egg in your node. You can opt to do something close to the original words intent, or exactly opposite for aesthetic value, to further drive whatever point your making home, or for comic effect. I strongly recommend not doing this too often though, cuz it sometimes ticks off people. Believe me I've learned that the hard way. Certainly don't do it as often as I've done it in this node. =)
I hope I've made a convincing argument that People who leave a bunch of dead links in their write ups are cheating themselves, other Everythingians, and E2 as a whole. It does take some extra effort to work on dead links and either route them in with what already exists on E2 or strategically decide to leave them open and dead, but the effects of taking that extra effort can really be worth the while. Provided you have the time and don't have a day job.