Must Love Links

My latest piece for the Toronto chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators discusses hyperlinking as it relates to ethics in professional communications as well as ensuring the best possible experience for the reader.

This particular topic came to my attention when I noticed that far too many press releases, blog posts, and official statements are reluctant to link to outside or additional sources. In many cases, this leaves certain claims unsubstantiated and also leaves the reader without context. Linking is a vital tool, I argue, in providing a richer experience for the reader as well as ensuring that your claims are well supported.

Below is an excerpt. You can read the entire piece here.

Hyperlinking is far from trivial. As a reader, I’ve come across far too many press releases and blog posts that make claims without backing them up and point to broader issues without providing context.

The academic in me, who both as a student and teacher preached and was preached to about “showing your work,” finds this frustrating. In carrying out online communications, the practice of hyperlinking is imperative as both an ethical matter and for ensuring a richer experience for readers.

Where blogging and press releases are concerned, different types of organizations are attempting to persuade readers of something, perhaps to donate, to buy, to come on board a certain campaign, or simply to agree with a particular narrative. Communicators working on behalf of politicians do this constantly. Similarly, non-profits must convince the public that their cause is worth supporting.

Leave a comment


  1. When then does the infinite loop of wanting the ‘source of the source of the source…’ end? Can arguments not come from first principles? Then again, my own argument right now assumes those first principles to exist in the first place. Assuming they do exist, could we not just reach those first principles without third-party sources because of their innate ‘primeness’ or must we use ‘appeal to other person’s opinion’?

    • I’m not sure what you mean. I suppose there are always original sources for arguments and that we might get them from secondary sources. The only point I’m trying to make in this piece is that we ought to source our information, wherever it came from, just for the sake of fairness to other authors and for supporting our own claims.

      • I meant could one write without needing to cite other people and convince people from simply reasoning?

      • Hmmm…now that’s something I don’t know. I think that question’s on a much higher level than what I’m discussing here. I think in the event that we do take information from others, or use their work to support our own, we should acknowledge that.

  2. Oh in that case then I support that, especially when sources provide Creative Commons licenses. On the so-called higher level, I tried to introduce the notion of writing without appeal to popularity: could we simply make an argument without referring to the work of other people, without what some people would call “name dropping”?

    • Well, certainly some have tried. I think Orwell does this in many of his essays. John Locke and Rene Descartes I think do this as well in their writings on metaphysics. It’s probably less the case now, as most scholarship is just commentary on what others wrote as opposed to original philosophy. So it has been attempted, whether or not they succeeded in convincing others of anything is another question entirely.


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