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Blog Rolls:
How much attention do blog readers give to blog rolls these days? It used to be that blog rolls (the list of linked blogs down the side of the page) were really important. I have the vague impression that they no longer matter as much as they used to. Do you agree? If there has been a change, why has it happened?
frankcross (mail):
I still use them. VC is my intermediate link to some of your blog roll (saving me space on my favorites list). And sometimes I like to explore new ones. There are a lot of good sites I never would have found but for blog rolls
5.17.2007 9:01pm
Xenos:
When I stumble upon new blogs, one of the first things I usually check is the blog roll. Like Frank said, there are a lot of good sites I never would have found but for blog rolls. I don't know if they're "really important", but I'd maintain that they still matter. I think it also helps preserve the community mentality that exists throughout much of the blogging scene.
5.17.2007 9:09pm
JPM (mail):
It's funny, because I just came back to this site for the first time in a while (haven't had the time to read the posts) after clicking it off a blogroll. Being greeted with this post was almost like being guilted! Glad to be back.
5.17.2007 9:11pm
OrinKerr:
JPM, I had tried everything -- glad that worked.
5.17.2007 9:15pm
Wintermute (mail) (www):
If people don't see my blog in the blogroll, they kinda discount that roll.
5.17.2007 9:28pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
Blog rolls can't be that important, because my blog is on very, very few of them.

(Serious feedback now: I'm with Xenos, supra.)
5.17.2007 9:36pm
mrshl (www):
Back in the day, I'd use blog rolls to flit from blog to blog, even if I had them bookmarked. Now that I use a feed reader, there's I can't believe I used to do that.
5.17.2007 9:37pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
I think that blogrolls now are primarily useful in strengthening new blog communities. Mathematics weblogs, for instance, have exploded in the last year, and blogrolls help us to keep up on the community. As it ages and settles down, I expect the community to establish some sort of hierarchy and it will look a lot like blawgs do now. The blogroll will become less and less important as that happens.
5.17.2007 9:41pm
MikeC&F (mail):
I still use them. I use the VC's blog roll to get my entertainment reading a blog by some political hacks. (The worst of both Right and Left are both represented on the VC's blog roll!) know a lot of people use RSS readers like Bloglines, so blog rolls don't matter as much.
5.17.2007 9:55pm
Lawrence Krubner (mail) (www):
In 2002 and 2003 and even 2004 blogrolls were very important to me. I was actively searching for new people to read. Nowadays, I only start reading a new blog when an author I already read directly links to the new blog, from a post. I don't know why, but I no longer look at blogrolls.
5.17.2007 9:58pm
James Grimmelmann (mail) (www):
I've deleted my own blogroll. It had become nothing but a headache. I found myself worrying about whether blogs on it had been updated recently, whether I ought to add new blogs that I was reading, whether I should add blogs as a show of respect. Better, I think, simply to link to interesting things as appropriate. There is no shortage of interesting blogs, and readers can easily find many blogs to their interests without blogrolls to help them along.
5.17.2007 10:03pm
Respondent (mail):
I found some of the most interesting blogs I have seen out there through the orinkerr.com blogroll.
5.17.2007 10:10pm
Alan Gunn:
I use them often when looking at blogs dealing with subjects I hadn't previously read widely in. (Shooting, for example, which I took up in earnest only after retiring.)
5.17.2007 10:11pm
sbw (mail) (www):
Too few prune their blogrolls. They should be no longer than the list of blogs you regularly visit... the ones one click away in your bookmark banner. I have 15 in my bookmark banner and some I visit less frequently.
5.17.2007 10:26pm
JB:
I periodically pick a random blog off the VC blogroll and read it.

I'd suggest blogs keep a "We read these regularly" blogroll and a "If you like us, check this out" blogroll.
5.17.2007 10:31pm
Jon B (mail):
I probably used blogroll links the most when I first started reading blawgs during my first year of law school; back then I simply had no quick and easy way to tell which blogs were worth reading regularly except for the vouch that blogrolls provide. I know I discovered VC through a blogroll elsewhere. On a slow afternoon I still find myself clicking on the blogroll from this and other blogs on my commonly-read list.

