Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Nuts and Bolts of Blogrolling

All pics are from the set that document the oldest son's accident in his brother's car. Reparations are underway as this goes to press.

As a person who started out as a commenter on the blogs of others way before I ever started my own, I think a lot about what it means to take part in a conversation between people who aren't even in the same country, much less the same room. I'm in awe of the power of words and the technology that allows such instant gratification. Someone posts a really interesting observation or asks a stimulating that demands your input...and you find yourself putting your own two cents on the table. That's how it started for me, anyway.

Though I can't speak for all people who set up a blog, I think I can safely assume that most of us hope that what we write will elicit a response of some kind. I'm very lucky in that I have several wonderful blogger-readers who are not only good writers in their own right, but who pause during their busy day to say, "I was here". Some of them have even become friends with whom I hope to hoist a few beers this summer. Regardless, I don't comment on the blogs I like because I'm trying to display my "internet manners" acumin or because I feel I have to pay those bloggers back somehow. It's a conversation and I'm just keeping up my end of it. If I come by your site, it's because I want to be there.

But the blogroll...hmmm...that's a whole 'nother animal. I imagine that, if weblogs had existed during Medievel times, whole kingdoms would have been toppled over one king's refusal to blogroll another. For some bloggers, it's a very personal thing to be a regular commenter on someone's site, to have exchanged e-mails with that person and then not wind up on their blogroll...if they have one. It's like being in the 8th grade and checking a very public list to see who made the cheerleading squad and finding out your name isn't on it. For some, it's personal...not business.

It took me awhile to figure out how to list the people I read in my sidebar. Once I began to process of transferring websites from my Bookmarks to my blogroll, I found I had a list of Biblical proportions with regard to length. And that's okay, because I'm all about sharing the love. If you end up on my blogroll, you know I'm going to come by your site at least once in a 48 hour period...and very possibly.... more than once. I list people in my sidebar not just because I think you need to know who I'm reading. I list them because I think they're good enough that you should read them, too.

The list, she is a-changing all the time, though. I had a couple of food blogs down there, but I feel like such a poseur for endorsing something I have so little time to do (Plenty of time to eat, but no time to bake), that I switched most of them back to my Bookmarks. It's nothing personal. Same with a couple of the knitter blogs (although I still list a couple) because I also feel bad about not having knitted anything since I was about seven years old.

Some people I blogroll, even though I'm not doing them any favors. You know how when you read a really good post and you go to comment, only to find that you'll be commenter # 165? Tha's when you know they're doing fairly well without your help. And Dooce? Well, she gets enough hits in one day that the sheer volume alone could cause a computer meltdown, should she ever decide to allow comments again. Plus her blog ads pay for her house/car/dog food for Chuck and maybe even this trip to Amsterdam she's taking right now. Nice work if you can get it. I list her because...well...she was the first blog I ever read and you always remember your first time. Right?

New ones will show up and others will go away. Those that go away will do so because we've failed to establish a mutual admiration society between the two of us. Another blogger aptly refers to this as the "circle jerk". Yeah...that, too.

Bottom line: I read what I like and I like what I read. My question for you is not WHY DO YOU BLOG (because I asked that a long time ago), but WHY DO YOU BLOGROLL? What does the blogroll mean to you?


Blogger Plain Jane said...

I list a few blogs on my site because it was easier for me to keep track of the ones I regularly visited and in hopes of sharing blogs with others that I thought were particularly fun, interesting, worth reading, etc.

Unfortunately I'm very bad at keeping it updated since I switched over to using RSS feeds via NetNewsWire! I think my blog list is probably VERY outdated by now... I suppose I should add that to my list of things to do...

6:33 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I really can't tell what damage was done to the car.

I blog because I want to. I enjoy expressing myself through writing. I enjoy sharing too, and I enjoy the discussion.

For the most part I blogroll what I find interesting and enjoy reading, and I give support to one friend who needs it. I have dropped a couple people who stopped writing about things that interest me. You can tell when people lose that drive. Also, I do not have to blogroll everyone. I can simply go to your blogroll, and go down the list!

6:49 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Interesting. I did not notice the last photo. I focused on the previous photos that I could not understand.

6:51 PM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

Bummer about the car. I guess the boys were okay though??

I blogroll people I feel committed to and that means I have to have gotten to know them, like their writing and read them regularly.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous paige said...

