Planet13 - 2:55 pm on May 18, 2011 (gmt 0)
Some people fixed the links (I saw when I checked back) and didn't even bother to say thanks.
I have the links I want to acquire listed in a database (you can use a spreadsheet if you want). I put in a field for next contact date. Usually set it ten days in the future from the date I originally contacted them with the link request.
If they haven't changed their broken links - or if they have and haven't added a link to my site - I give them a gentle reminder. And I set a future contact date for another week in the future.
Also, I don't tell them ALL the broken links on their page in the first email request, specifically so I will have a reason to follow up with them in the future. I might also take the time to ask them to review a page on my site and see if it has any inaccuracies or if they have any suggestions for it.
Some sites ARE abandoned. I have sent a couple of emails saying that I could take over and help maintain there site if they would like - if that site has a lot of backlinks coming into it or has a great domain name. Haven't heard back yet, so we will see how that goes. Again, will follow up down the road.
On a side note, the people who link out in my niche are pretty concerned about quality and accuracy. My content isn't great, but it is above average. And it is pretty easy to read.
So I point out how crappy pages from ehow are polluting the SERPs, and how urgent it is for sites like theirs to continue to help hard working people promote well written content.
The key is to show that you and they have a common interest; they built their links page in the first place because they wanted to help spread the word about quality content. So as long as you can mesh in with that, I think you are going to have a better chance of getting the link.
Robert Cialdini, who is one of the preeminent authors in the US on the psychology of influence, says that research shows that if you have a "because" with your request you are significantly more likely to get a favorable response then without one.
So don't just ask them to link to your page. Please give them a reason - preferably one they can identify with.