I do it, you do it—some websites build their entire online marketing strategy around it, some just do it absentmindedly—but everyone at sometime or another has linked to their own site first before linking to the link everyone is actually interested in.
In most cases, it’s grown out of the trend for using a personal blog as a glorified bookmarking site. Nothing wrong with that, I don’t think (but I’d have to say that considering 60% of the content on this site). It gives a sense that everyone in your group of personal (real world) friends are following similar stories and trends, without it feeling forced and too much like something from a bad American teenager straight to DVD high school musical sing-along morality play, as-per the FaceBook concept of friendship, which basically boils the whole complex social nuances of spending time with like minded individuals down into whether or not someone likes the same shade of blue as you do.
But in the case of so-called pro blogs like Gizmodo and Mashable, link bait is beyond damn annoying and just out and out ignorant.
It works like this: sk8ordude22 submits a link to reddit and digg and gets all his 1337 buddies to game the voting system so he can out-do MrBabyMan and earn major kudos among his BeBo homies at the same time as directing hundreds of innocently mislead fnooks, who use these sites on the illusion that they’re democratic, to a slow loading, clique site with hard to find links to the actual source story, buried among way more prominent links to other areas of the same site—sometimes links to the same story on a different page of the same site—except written by a different blogger. Uggghh!!!
The trouble with all of these a-list sites is that no-one does anything which would force them to change, by refusing to patronise them, because everyone in “the bay area” knows someone, somewhere who once did an interview podcast with the second cousin of the brother-in-law of the CEO of Revision3 and can’t say anything bad about them in case Veronica Belmont stops following them on Twitter.
Solution A: Google things you are interested in for yourself and if there’s nothing new going on, switch off the computer and go play with a puppy, or something.
Solution B: A social bookmarking site that allows anonymous submissions and only ‘votes up’ the story link if more than one person submits that same link. That way, only stories which genuinely link to something lots of different people, from lots of different geographical locations (based upon some simply IP address monitoring software) can make it to the front page and therefore give a true reflection of the stories people are genuinely interested in.
I should probably start that site myself, come to think of it. Anyone know any good programmers?