I'm thinking of implementing a house rule that gives out the 4VP chip for connecting up a link in the conspiracy rather than for 5-in-a-row. Consider it a guaranteed VP bonus for the link, as the link itself is variable and may not give you any bonus (i.e, you connect up the favour bonuses but then some a-hole wipes out all your favours on the last turn - at least you still got the 4VPs for the link).
That's actually a decent idea, and makes much more sense to me too.
After all, making a row or column of 5 is totally irrelevant unless they actually connect something up. That said, it does make those Haas or Jinteki puzzle pieces considerably more powerful.