Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Some Random Thoughts on Blogrolls



Most blogs have blogrolls.

A blogroll is just a list of links to other blogs that the blogger likes, almost always in the sidebar of the blog.

A blogroll is a reflection that, for most of us, blogging is not just about spewing out our thoughts and photos down a one-way pipe to all the great unwashed on the Interwebs; it is, at least in part, about connecting with other people with similar interests, being social, making online friends. It is about saying, hey I am not just a writer, I'm a reader too and here is what I like to read.

It's part of the Blogger's Code that if some other blogger includes your blog on their blogroll, you should at least consider adding that blog to your own blogroll.  Just like if someone sends you a Christmas card it is polite to reciprocate. But just like the Pirate's Code, the Blogger's Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. So you don't have to reciprocate.

Personally I put blogs on my blogroll if I find them interesting and if I think my readers will find them interesting too. I do prune my blogroll from time to time. If someone's content is not so interesting to me any more I take their blog off my blogroll. If someone doesn't post anything for many months I drop them from my blogroll. Please don't beg to be on my blogroll, or whine if you get dropped. Some people do. For christ's sake people, get a grip. It's only a blogroll.

I use the feature in Blogger that sorts my blogroll by the date of each blog's most recent update. That way I see blogs with new posts at the top of my blogroll, and the ones that haven't had a new post for several months near the bottom. Every so often I lop blogs off the bottom of the list. Let's see who is there now. Apparent Wind and O Dock. Hmmm. It will be a shame if those blogs really are defunct and have to be pruned.

Some bloggers have cutesy names for their blogrolls. O Docker has Blogs Way Better Than This One. Baydog has My Daily Bread. I call my main blogroll Elite Media. What's in a name anyway?

Blogrolls vary in length. Some people seem to have hundreds of blogs on their blogroll. I have about forty. One blog that I really like, Improper Course, has only one.

Some blogs don't have blogrolls at all. I guess the authors have a different purpose for their blogs than most of us. Often they are blogs that are clearly designed to make money through advertising and sponsorship, or are written to promote an author's books, for example. I still think it's a bit of a shame that those folk don't at least make an effort to tell us what blogs they like to read. For some reason, a blog with no blogroll always reminds me of this...




But, hey, I'll get over it.

What do you think about blogrolls?


40 comments:

Baydog said...

Cutesy, huh?

Tillerman said...

I am incredibly below average at choosing the right words on my blog. I guess what I meant to say was "totally amazing and brilliant."

George A said...

I agree. A blog without a blog roll is a bit of a disappointment. Sort of like a research paper without citations. A good blog roll can take you in directions you ordinarily would never know of or visit.

Baydog said...

Now cutesy seems more accurate!

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Skipper, I don't feel good (comfortable) making nice to you. But I disclose that whenever I have time to read other blogs, I usually refer to your blog roll to get a heads'up on the meat and bones on the sailing blogosphere.

If I were to be picky, I would pick a bone with you for dropping that Florida Laser sailor's blog. (What's his name? Do I have to go back to my blogroll to find him?) He hasn't published in many, many months. But when he does, his words are iconic.

Tillerman said...

If you mean Sam Chapin's How to Sail the Laser, I haven't dropped him. He's still on the Elite Media roll. It's just that he's way down the list because he hasn't posted since September. I hope he's OK.

Thanks for your kind words about my blogroll Doc. I don't feel comfortable when you make nice to me either.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

No, Skipper! No it's Antolin of Bel Mar Sailing, Pottery and Yacht Sales. He hasn't published in over a year but I'm keeping him on my list because when he does, I don't want to miss it.

Keep Reaching said...

The internet has such fabulous potential to inform and connect - but often available only if one can avoid/cut through a lot of commercial clutter. Blogrolls are a good way to do that - offering a word of mouth recommendation from someone you know. Sort of like the Tripadvisor and similar comments that many of us look to.

I wonder what people think of Blognation and similar - do they serve the same function? Are they useful?

George A said...

I use google reader to keep an eye on blogs with random, intermittent activity.

Tillerman said...

Oh yes. Antolin's blog was a doozie. He is a pretty good potter too.

Maybe I should have a separate list of Once Great Blogs Whose Owners Lost Interest In Them But I'm Keeping Them On This List In Case They Change Their Minds?

Tillerman said...

Hmm. Never tried Blognation before. I see that the top blog in their Sports and Games category is some sailing blog called Reaching Broadly. It's incredibly above average.

O Docker said...

I've actually been doing a study for the Society of Leisurely And Carefree Knights of Retirement (SLACKR). They've commisioned me to determine just how long you can go without blogging and still stay on Tillerman's blogroll. It looks like the limit is four months, so I'd better get off my butt and write something pretty soon.

