From Marco Arment:
Forcing links to open in new windows has two main purposes:
I believe the former is justifiable, the latter isn’t, and reading a news or blog article does not qualify as an undisturbable session for most people.
- To avoid disturbing an important session in progress for a temporary digression, such as FAQ/documentation links in the sidebar when you’re doing online banking.
- To “keep people on your site”, ensuring that even when visitors navigate away, your tab is never closed and the user is forced to interact with it again later. Maybe they’ll let the ads refresh a few more times or click another story!
I usually see
target="_blank" used as a way to trick users into staying on a site. You should never be tricking your users into doing anything. Respect their wishes to go elsewhere. If they like your site, they can always hit the back button.