I love Twitter. This statement comes as no shock to people who know me or who follow me on the social network (@southstands303). I monitor Twitter for several hours every day and it’s my go-to resource for keeping up on sports, fantasy updates and local and national news. It is by far the most useful of the social networking sites. I have noticed a bothersome trend, however. Some of my favorite journalists are sharing links on Twitter – not to their writings – not to the web sites of their magazines, newspapers and blogs – but to another social networking site called ‘Sulia’.
What is Sulia? Well, according to the site’s “about” section it is “a subject-based social network that connects you to the top social sources on subjects you care about.” That would be peachy, I suppose, if I were bouncing around Sulia looking for information about topics that interest me. But I use Twitter for that, so I get perturbed with writers who offer links to abridged versions of their work on Sulia – which conclude with yet another link to the original source. Why can’t these scribes save me couple of clicks and just take me to their work?
Beat writers at the Denver Post are notorious for using Sulia links. They don’t all do it – Troy Renck who covers the Rockies is a holdout – but enough do that it’s becoming a scourge on Twitter. Sulia is a pay-per-click site, so writers like Mike Klis and Adrian Dater are earning a stipend for driving traffic to the site, possibly even for the Post it’s self. They do so, however, to the detriment of their own readers and to their own advertisers.
The internet is, by its very nature, a fast-paced place and people do not generally have the patience to be directed and then re-directed to the information they’ve been promised via a link on Twitter. If somebody says “click to read my article” the link should not lead to a teaser. The likelihood that a reader will continue beyond that is very slim.
If, say, American Furniture Warehouse, has purchased advertising on Denver Post dot com, should the company not expect to have web traffic driven toward that advertising rather that to Sulia?
We all understand that the newspaper industry must turn over every stone in its pursuit to stay financially solid. It’s tough to fault anybody in that industry for looking for new ways to turn a dollar, but Sulia is actually taking web traffic away. It seems counter-intuitive that the papers would encourage their writers to use the links rather that sending readers directly to their own dot coms.
Aside from shifting clicks away from advertisers, Sulia links are downright annoying to consumers. Relatively few people have Sulia accounts. Most arrive there only because they are driven there by a link – one that is likely to include yet another link. To use Sulia is basically to say “screw you, reader. If you want to enjoy my article you have to play by my rules.” Well, I have made up my mind never to follow a Sulia link again. I would encourage you to do the same.