In the course of my research, I've discovered something I long suspected. It's a lot easier to just leave disruptive and annoying comments on other people's blogs than it is to write posts of your own. How do you do it?


Tillerman said...

If my blog maintenance android really does have a four month rule, you have only six days before he pulls the plug on you O Docker.

Storm said...

As a person who uses a blog as a kind of journal I don't have a blog roll. But as you say above, I'm not really looking for any kind of communication or "sharing" beyond a small scope of friends who may (or may not) be interested in my blathering--I tend to record snippets of my reading that bear analogous juxtaposition.

But I do have two cents worth of "blog reader" perspective: I don't care for the blog roll--or rather, I am at times indifferent to (blocking it from my conscious vision, something like what I do with advertising, which it is a species of) or at times hostile to.

If I find things interesting, I blog about them. If I want to share that interest directly--that is if I don't want it to be siphoned through my own brain--then I will offer a link in the body of the text.

I don't feel I can with real confidence "endorse" blogs in a blog roll as that seems a de facto act that I "approve" their content without actually reading it. And that is further to the point just made--if I "approve," find interesting, for both negative and positive reasons, or otherwise wish a reader to be aware of a piece of writing that I have read, I share that piece of writing and not the blog in general.

It seems a kind of presumption that I think anyone cares about what I have to say in the first place but then a double-presumption to believe I should think this extends to content about which I cannot be fully versed.

Finally, I suppose I don't want a blog roll to "pigeon hole" the "identity" I am trying to present in the writing.

Tillerman said...

Thanks for that alternative view on blogrolls Storm. I certainly understand and respect your reasons for not having a blogroll on your personal blog.

However, I did click on your name which leads to your Blogger Profile, from where I clicked on the My Blogs link which leads to a blog about public education, on which you are one of several contributors. That blog does seem to have a fairly long blogroll. But then I guess if you are discussing a matter like that of wide public interest it is healthy to introduce readers to other voices on the same topic.

my2fish said...

I agree with Keep Reaching - it's a nice way to filter down which blogs others have already found to be worth reading.

Tinker at Sea said...

My problem is that I can't for the life of me figure out how to get a blogroll like the blogger ones in Wordpress - I have been trying for the past few months to find a widget or the like without success. It seems that Wordpress displays a list of links... which doesn't look great. Any suggestions as the best way to do this in Wordpress would be greatfully received - even Mr Google hasn't solved this issue for me!

theknittingsailor.com said...

I'm with you on Blogroll - I love looking at what others are reading about and some of the random places they have led me has been great.

It's on my to-do list as when I add one to my template thing anything with a title of more that a dozen charecters overlaps my actual content. Being a techno idiot I have no idea how to correct this, and as such have it on my to do list to fix. Alternatively if everyones blog I follow could just stick to short titles that would sort the problem quicker. Consider yourself told.

So I think you can add 'idiot bloggers who use templates that don't work for this and are too lazy to correct them or to inform other bloggers they need to make their blog titles shorter' as another reason for no list....

I'll get onto it immediately now instructed mine commandant.

(p.s. - whatever happened with Tillerwomans cardie?????)

Tillerman said...

Hmmm. I think I'm right in saying that when I started this Blogger blog, back in 2005, the only way to display the blogroll was as a simple list of links, as you often see on Wordpress blogs even today.

The ability to show a thumbnail and a snippet and the title (for example) of the most recent post was a much more recent offering. Once I realized I could sort the blogroll to put the ones with newer posts at the top, I also dropped using an RSS reader to read my favorite blogs. I think the new features are much more enticing. They really help you decide which items in a blogroll are worth clicking through to see more.

Can any Wordpress expert help Tinker at Sea with her question?

Tillerman said...

Oh yeah. Look what I just found. A copy on the Wayback Machine of my blog from early 2006. Look at that boring blogroll. And where are they all now? I think only 4 of those blogs are still on my current blogroll!

Tillerman said...

The saga of the cardigan that Tillerwoman is knitting for our granddaughter still continues. After the horrors of losing the pattern in the swimming pool in Menorca and the heroic rescue of aforementioned pattern, Tillerwoman continued knitting the cardigan. But before it was finished she decided that it was too small, so she pulled it all out and started knitting it again in a larger size. It's still not finished as she doesn't knit much at home, mainly just when she's on vacation.

When she started this cardigan our granddaughter was 6. Now she's 7. Goodness knows how old she will be by the time it's finished!

Tinker at Sea said...

