Now, if those "linkbaiting" are in fact doing it to deceive, then that is the reputation "linkbaiting" will get.
I agree with this statement - linkbaiting currently is only really talked about inside the industry - how we as an industry perform it and talk about it in the public sphere (at the big blogs, at conferences, in workshops, etc.) will determine how it becomes perceived. It's the same with services like "keyword research" which has a totally positive reputation and "link building" which has a bit of a mixed reputation and "ip delivery" which, though it has its white hat uses, is often seen as entirely manipulative and black hat.
But in this case, like the others, "bait" means something intended to lure, deceive, and trap.
Qwerty, I respect you a lot, so I'll try not to take offense. What about our linkbait tactics do you believe is "deceptive" or a "trap"?
My belief is the complete opposite - that linkbaiting is in fact the most honest and natural way of promotion - you build something targeted to what an audience would want, and if they like it, enjoy it and want to share it with others, they link to it. There's no deception or trickery involved, unless you believe that the capitalist system of serving a market is inherently based on deception.
The difference here is that as far as I know, you came up with this name, Rand.
I believe it was in popular use before I started applying it. Nick W, formerly of Threadwatch, now of Performancing, probably deserves the initial credit.
As for the proper usage - link baiting vs. linkbaiting, I think it would be the former, though I use them interchangeably.
Bait has a victim. If it doesn't, it has failed to fulfill its purpose.
I think calling the people who choose to link to content "victims" is totally inaccurate. Link building via email requests or directories is much less a vote of confidence then linkbait...
I still vote for "Link Appeal."
Link appeal is a great term, but I use it as a totally separate descriptive. To me, link appeal refers to attributes like the usability, user experience, design, targeting, and niche of the content/site. It describes how "linkable" folks in a sector might find the site/page and not an active effort to create targeted content that will gain links from a community.
Frankly, while I don't like the name, what bugs me more is the idea this is a new concept or one that is the next link coming. It isn't and it's not. It just a common promotional tactic with a new 'unprofessional' name.
I think that Debra's right - people have been doing this for some time now. The problem was that it didn't have a common lingo in the SEO/M world or a lot of buzz referring to it. The growth of super-powered blogs and sites and the ability of those sources to create a shockwave of links to the pages they point to is a newer trend, though, and one which linkbait takes advantage of.
As qwerty suggested the term “Viral Link Development” works for me. Or “Viral Link Marketing” or “Viral Link Building”
Again, I feel like viral link development has much in common with linkbaiting, but it isn't exactly the same thing. With viral, your goal is to reach an audience via passage at more of an underground level - through email, or sharing at work or writing in forums, etc. Though it could also reach places like del.icio.us/popular or Boing Boing or Wired News, those are not the focus.
Linkbait (and this is just how I use it, not neccessarily a common definition), is really meant to hit blogs and other websites that can create the ripple effect of one link turning into hundreds or thousands of links as bloggers, writers, editors, journalists, etc. find it and re-post it for their audiences.