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Dec. 15, 2008, 3:43 p.m.

NYT to linkers: Drop dead!

The NYT’s Year In Ideas feature is one of the best newspaper franchises built over the past decade. I’ve known people for whom it’s the one Sunday a year they buy the Times. And I’ve seen it hanging around friends’ apartments long after its December pub date.

Which is why it’s so odd that this year’s edition (published Sunday) is presented in an interactive format that, while attractive, prevents anyone from linking to individual pieces within the issue. (You can link to the entire Year in Ideas presentation en masse, as I did above; you just can’t link to any of the 54 articles within it.)

This means that these great little articles — each of which is exactly the kind of thing you could imagine emailing your friends a link to — are stuck in a kind of content ghetto. Instead of a direct link, you have to send your buddy a link to the main page and say something like: “Okay, once you click on that link and click ‘Start Reading,’ then click on ‘P’ and then the third little box.”

Avoiding that little dance is the whole purpose of permalinks. And people who want to link to pages have noticed (“a little tricky to navigate,” “packaged this year in an ‘interactive feature,’ which is Esperanto for ‘no permalinks’“)

Making this odder is that the NYT actually did create normal text versions of each of these articles, complete with permalinks — they’re just not exposed anywhere on the Times site. You won’t find them by clicking around on the Magazine site. But you can find them through Google.

Apologies if this seems like a small point to harp on, but it feels like a misstep by the normally surefooted Times. Part of the link economy is making it possible (even easy!) for other people to send you traffic.

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email (joshua_benton@harvard.edu) or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     Dec. 15, 2008, 3:43 p.m.
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