Back when the Web was young, everyone had a links page, and they were a great way to navigate the Web. With fewer sites and no search engines or Web indexes, most sites maintained pages of links to other, related pages. The best way to find good sites was to start at a page you knew or had heard about and navigate successive links pages to find what you wanted.
Today the Web is comprised of over a billion individual pages. As the Web has grown, individually-maintained links pages have given way to more sophisticated services. Search engines are able to index the Internet far faster than any human, and present users with lists of pertinent Web pages in seconds. Meta-search engines such as Ask Jeeves give the user the ability to obtain search results from several search engines at once. Portals and “vortals” serve as targeted gateways to sites dealing with specific topics. And in an updated twist on links pages, sites like About.com and AOL have organized communities that sift the Internet, ferreting out the best sites for their focus area.
Amongst such well-organized competition, one has to ask whether individual links pages make any sense anymore. If you want your links page to be valuable, you need to spend a lot of time finding the best sites on the Internet, evaluating new ones that might be added. You also need to make sure that the sites already on the list are regularly updated and haven’t moved, disappeared, or been abandoned. Links pages can still be useful ways to navigate the Internet (as the success of About.com demonstrates), but in order to be valuable to Web surfers they also require a lot of attention and maintenance. And even then, your page may just duplicate information that users can find more easily elsewhere.
At DargonZine, we’ve maintained a links page for several years. It has always received only light use, and we haven’t given it the attention needed to keep it up-to-date. We had links to a handful of great sites in four categories: electronic magazines, writing, fantasy and fandom, and medieval studies. However, we found that others did a better job of indexing those topics, and that we wanted to spend our energy on writing stories, not indexing the Internet. So when we looked at our links page, we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t highly valued by our readers, and wasn’t serving our organizational goal of helping aspiring writers improve.
The following services will help you find sites of interest far more effectively than our old links page did. For search engines, Yahoo!, Alta Vista, and Google are all excellent, and for sites where guides compile the best links for specific communities, we suggest About.com (which used to be known as the Mining Company).
We hope you understand the reasoning behind the dismantling of our links page. And we hope that you will agree with us that neither our readers nor our writers come to the DargonZine site looking for links; they come looking for fiction, and we can provide plenty of that!
This issue is a great example of the fiction that brings people to our site. It contains another new story from JD Kenyon, who debuted in our previous issue, as well as the beginning of the fourth block of stories in Dafydd’s epic “Talisman” series. It also features the conclusion of the “Friendships of Stone” series begun by Mark Murray back in September 1997.
This issue also marks the beginning of our sixteenth year on the Internet. Refer to the Editorial in DargonZine 12-12 for a retrospective of how we got here and where we plan to go in our sixteenth year and beyond.
But our immediate future holds another great issue featuring the continuation of “Talisman Three” as well as stories from two brand new writers. Look for those stories in DargonZine 13-2, which will follow this issue by just a couple weeks.