I blog because I've always loved to write, and I imagine that by writing almost every day I keep my brain alive. I originally started a blog because I was a stay at home mom and went hours without adult conversation. Someone said I should start writing, and it stuck. I'm totally addicted now.

Originally my blogroll was all the best blogs I came across. Now I'd like to think it's more a reflection of the people I actually like to read. I don't list people just because they're 'blogroll must-haves' or whatever, but if they happen to be, great.

And I'm like you in the respect that my blogroll changes frequently. If I'm going through it and realize I haven't really connected with or had anything constructive to add to someone's work I usually take them off. Not a personal thing, I just don't want the list too long and out of control just out of a sense of obligation.

I don't take the blogroll personally, though I'd be a liar if I said it wasn't nice to see my name on someone else's site. It's not just business, it's a reflection of that person's interests, and to be included in that is an awesome feeling. That being said, for a lot of people it's not really a reflection of their interests, it's a who's who or an advertisement or whatever and things get muddled.

Geez I could write a whole post about this. I'll stop now. :)

7:32 PM  
Blogger Melanhead said...

This is a really good question that my friend and I were discussing just a few days ago.

I refer to my blogroll as the circle jerk, and it surfaced as a positive backlash to the discussions lately about those Blogher conventions limited to the "popular" bloggers. I see my blogroll as my convention of people - people who are guarenteed a read from me several times a week during my precious spare time at night after work and after the baby is asleep. I have about 3 "free" hours, and half of that time is devoted to you folks.

8:03 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

Melanhead- Yeah...I couldn't remember where I had read the term as it applied to blogrolls. As for the popular bloggers and the wannabes...I think a blogger get-together with the rest of us would be much more interesting. We're not interested in taking over the world. Just being better observers the people in it.

8:10 PM  
Blogger GraceD said...

Wordgirl, greetings to you.

First, I am grateful to be on your blogroll.

To answer your question, my blogroll serves many functions - as an address book I show off to the World Wide Web, a place where I keep my links because I'm resisting using RSS feeds (I dunno, I'm just a dork), and also to let people know that I read the hip and cool blogs, like the estimable 1/2 of the Sky.

I have one long blogroll for personal blogs. There are no cutesy punctuation marks to signify ~~**favorites**~~. I have a separate link list for political blogs, geek blogs and links to new and old media.

So, like, toally, that's it, dude. Chah.

9:36 PM  
Blogger The Queen Mama said...

Even though I've been blogging for a few months now, I have yet to set up a blogroll. Mostly because I tried how to do it once (a few weeks ago), fell flat on my face, became frustrated and decided I'd make Hubby the Computer Guru try to figure it out. But I haven't gotten around to asking him.

In a way, though, I'm kind of glad it hasn't happened yet. Becuase I share some of the very same thoughts and concerns you posted. I personally don't take offense if I trade comments with a blogger, feel we've built up some rapport, yet don't end up on their blogroll. But I wonder if others might.

Maybe I'm being cowardly at this point. It's easier to not set one up and not risk offending someone down the line than to take the time and effort to build and maintain one.

That's the other stumbling block...time! I barely have time to post and read my favorites as it is. And somehow, that list of favorites keeps expanding.

Those are some of my thoughts, however scattered.

5:39 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Good question.

I blogroll primarily because I like the ease of having my regular fixes listed in one place. However, I also like the boost to my ego that comes from seeing my blog on someone else's blogroll, and I also want to maintain the etiquette on my end. My blogroll is constantly a work in progress.

Sorry about the car.

6:12 AM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

You know, Wordgirl, I was just thinking about this last night.

The blogs that I have listed on my site are the blogs that I read regularly. I put them there not only to show others what blogs I like to read, but because it's easier for me to access them from my own blog than from my Favourites folder. I do, however, have a few blogs in my Favourites folder right now that I'd like to include in my "Blogroll", but I always hesitate because I feel like if I read and comment on someone's blog but don't add them to my list, I am inadvertently offending them. Like someone else mentioned here, I don't want my list to get out of control...but I think that's going to end up happening whether I like it or not. ;)

It's always nice to be linked, but really, I don't take it personally if I'm not. Just knowing that people are reading and commenting on my blog is enough for me, and I have several blogs that I read and comment on but don't have listed. What matters to me is if people are reading my's nice to see that someone likes it enough to link it, but I really don't take it personally if they read but don't link. Make sense? (I've only had one cup of coffee...)

