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New York Times as Web Citizen: Getting Better?

When i wrote “Greedy Bastards at The New York Times“, I was disappointed that newspapers, not just The New York Times, were publishing human interest and lifestyle articles about innovative people but denying them back links. When you agree to be interviewed by the newspaper, a reporter comes over to sit and question you, and then subjectively judges you via the editorial reporting process. It is the reporter’s view, and not necessarily the picture you paint, which gets published for all to see. You don’t get to review their work before it gets published. You have to trust they will print a good story, and not slant it this way or that. And if they take photos, you again have no say in which one gets printed. And the reward for providing the newspaper with this free access to your unique and interesting story and details? Public exposure.

And that’s why we deserve a backlink. If the newspaper introduces us to thousands of people, it should link to our website so the interested ones can learn more (and possibly folow up with us directly). That’s the barter - I give you access to a story, and you pass along my contact info. The New York Times wasn’t doing that…but now it is?

Today’s piece on Scrabulous links out to Scrabulous.com as well as the sister site BingoBinge.com, from a story of how the owners of Scrabble the boardgame are trying to figure out what to do with the developers who have popularized Scrabble online behind a non-Mattel and non-Hasbro trademark, without permission. It’s a good story, and it seems unwise to think there can be any other outcome than the Scrabble people taking over Scrabulous or Scrabulous dropping out and referring players to some official online Scrabble site somewhere. It makes great sense for Hasbro and Mattel to buy scrabulous.com domain, but that would set such a bad precedent… rewarding the guys who hijacked the trademarked game, just because they did a great job of promoting it. Not sure how that could work.

I imagine there will need to be some big high-profile lawsuit on a very technical issue, to avoid a public revolt, followed by a secret undisclosed generous settlement that bascially says “hey guys, we couldn’t have bought such great PR and marketing, so thanks alot“. Whatever the outcome, it’s an interesting story and HEY LOOK!, the New York Times is linking out without any nofollow stuff, in-contxt and on-topic, so the intreested reader can check it out (and play scrabble online if they desire). Awesome.

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