It seems like blogrolls may be a thing of the past in WordPress, according to this link. The advice from WordPress is to create a page of links and recommendations then "Write an introduction paragraph that explains the purpose of these links and your recommendation of them." That doesn't sound quite so nice nor dynamic does it?

Tillerman said...

Well I guess if I were designing a blogging platform from scratch and blogrolls had never been invented, I might go the way of putting recommended links on a separate page. It does free up space on the front page for stuff created by the blogger, info about his or her blog, ads that he or she wants to place, or sponsors he or she wants to reward.

Storm articulated some good reasons why some people prefer that route.

But personally I tend to like the blogroll. It enables me to tell my readers, "Hey, I like these bloggers. I consider some of these bloggers my friends." And by doing that it makes blogging more of a social activity.

Was blogging really the start of social media?

O Docker said...

Historically, blogrolls were a separate item on the menu of blogging features available when a blogger designed his blog page.

The various features were offered as standard and 'premium' features, and thus usually grouped into 'A' items and 'B' items, depending upon the level of blogging service purchased. In the early days, these groupings of items were called 'quorums'.

Blogrolls were soon so popular, though, that they were offered as a free incentive feature by some blogging services. In a very competitive marketplace, many 'combination' packages of features were offered.

Probably the most popular incentive program was offered by Typepad, though.

If you ordered one item from quorum 'A' and one from quorum 'B', you got a free blogroll.

Baydog said...

But did you find that a half hour later, you wanted to order again?

O Docker said...

Some did, but others complained of bandwidth headaches.

/Pam said...

Over at Improper Course we're always a little behind the curve and have to rely on Proper Course to set us straight. We didn't know there was a Blogger's Code. Proper Course is the sole blog on our blogroll because it's our one stop shop when we want to see what is going on in the blogger sailing world.

But, now that we know the Blogger's Code ... nah, I think we'll keep deferring to your wisdom and tastes.

Interestingly enough, there are those that get us confused. The other day I had someone ask me if I was Tillerwoman.

Tillerman said...

LOL. I've had people confuse me with Dick Tillman. That's even more crazy.

Storm said...

Yes, indeed that blog (not administered by me) does have a "roll" and I'd say that it expresses the "identity" of blog in itself. The blog roll is primarily a "self-extension" in that sense and though you would likely find more "information" you would not likely find "difference."

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

You mean? You're Not? Why do I call you 'Skipper' then?

Tillerman said...

I thought you were just one of those old guys who can never remember anyone's name so they call everybody "skipper".

theknittingsailor.com said...

I am on Wordpress too - think this is why I am having the probs below..... :(

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

No. I call you 'Skipper', because I can't call you 'Dick'!

Tillerman said...

Well I am very grateful for that Doc.

Tillerman said...

Hmmm. Over 30 comments on a post about blogrolls and only 5 on my thrilling account about actual sailing last weekend. Clearly readers of this blog are more interested in discussing the minutiae of blogging than helping me to become a better Laser sailor.

So what shall I post about next?

7 Tips On Choosing Fonts For Your Blog

How Wide Should Your Sidebar Be?

Webinar Etiquette

What does that weird thing that says "Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)" at the bottom of my blog really mean?

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Skipper, I know there is such a thing as email etiquette. But I would like to learn more about what Pam mentions as The Bloggers' Code. What is that? (I assume it's not HTML.)

Tillerman said...

It may just be a coincidence.... but the owners of the two blogs I mentioned in this post as being dangerously close to dropping off my blogroll because of not posting anything for several months, somehow managed to generate new posts this week. Welcome back O Dock and Apparent Wind!

Baydog said...

Looks like Sam Chapin better get on the ball!

Tillerman said...

Fred in Germany is next for the chop if he doesn't shape up!

Pat said...

Perhaps for some bloggers, a blog is enough an extension of personality that it's a bit like a pet or boat. Certainly you got a rich response to your post.

The original idea behind Desert Sea is the perhaps unexpected notion of "sailing in the desert", which doesn't seem to be an overexposed subject. It also occasionally reflects interests in regatta management, boating safety, and our travels and lives in general. I don't so often blog to tell stories or vent rants, but rather tend to the visual. Desert Sea has been around for a while, and has used up most of its free space from Blogger, so some day there will likely be a successor blog, probably with more bells and whistles and modern styling. Some of my hacking around in Blogger had unanticipated results; since then I've decided to leave the format well enough alone and just post when I happen to get some interesting images or some event, afloat or ashore, provokes me sufficiently. And sometimes I'm doing scenic/photogenic stuff but just don't have a camera to hand or spare time or think of getting images.

Post a Comment