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SmallBusiness.com:Link policy

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External links on a SmallBusiness.com entry can be helpful to the reader, but they should be limited only to the finest quality, most relevant, most timely and most neutral source on the interent. This policy presents an overview of what is, and is not, an appropriate external link.

Citations and footnotes

External links appear at the bottom of a SmallBusiness.com entry. (The exception is SmallBusiness.com Directories which are list of links. We also encourage writers to add citations or footnotes to their entries, so that the reliability and source of any facts can be judged by the reader. Such footnotes should link to reliable sources through reference tagging that result in a list of entry sources at the end of the entry under the heading Reference.

Links that appear in such references or footnotes should adhere to the external link policy in terms of neutrality, authority, relevance and timliness.

Links to external website (External links)

SmallBusiness.com articles may include links to web pages outside SmallBusiness.com, but they should not normally be used in the body of an article. (see: [[#Citations and footnotes|above) All external links must conform to certain formatting restrictions. Some acceptable links include those that contain further research that is accurate and on-topic, information that could not be added to the article for reasons such as copyright or amount of detail, or other meaningful, relevant content that is not suitable for inclusion in an article for reasons unrelated to its accuracy.

Some external links are welcome (see "What should be linked", below), but it is NOT SmallBusiness.com's purpose to include a comprehensive list of external links related to each topic. No page should be linked from a SmallBusiness.com article unless its inclusion is justifiable according to this guideline and common sense. The burden of providing this justification is on the person who wants to include an external link.

Important points to remember

  • External links should not normally be used in the body of an article. Instead, include appropriate external links in an "External links" section at the end of the article, and in the appropriate location within an infobox, if applicable.
  • Links in the "External links" section should be kept to a minimum. A lack of external links or a small number of external links is not a reason to add external links.

Restrictions on linking

For policy or technical reasons, contributors are restricted from linking to the following, without exception:

  • Material that violates the copyrights of others should no be linked to. Linking to websites that display copyrighted works is acceptable as long as the website has licensed the work. Knowingly directing others to material that violates copyright may be considered contributory copyright infringement. If you know that an external website is carrying a work in violation of the creator's copyright, do not link to that copy of the work. Linking to a page that illegally distributes someone else's work sheds a bad light on SmallBusiness.com and its editors. This is particularly relevant when linking to sites such as YouTube, where due care should be taken to avoid linking to material that violates its creator's copyright.

What to link

There are several things that should be considered when adding an external link.

  • Is the site content accessible to the reader?
  • Is the site content proper in the context of the article (useful, tasteful, informative, factual, etc.)?
  • Is the link functional and likely to remain functional?

Each link should be considered on its merits, using the following guidelines. As the number of external links in an article grows longer, assessment should become stricter. When in doubt about the appropriateness of adding new links, make a suggestion on the article's talkpage and discuss with other editors.

What should be linked

  • SmallBusiness.com articles about any organization, person, website, or other entity should link to the subject's official site, if any.
  • An article about a book, a musical score, or some other media should link to a site hosting a copy of the work, unless an entry about the book can be found on SmallBusiness.com. If there is such an entry, the link should be to it.
  • Sites that contain neutral and accurate material that cannot be integrated into the SmallBusiness.com article due to copyright issues, amount of detail (such as professional athlete statistics, movie or television credits, interview transcripts, or online textbooks) or other reasons.

Links to be considered

  • Very large pages should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Unusually large pages should be annotated as such.
  • A well-chosen link to a directory of websites or organizations. Long lists of links are not acceptable. The Open Directory Project is often a neutral candidate, and may be added.

Links normally to be avoided

Except for a link to an official page of the entry's subject, one should avoid:

  • Any site that does not provide a unique resource
  • Any site that misleads the reader by use of factually inaccurate material or unverifiable research, except to a limited extent in articles about the viewpoints which such sites are presenting.
  • Links mainly intended to promote a website.
  • Links to web pages that primarily exist to sell products or services, or to web pages with objectionable amounts of advertising.
  • Links to sites that require payment or registration to view the relevant content, unless the site itself is the subject of the article.
  • Direct links to documents that require external applications or plugins (such as Flash or Java) to view the content, unless the article is about such file formats.
  • Links to any search results pages, such as links to individual website searches.
  • Sites that are only indirectly related to the article's subject: the link should be directly related to the subject of the article.
  • Lists of links to manufacturers, suppliers or customers.
  • Links that are not reliably functional, or likely to continue being functional. For example, links to temporary internet content, where the link is unlikely to remain operable for a useful amount of time.
  • Affiliate marketing, tracking or referral links i.e. Links that contain information about who is to be credited for readers that follow the link. If the source itself is helpful, use a neutral link without the tracking information.

