Well, while I was thinking about other things, most of them having to do with me and the importance of my feelings to myself, a little thing called “Blogroll Amnesty Day” came and went.
Atrios declared it, Kos jumped on board, and a couple other prominent bloggers did as well. The idea being that they’d revamp their blogrolls on BAD (come up with a better acronym next time, fellas) to clean out the stuff they weren’t reading, theoretically opening up space on their rolls for new, less-well-known blogs. Some of them as were dropped felt hurt, and others took it in stride but pointed out that their traffic didn’t benefit from the change, which hurts if you rely on traffic to help — in the ugly phrase of the year — monetize your blogging.
And did a new crop of bloggers reap the reward? Dunno. Kos is explicitly focusing on electoral blogs. Atrios seems to have contracted his blogroll, and I say that knowing full well and gratefully that I could be described as being at the very top of his blogroll due to my secret identity as a Pandagon co-blogger.
Aside from that, how did BAD affect me? Apparently not at all, at least in any direct way. The one major blogger who’d both participated in BAD and had previously linked me here at Creek Running North is PZ, and he used the occasion to ask for suggestions of new blogs to list, which is as it should be. I made the cut, probably because PZ liked Zeke. I think I picked up a link from My Left Wing during that same week, or at least that’s when I first noticed it.
Lauren points to a good post at Republic of T in which Terrance analyzes the politics of the matter quite well. He’s dispassionate — I think he’s tired — and he’s done some writing on the subject before, so follow his breadcrumbs from that link if you’re interested. Elevator version:
Gone are the days of someone starting a blog on a whim, only to suddenly find themselves among the top ranked. You either have to have the PR muscle of a corporate entity behind you, or the cache of an already established celebrity like Arianna Huffington (with a bevy of celebrity friends to help keep the content flowing and the readers coming to see what those famous names have to say.)
There is perhaps one other path out of blog oblivion; there’s the possibility that you’ll be favored by a blogger further up the curve and, if they link to you often enough, find yourself finally “one of them.”
Of course, as Terrance points out, there is a converse freedom to be had here: if you don’t care about your traffic, you don’t need to care about who blogrolls you.
And I wonder whether the whole discussion is predicated on the assumption that there’s one blogging hierarchy, when in fact there are several. Making Light is way up in one, Twisty in another, Dave Winer in another.
I care and I don’t. I couldn’t ever climb anywhere near the top of the political blogging hierarchy even if I wanted to: I’m just too far to the left for such a thing to happen, and I keep mentioning pesky things like the history of US imperialism prior to 2002. Of course, that might keep me from becoming a leading dog blogger as well. That and not having a dog. I’d like my writing to reach a wider audience, and some of that there above-mentioned monetizationing would be nice, seeing as I am now without an income. But I recognize that predictability is a common denominator among most truly successful blogs, and this blog is not predictable. Some people run political blogs that occasionally veer into music or knitting or recipes. But I’ve got more feet planted firmly in genres than I have actual feet. This is a political blog. It’s a nature blog.
It’s It was a dog blog. I write humor. I write inaccessible poetry. I seem to be getting into music criticism.
This is not supposed to be the way to blogging fame, I know. I’ve been lucky enough to get a link from Atrios and gained a few regular readers that way. Among big-league bloggers PZ and Michael B., and Amanda and Lauren/various of the Feministe people have regularly sent me boatloads of traffic.
But I look at my referral stats, and once you subtract out the 95 percent of my traffic that comes straight offa Google, the bulk of people who click over here come from blogs with far less traffic than the big folks. And all those links from less-trammeled blogs mean more Google traffic, too. Technorati, which misses a lot, says about 325 places link in to this domain. About a dozen of those are at big-traffic blogs, I’m thinking. Nineteen of them go to Ron’s joint. The rest of the links come from non-A-list, and probably non-B-list blogs. Whatever those terms are supposed to mean. I have no idea what they mean, myself. I’m just flinging them around. In fact, I have been referred to as an “A-Lister,” even before I started blogging at Pandagon.
It’s certainly a subjective assessment. I get a thousand visits on a good day these days. Lots more than most blogs, but far less than most you probably read. And yet I got one of these in the mail recently:
I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t know that I have the luxury, any longer, of playing the apathetic outsider sneering at the unimportance of blogrolls. I went to sleep one night being a person cruelly deprived of link juice, and woke up the next morning being the person benefiting from incoming links without giving nearly as much back. 325 links coming in and I’ve got about 58 going out from the blogroll. Is that fair?
I hate long blogrolls, though. This is the problem. I don’t usually use other people’s blogrolls to look for blogs I haven’t visited before. I’m far more likely to follow a link in the text of a post. And I’m far more likely to want to link to your blog in a post as well. My sense is that those links are more valuable. And my sense is that — when I can actually bring myself to write a post these days — I’m pretty free with those links.
But maybe I’m on crack. What do you folks think? How do you use blogrolls? Do you use blogrolls? Is this BAD an abrogation of community, or a petty feud?
Oh, and check out my blogroll. Lots of good folks there. Some you’ve heard of, some you haven’t.