6:13 AM  
Blogger mrtl said...

I blogroll in case Bloglines goes down. I'd hate to try to recreate that list!

6:39 AM  
Blogger The Gradual Gardener said...

I started blogging because I found out an old school friend who moved out of state has one. I kept it up because it's fun, and I feel like I've made friends I don't want to lose.

My blogroll is really a convenience for me. All the sites I visit regularly are on it. In the beginning I often added people to my blogroll before they even knew I visited their sites, because I was so shy about commenting. When I first started this, I felt like such an intruder if I commented on a stranger's blog. It was ok to read, but not to comment...Weird, huh?

I do like it when someone else lists me on their blogroll, because it means they like what I write. I wouldn't want people to list me out of a feeling of obligation, because then I'd never really know who liked my site and who didn't. But, to be honest, I don't notice whether or not people list me much anymore, because I tend to visit everyone from my own blogroll now.

More and more I find myself skipping over the big names on my blogroll so I have more time to visit the people I actually have conversations with. I probably won't actually remove them, though, since I do visit them occasionally and it is a convenience thing.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

I blog as an outlet for all the crazy thoughts and observations I can't possibly express to the people I work with, who think I'm nutty enough as it is. I blogroll all the blogs I visit on a daily basis. Although I need to update it. I delete any that don't at least stop by and visit every once in awhile. It's a two-way street damn it! Ahem.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Like several said, my blogroll is my lazy favorites list. But also I try not to add anyone that I don't visit at least once every couple days.

Like GG said, I don't even have time for the rock stars any more. To be honest, their bigger-than-life lives don't interest me as much as the friends I've made on the B-list anyway.

(And here's where I get catty: I'm tired of pictures of Someone's dog, and when one of the other big ones got all huffy about too much kid-diet advice and closed her comments it pissed me off.)

9:15 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

And I forgot to add, those pictures are beautiful. I'd love to seem them in a sort-of mounted montage.

Did you take them? If so, I'm getting such Coolpix envy right now!

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been perplexed and confused by the whole blogroll and commenting thing since day one. Up until now i list blogs that i like. I always go through my sitemeter visits and check every blog that refers to me and i look at every commenters blog (if they have one). When i like a blog i add it to my blogroll regardless of wether i've ever had any kind of exchange with them. I have noticed over time that people often expect you to reciprocate the commenting and linking thing. I sometimes feel too much of an obligation by people who comment all the time, yet i'm not really interested in their blog. Ugh. This sounds so snobby. What i'm trying to say is that i love comments and people adding me to their blogrolls, but i don't respond well to the peer pressure of it all.

I blogroll because i like you.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous candy said...

What an interesting question.

I list the websites of people I read, and who read me, on my blog I guess as a courtesy. Dooce is of course number one. Same reason as you. But from Dooce I found Mighty Girl, and from there I found Finslippy, and so on and so on, and I guess I think they deserve a hit on my blog as a nod of thanks.

And I blog, because years and years ago I was part of an AOL "Bulletin Board" community (I'm talking 10+ years ago, when AOL was pretty much your only internet choice) and it was such a great experience that I thought maybe it could be recaptured here.

It's close...but not the same. I guess nothing ever is.

11:25 AM  
Blogger jess said...

i blogroll the sites that have made me laught out loud, and ones that have inspired my blog

12:14 PM  
Anonymous jess said...

anonymous above was me, not sure why it went anonymous:)

6:33 PM  
Blogger Ditsy Chick said...

I have struggled with this lately. I blogroll to keep track of my favorites. I have not added any new regulars lately, because I do not have any time to get to them regularly. I feel so guilty about this.

I like others to see my Blogroll, because they are fun and interesting to read. I always smile, when I see someone comment on a site they reached from my blog.

Yes, like GG and Mignon and you, I started skipping over the blogs that are too big and I don't really "know" the person who is writing them. I enjoy the conversation as well.

9:20 PM  
Blogger jess said...

My blogroll is so outdated it's not even funny. I still read a lot of them, but there are many more that I read and just haven't added to the list yet. I found a lot of my favorite blogs through other people's blogrolls, especially when I started reading. But I HATE the popularity aspect of it, like you said. I'd hate to offend someone.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Peggy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Peggy said...