Non-English-language content

Links to English-language content are strongly preferred in the English-language SmallBusiness.com. It may be appropriate to have a link to a non-English-language site, such as when an official site is unavailable in English; or when the link is to the subject's text in its original language; or when the site contains visual aids such as maps, diagrams, or tables—per the guideline on non-English-language sites.

When linking to a site in a non-English language under the exceptions above, label the link with a language icon, available for most languages, using two-letter language codes: for example, {{es icon}}, {{fr icon}}, etc. Place the language label after the link (i.e. [http://de.SmallBusiness.com.org/ German SmallBusiness.com] {{de icon}}).

Redirection sites

URL redirection sites are not to be used. Examples of these sites include tinyurl.com, tiny.cc and the .tk top level domain. Most of these sites are listed in the m:Spam blacklist because they are frequently abused by link spammers, which means that it is not possible to save a page that contains such a link. Because URL redirection sites are added to the blacklist whenever abuse occurs, you may create problems for future editors by using them. Adding links to web proxies is prohibited for a similar reason. Instead, one should add a link to the original URL.

It is generally preferred to link to the exact destination of a link. For instance, if example.com is an automatic redirect to tripod.com/example, it is better to link to the exact page, even if the webmaster considers the redirect address to be more official.

Rich media

It is acceptable to link to pages rendered in normal HTML or plain text, but this is not always the case with pages using rich media formats (which may be incompatible with many users' settings and browsers). Check that the content type of the linked page is "text/html", "text/plain", or "application/xhtml+xml" (or another XHTML content type) as some pages may instead be rendered solely by platform-dependent plugins. Try to avoid directly linking to any content that requires special software, or an add-on to a browser. It is always preferred to link to a page rendered in normal HTML that contains embedded links to the rich media.

Where a link to rich media is deemed appropriate, either as a direct link or embedded within an HTML page, an explicit indication of the technology needed to access the relevant content must be given, as in the following examples:

Linking to user-submitted video sites

There is no blanket ban on linking to YouTube or other user-submitted video sites, as long as the links abide by the guidelines on this page. Many videos hosted on YouTube or similar sites do not meet the standards for inclusion in External links sections, and copyright is of particular concern. Many YouTube videos of newscasts, shows or other content of interest to SmallBusiness.com visitors are copyright violations. Links should be evaluated for inclusion with due care on a case-by-case basis. Links to online videos should also identify the software necessary for readers to view the content. For example, all links to YouTube videos should, if applicable, indicate that Flash video software or a web browser supporting H.264 is necessary to see the content.

Avoid undue weight on particular points of view

On articles with multiple points of view, the number of links dedicated to one point of view should not overwhelm the number dedicated to other equal points of view, nor give undue weight to minority views. Add comments to these links informing the reader of their point of view. If one point of view dominates informed opinion, that should be represented first. For more information, see SmallBusiness.com:Neutral point of view—in particular, SmallBusiness.com's guidelines on undue weight.

Longevity of links

It is very important to consider whether the link is likely to remain relevant and acceptable to the article in the foreseeable future. For example, it is not useful to link to a homepage that changes often and merely happens to have a relevant picture or article on its front page at the moment.

What can be done with a dead external link

Links to dead URLs in a list of external links are of no use to SmallBusiness.com articles. Such dead links should either be updated or removed.

Note that some dead links are caused by vandalism (for example, a vandal disabling links to products competing with the vandal's favored product): it is worth checking to see if there is a working version of the link in an earlier version of article. Some vandalism of this type is quite subtle.

Hijacked and re-registered sites

Occasionally a site will either be "hijacked" or be re-registered for a different purpose after a registration expires. In either case, while the URL is still valid it points to a page with different or altered content, which can lead to inappropriate content being linked, including in some cases pornography sites.[1] Sites that have been hijacked or changed after reregistration should not be linked; they should be handled in the same manner as dead links.

How to link

  • Link with no text (code and example output): [http://example.com/]
  • Link containing text: [http://example.com/ The RFC-mandated example.com website]

Note: On an external link, all text following a space becomes the text displayed as the link.


See also