Sunday, January 09, 2005

Bloggy Ponderings: Today's Topic - Blogrolls

I hopped over to Stones Cry Out this morning, and found out that Joe from Evangelical Outpost had organized his previous posts about blogging into a kind of table-of-contents thingy. Highly recommended reading.

Within there, I noticed Joe's post Three Essential Elements of Blog Design. The section about blogrolling snowballed with some other thoughts I had been having this morning, and I wanted to share them.

First a qualifier. All this blogger talk about "how to blog" can be offputting for some, and that's fine. I tend to treat it the same way I would any other hobby. I like gardening, and like to read other's opinions about the best ways to do it, even if I may choose to do it differently. Same with cooking. And same with blogging. It's a hobby. I enjoy it. I like to talk about it. Pretty simple. Take that for what it's worth.

Joe makes the point that you shouldn't have just one blogroll, you should have several, and I tend to agree. I like to see the different categories on the blogs I visit. One of the "essential" categories Joe lists is what he calls the "primary blogroll."

"The first blogroll you should have is a list of blogs you read often. This lets these blogs know that you are a frequent reader and part of their “social network.” It also tells your readers a lot about you."
I very much agree with this. Other than the "Blogs for Bush" blogroll (which would be considered an "alliance"blogroll using Joe's terms), this is the idea behind my own blogroll.

I use my blogroll every day. These are the blogs I visit more than any others. If your blog is on my blogroll, I'm one of your blog's regular readers. I don't think everyone must do the same, but I do think this ads a lot more value to a blogroll, making each spot on a blogroll a personal endorsement.

However, because my blogroll is something I use every day, I also can't allow the size to grow unmanagable. I have a handful of blogs I'd like to add, but as my blogroll strains against my personal capacity to use, the standard for getting added rises (and a corellary pressure to drop others increases).

All of this has me thinking about some of the concepts from Hugh Hewitt's book. What I just described above should be of huge interest to activists, companies, and marketers who need to leverage the blogosphere for their own purposes. Blogrolls which are truly used by the blogger who lists them have a higher value than those that are not. The reason is simple. If you make it on that blogroll, you don't just get the sporadic traffic of that blog's readers. You get a regular reader who has a much higher chance to disseminate the information you put on your own blog.

Blogrolls (and mine could use improvement here) which can accurately state why a certain blog is listed (example: I read these every day; friends of mine; I think these are important causes; etc.) have higher value still - especially to the extent they can get their own readers interested in becoming regular readers of the listed blog.

This kind of blogrolling would influence the blogging behavior of those competing for space on a particular blogroll. For example, assume you had a blog about education. You notice that Big Blogger A's blogroll had a category for education blogs, but they all seemed to focus on homeschooling. Assume homeschooling is one of many education topics you like to cover. Because you want to get on Big Blogger A's blogroll, you're more likely to post more frequently about homeschooling and link to other homeschooling information than otherwise.

The desire to attract the attention of "Big Blogger A," in hopes of getting a specific post linked is already known to influence blog behavior. Hugh Hewitt's "Vox Blogoli" symposia (anyone know if there is an archive for these I can link to?) are perhaps the purest illustration of this, but on a smaller scale this goes on every day. But a one time link is small potatoes compared to a spot on the kind of blogroll I'm speaking about.

The pure capitalists among us will be tempted to parlay that into selling blogroll spaces. But I would suggest this would be a mistake. If a link becomes merely a paid adverstisement, it is no longer very believable as a personal endorsement. Since the blogosphere is based on trust, the value of purchased blogroll spots would be sorry competition for the other kind.

It's possible I'm late to the party on this, and others already find this obvious. But I haven't seen the point made anywhere, so I thought I'd share it.

1 Comments:

Blogger PolicyGuy said...

Thanks for the link to Joe's comments. I like the idea of separating the blog roll into categories, though (without a knowledge of Latin), his categories don't help me much.

I have tried to give a words about each blog / site on my list, to give some reason why it is there. This is something I have yet to do with the "Friends, Neighbors, and Linkers" section.

An important reason for me to put something on the list is that I use it for personal or professional reasons. In other words, even if I may not think that a site is of interest to anyone, I may put up a link to it if it's something of interest to me.

10:39 AM  

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