A couple of months ago WordPress started adding automatically generated links to the bottom of the comments section on WordPress blogs. WordPress calls them “possibly related posts”. The rationalisation was that these automatically generated links gave the commenter or comment viewer the option of seeing similar blogging posts from WordPress bloggers. The idea seems to make sense, based on the options one has on Youtube and Amazon (although I have more faith in Amazon than the others).
However, I have noticed some interesting links popping up at the foot of my comment sections. My post yesterday generated a couple of comments and so the automatically generated links were added by WordPress, one to a site on rude cartoons. Now I am definitely not prudish, but I didn’t really feel that such a site was really appropriate to the kind of stuff I want to talk about and the tone of my own blog.
By inference, these links are associated with me and the character and content of my own blog. I have no control over what automatically generated sites WordPress chooses to associate with my blog. I have no say over whether the content is appropriate, according to my standards. WordPress and their monkeys at Sphere determine these links using a “document genome” to do the link matching (sounds exciting, doesn’t it?).
The other issue is that maybe I don’t want my readers traipsing away from my site to explore these automatically generated links. I may want the readers of my comment section to stay on my blog and browse the rest of the site’s content without being drawn away by possibly related posts. And “possibly related” hardly fills me with great confidence that the linked blog posts have any commonality at all.
Furthermore, I can see how this particular automatically generated linking feature could be extended into the realm of advertising, akin to Google ads. How much of any revenue stream will be made by WordPress and how much by the bloggers? I’d be interested in hearing if WordPress is looking at commercialising the automatically generated links to make advertising available in this manner.
Now I want to give WordPress a chance with their automatically generated links to other WordPress blogs. I do believe in serendipity and I do think that cross-linking with other blogs on similar topics is an interesting feature (although doesn’t a blogroll perform the same or similar function?). WordPress said that they are looking at “tweaking” the results to your liking so this is a move in the right direction.
WordPress does allow the automatic linking feature to be switched off all together. I will monitor the automatically generated links more closely in the coming weeks and decide how useful or distracting these links turn out to be. I want to give WordPress a chance but I am annoyed at the lack of control I have as to the relevance and appropriateness of the automatically generated content.
I am playing “wait and see” for the moment.