Figured rather than an email, I’d just send you a link and ask for comments in the field below–make this kind of a conversation about our policy for incentivizing writers to link within the IM network. You can read the full post there, but here’s the basics:
1. I ask a volunteer in the IM community to pick 4 random numbers at random.
2. I find the four articles that correspond to these numbers once IM’s sites are laid out alphabetically and posts laid out chronologically. So if the number 1 was chosen, the first article published that month on Blue Living Ideas (our first site, alphabetically) would be the article that number corresponds to.
3. I give bonuses to the authors of those four random articles. If they link to another, related article in that site, $10. If they link to a related article elsewhere in IM, $40. Total possible bonus $50.
The last two months, out of $200 total bonus possible, we’ve averaged $35 total payout of $200 possible. Last month, we paid out $60. This month, $10. Here are the articles chosen at random this month–good ones, for sure, but not linked and therefore missing cash bonuses.
If you look through them, you might see that Liz’s post on Feel Good Style has a link to another FGS article (that’s the $10 earned this month), and that Harry’s article on The Inspired Economist has a link within IE, and a link to a CleanTechnica article…which should qualify him for the $50, but the caveat here is that, as the editor of TIE, I actually placed those two links into Harry’s post after it was written.
I think there’s little better that we can do to take advantage of our diversity as a network than to link to each other’s great work, and that’s why this policy was designed and implemented. It’s not a small amount of time I commit to this and the Pul-IM-zer prize, and I don’t mind doing it, if it’s going to be useful/helpful/fun. Believe me, after reading the ~1,000 articles we publish every month for the past 5 months, I see that many of you do, in fact, link very well. Jeff, Becky, Andrea, and Zach are really great at this, in particular. But I also see that most of our writers link to our sites rarely if at all. I realize it’s not practical for everyone, especially those of you with a real niche site that aren’t as easy to link to other IM sites (Gas2, FGS, CAGW), and I totally get that.
So I’m opening this to your thoughts–should we continue this policy into 2013? Do you usually link? If not, what stops you? Is there a better way to incentivize this? Thoughts for improvement?