(Sorry, didn't read the assignment. It's early, dammit.) Y'gotta like the juxtaposition of car wreck photos and the blogrolling discussion. Hope everyone's OK.

I blogroll for my own convenience -- I like having my favorite blogs easily accessible. And I like seeing what other people have on their blogrolls. Not only is it like peeking at their bookshelves or CD collection, but I almost always come across blogs I want to check out.

4:21 AM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

I list blogs that I read regularly or that I think the people who read me might like to check out.

I am never offended if I don't make someone's blogroll.

When someone new comments on my site, I always check out their blog at least once. If I start reading it regularly, I'll add it next time I update my blogroll. Time is my big constraint, not interest!

I sometimes remove blogs from my blogroll if they're not updated fairly frequently simply because I used my blog roll to guide my own reading and don't like to take time to check regularly at sites that aren't updated often. If it falls off my blog roll, it usually still stays on my bookmarks and I'll check it out from time to time.

6:45 AM  
Anonymous mooalex said...

Like others, my blogroll is comprised of who I read on a regular to semi-regular basis. I use other bloggers' blogrolls to find new things to read, and I hope others use mine the same. Usually I like the blogs that my favorite bloggers visit.

And I totally suck at regular commenting or replying to my regular commenters! Apologies.

P.S. Happy VD!

8:11 AM  
Blogger Nessa said...

It's easier for me to keep track of the ones I read by having them in my blogroll. I feel like I can add more now that I have the drop down menu. I don't get to all of them all the time and I don't always get to comment, but if your name is on there, I probably visit at least once a week and catch up where I left off. Here's a big secret I have - if you are on my blogroll and you don't update for weeks at a time, I take you off. Only because it wastes my time clicking. However, I do transfer them to my favorites and pop in occasionally. That's probably about as haughty as I get with the rolling. Did that sound bad? And I tried feeds to get updated blogs, but it drove me crazy with the ones that update lots during the day - it was like information overload!

8:59 AM  
Blogger Rock said...

You know all of this time I thought we were talking about "eggrolls" - it's lunchtime y'know.

Wordgirl - you're hitting a creative stratosphere here - showing unrelated photos while talking about something completely else. And no one on this comment list skipped a beat.

I think I'll show some pictures of Hillary while talking about fiscal responsiblity.

Whooops - there goes any future blogoramas for me!!!

12:43 PM  
Blogger Cat said...

I haven't changed my blogroll in, like, forever. Perhaps I should! It's way outdated, and I love to read tons more blogs than I actually have listed. So I actually end up clicking on a link from MY blogroll and going to someone else's blog to click on a link on their blogroll to actually get to the blog I want to read...

OMG. It's official. I am the laziest person alive. I am so ashamed...

2:34 PM  
Blogger mE said...

Your car pics about gave me a sympathetic heart attack... the Vampire will turn 16 soon, and this is definitely the stuff of nightmares!

(I'm assuming that oldest son has survived both accident *and* brother's wrath?)

Re Blogrolls:

My current criteria for the blogroll is 'blogs I like to read'. Which at the moment is largely comprised of bloggers who make comments on my own blog; when someone makes a comment that I find amusing, I will look up their blog. It's not a guaranteed thing by any means... but often the blog is as amusing and interesting as the comments are.

I often find interesting blogs through the blogrolls of people on my 'regular reading list'; I think of this as the most useful purpose of blogrolling. So I don't mind adding the blogs of people who are 'too big to care about my recommendation' to my blogroll. It's a sort of Public Service to my readers, I guess...

That said, I'm sure there is a bit of that clique-ish aspect to the blogroll, and a certain degree of narcissism; my readers are attracted to my blog because their sense of humor or opinions or interests are similar to mine. And I in turn am interested in them because in some way or other their blogs reflect my own preferences.

That being the case, I suppose it is inevitable that occasionally people will take it personally when they don't end up on one's blogroll. Even by the standards you've given, it still comes down to some version or other of 'you're not enough like me, you are Outside'.

I suspect it's particularly hard when one party places the other on their blogroll, and the action is not reciprocated...

Oh, dear, perhaps it's time to update the blogroll again?


11:20 PM  
Blogger The June Cleaver Diaries said...

I would blogroll, if I could figure out how to do it---- Misfit Hausfrau, my personal IT assistant, has yet to show me how.

3:17 PM  

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