Monday, May 21, 2012

Internet Citations

One of the more irritating aspects of the internet is that it encourages laziness.  The particular symptom of this laziness which I'm about to go on a rant is the non-citation citation.  Or the linking without citation.

Normally when linking on a blog post, comment, or forum; citations are often important as the link may be to a general article of which only a specific section of said link is actually relevant to the discussion at hand.  The article may be interesting in and of itself, but also contains much information that specifically speaking is not pertinent to the discussion.

 I love internet debates as much as the next obsessive/compulsive arguer.  It's a wonder my wife hasn't divorced me yet for all the times I argue with her. I enjoy information exchange through contrast.

But I'm a busy guy.  I have things that I have to do and things I want to do.  Others are in the same camp.  The internet is a wonderful tool, but we still have to be sure that we respect the time of others.

For example, I recently participated in a discussion where the subject came up about homosexuality's supposed permanence.  Yet this was the link I was given.  A wall of text.  Now it MIGHT support the idea of homosexuality as a permanent condition, but who knows?  The link is so broad that it may or may not even touch the subject.  (And as a not so minor note, I trust Wikipedia for controversial topics about as far as I can throw my apartment complex).  The interlocutor might as well have linked here for all the good it does his argument.

Links are great, but do not an argument make.  Proper citation is what is needed.  Blockquote the relevant information from the article, with a link to the source.  It really isn't hard.

The citations are important for two reasons:

  1. It helps to support the actual argument
  2. It demonstrates that the linked source is actual relevant to the discussion

Citations show a control over content.  It presents a focused mind and the ability to provide relevant information to the discussion at hand.  This is especially important in internet discussions, as linking is so easy and information is so accessible.  But making sure that information is relevant and showing that the information is being processed properly is just as important.

So the next time you link an article, do the world a favor and quote some relevant portion.  Saves quite a bit of time and frustration.

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