Robert_Charlton - 12:18 am on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)
As ThisIsOli suggests, there are direct and indirect ways of attracting links. Historically, "link bait" might be anything from a useful tool or entertaining article intended to build online recommendations, to any kind of article that attracts online attention.
IMO, the use of valuable and engaging "bait" will in the long run produce greater and longer lasting benefits than the use of controversy. Google has become better at sentiment analysis and at parsing social comments, and creating negative online comments, eg, to attract links can now be a dangerous technique.
A little over a year ago, The New York Times published an article about a merchant who used extreme link bait techniques... extreme to the point of being abusive... which eventually backfired....
Google Acts to Demote Distasteful Web Sellers
The New York Times - Technology
December 1, 2010
Mr. Borker claimed that he purposely shouted at and frightened some of the customers at DecorMyEyes.com because the online complaints actually worked in his favor in Google search results.
In essence, he claimed, Google’s search engine is unable to tell the difference between positive posts and withering online critiques. Therefore, the more complaints posted about Mr. Borker’s site, the more likely customers would be to find his store ranked high on a Google search, which yielded him more revenue.
Google's official reaction and announcement of corrective measures is instructive about why Google prefers algorithmic solutions...
Being bad to your customers is bad for business
Official Google Blog
We were horrified to read about Ms. Rodriguez’s dreadful experience.... Instead [of simply blocking him] ...we developed an algorithmic solution which detects the merchant from the Times article along with hundreds of other merchants that, in our opinion, provide an extremely poor user experience....
Both articles are worth reading. They're about 14 months old now... pre Panda. The Google Blog article suggests a few of the many different ways the effects of links were then being modified by offsite and onsite factors. Panda undoubtedly will extend the number of factors involved.
In this mix, I feel, the type of bait you use is likely to matter.