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Reciprocal Linking


Domain: @0
Commit: 9

Status: head
Author: Ender
Date: 19 July 2021, 7:39 (UTC)

is an Idealogs policy regarding which types of links are incentivized in the suniesary.

Policy [edit]

When an internal link from article A to article B is created, the link can be in one of two states:

  • the link is reciprocal, meaning there also exists an internal link from B to A , or
  • the link is asymmetrical, meaning there does not exist an internal link from B to A.

An article’s search visibility is increased by the number of reciprocal links it contains, and decreased by the number of asymmetrical links it contains.

Motivation [edit]

A core feature of wiki software is the ability to link internally between articles. In a sunesiary, a link to a subject looks like this and a link to a WSQ looks like a citation [Fx4]. When editing an article (see the docs), this would be written as:

Internal links are the primary currency of a wiki: the more links an individual article has, the more value it brings to the wiki overalllinks make articles more visible internally to active users and externally to search engines

. Generally speaking, the more internal links the better. Why, then, do we apply a policy of reciprocal linking that decreases the quantity of links in the sunesiary?

The answer lies in the nature of what a sunesiary is: a catalog of writings, statements, and questions (WSQs). In a traditional wiki that catalogs only subjects, each article contains unique content that is specified by the article’s title. This sets a challenging but feasible limit to the number of articles that the wiki can containe.g. search online for “Size of Wikipedia”

. In a sunesiary, however, this is not the case:

  • Writings: There are an overwhelming number of writings published every day on popular subjects and of varying quality. Many of them have similar titles and say more-or-less the same thing. It would be impossible (and meaningless) to try to catalog and analyze each every single one.

  • Statements: This category is also terrifyingly broad. Nearly every sentence on this page is a statement, but few if any are worth devoting an entire article to. Further, for the tiny percentage of statements that are worth cataloging, there are seemingly an infinite number of modifications you can make via rephrasing, broadening, narrowing, etc. to create sentences that appear unique but say the same thing.

  • Questions: The same logic applies to questions: there are lots of them, most are inappropriate for a compendium of information, and the ones that do have an infinite number of variations.

In short, a website that catalogs every WSQ known to man is meaningless: the set of WSQs is impossibly large and individual elements frequently overlap each other. Moreover, it is easy to foresee scenarios in which good and bad actors alike overwhelm the site with too many WSQs, or bias it towards certain ones that they deem favorable. This is an existential crisis for a platform that seeks to create a useful body of information, and in particular one run entirely by volunteers. A new notion of uniqueness is required to keep the platform’s size manageable and bias its content towards interesting and meaningful information.

Solution [edit]

Reciprocal linking is how a sunesiary prevents redundancies and highlights original, meaningful content. The theory is that if two articles in the wiki represent the same idea–e.g. two transfinite articles cataloging two distinct writings which make the same set of claims–then they will attempt to link internally to the same set of articles. Since those articles being linked are incentivized to reciprocate, and since it would be redundant to link to two articles that say the exact same thing, there is a choice to be made over which link to reciprocate and which to remove. The community is forced to select the higher quality article of the two. Measures of quality (in no particular order) include:

  • Link Count. This is self-reinforcing. The more linked-to an article is the higher its quality, and the higher its quality the more other articles should link to it.
  • Clarity and Brevity. Preference should be given to the WSQ that most clearly expresses the idea in the fewest possible words.
  • Publication Date. This applies only to writings. Preference should be given to writings that were published first.

By increasing the standard for link creation, we necessarily decrease the number of links in the wiki, and thus place an artificial limit on the number of visible articles on the site. As the examples below indicate, this will also increase the value of links that do meet this higher standard, and ultimately the overall value of the site itself.

Examples [edit]

Example 1

Consider two articles \(A\) and \(B\) which represent the same idea and which both link to article \(C\). \(C\) wants to reciprocate, but as it would be redundant to link to both it chooses \(A\) over \(B\). The link between \(A\) and \(C\) is reciprocated, and the link between \(B\) and \(C\) is removed; the end result is that \(A\)’s visibility on the site rises while \(B\) begins to fade, relatively speaking.

Example 2

The article entitled Cheese on Wikipedia contains a link to the article entitled Lactoseas of October 1st, 2019

. Likewise, Lactose links to Cheese. Idealogs proposes that this says something meaningful about the relationship about cheese and lactose; that is, understanding one helps you understand the other, and vice versa. This type of link is allowed under the policy.

On the other hand, Cheese links to many other articles–e.g. Protein, New York, Musical theatre, The Odyssey, etc.–that do not reciprocate. Notice that these are topics for which an understanding of cheese is not required.

Example 3

Researchers from a major university publish article \(A\) which provides definitive proof for the claim that “cheese is the yummiest”. Because this is such a groundbreaking discovery, it receives widespread news coverage in news articles \(B\), \(C\), \(D\), and \(E\). All five articles (the original plus the four summaries) are cataloged on this site, and all link to “Cheese is the yummiest.”, a separate article that catalogs the statement itself. It does not make sense for “Cheese is the yummiest.” to link to all five writings, however, as this would be redundant; instead, the community has to choose the one that provides the most value to the topic as a whole, which in this case is \(A\), the original. Furthermore, when people later search for “cheese” on the front page, it is this original study that shows up instead of the derivative works that do not say anything new about the subject.

In this way, Idealogs encourages and highlights original works whereas it discourages and relegates derivate works, summaries, repetitions, etc.