I appreciate the practice over at Slog (slog.thestranger.com) of dividing the blog roll into "Friends of Slog" and "Enemies of Slog". While that kind of bifurcation of the world wouldn't be so much in keeping with VC's style, it is a useful device. VC does cluster its blogroll but without clearly explaining the taxonomy.
5.17.2007 10:35pm
John Tabin (mail) (www):
I think that as RSS feeds have become more widely used, the importance of blogrolls has diminished. That's kind of a shame, since as mentioned above you do find new and worthwhile things when you poke around blogrolls. On the other hand, they were never as big a deal as some people made of them; I'm thinking in particular of the kind of people who used to ostentatiously de-link bloggers they got mad at.
5.17.2007 10:40pm
uh_clem (mail):
I spend a lot of time reading blogs and I find blog rolls fairly useless. I almost never click on them. I've bookmarked the blogs I frequent, and the only reason to go to a new one is if one of the bloggers I respect has taken the time to cite and link to a particular post. When that happens, the referenced blog may make it into my bookmarks. Or not, depending.

Blogrolls are useful on the rare occasions when my bookmarks are unavailable (e.g. when I'm using a public terminal). Once I hit Blog A I can surf to all my usual haunts.

Other than that, it's not at all important to me. It is very important to the proprietors of the linked blogs, and if you're an active participant in the blogosphere you'll want to maintain good relations with your peers - mutual linking is not too much to ask, so just do it. An hour a month vetting the blogroll is just one of the costs of business. Granted, few people are going to take seriously a rant from a blogger who's panties are in a knot because they've been dropped from a blogroll, but it's not worth the grief to drop everybody.
5.17.2007 10:55pm
Amber (www):
I almost exclusively use blogrolls to find new sites in an area of the blogosphere I'm not familiar with already. Topical organization is a must, though; too many sites just have a long roll (or worse, a constantly rotating one). The latter is especially bad if you do occasionally rely on clicking through from a blogroll to visit a site.
5.17.2007 11:00pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
My impression is that blogrolls are more useful for smaller sites with fewer entries in the blogroll. It's good for finding friends of a friends blog. It's not all that useful for big sites like this that have five zillion entries in the blogroll.
5.17.2007 11:08pm
Matthew Anderson (mail) (www):
I almost never use blogrolls to find blogs. But apparently google's blogsearch uses them to rank the authority of blogs (the more blogrolls you're on, the higher ranked your blog, and the better blogrolls you get on, the higher ranked your blog). Details here (it's not my post, but it's very helpful!).
5.17.2007 11:11pm
Ajakk:
The reason that blogrolls aren't as important is because many people use blog readers now. Thus, people don't see blogrolls because they are just reading the content of the post on (usually) Google Reader. I don't look at blogrolls at all. I just find new blogs by seeing what other blogs refer to.
5.17.2007 11:30pm
Cathy (mail) (www):
I'll sometimes use blogrolls of blogs I particularly like to hopefully find more of the same.

I've recently replaced my static blogroll on my blog with a blogroll dynamically created by Bloglines and populated with my RSS subscriptions. I don't know if people who read my blog use it for anything, but I'm happy to have it on my site as a "what I'm reading these days" kind of thing for anyone who might be interested in that. And because it's dynamically created by Bloglines, showing a snapshot of whatever I happen to be subscribed to at the moment the blogroll is displayed, I never have to worry about manually updating it.
5.17.2007 11:37pm
Zyzzogeton:
What blogrolls?
5.18.2007 12:24am
Fern:
I use blog rolls to find more blogs, especially when I am looking for blogs on a specific topic. If I find one blog on say, American literature, then that blog will surely have more blogs about American literature. Also, when I see a blog consistently listed on blog rolls then I know the blog is probably an authority in that subject area.
5.18.2007 12:39am
Guy:
Blogrolls are usually too long to be of any use to me. Five or ten should be the limit. Any more than that and I just assume the blogroller is just fishing for links.
5.18.2007 3:27am
Gino:
Already been said, but I second it. Blog rolls are good for finding like-minded blogs or blogs with similar subject matter. I use them to find new and interesting blogs.
5.18.2007 10:08am
Gary McGath (www):
Blog rolls are good not only for directing people to like-minded blogs (or at least blogs of interest to like-minded people), but for ratings in services like Technorati, which count the number of incoming links to a blog. So yes, they're worthwhile.
5.18.2007 10:46am
rho (www):
Useless. Even more useless than the "archives" links, that in a highly-trafficked blog are worthless as far as finding something relevant.

If another blog has something good to say, you'll link it. And maybe I'll read it, and if I like it enough, I'll add the RSS feed. But I don't have the time or inclination to click randomly on a blogroll to see if I can find something interesting.

The VC blogroll is relatively tame, too. Many sites have a nutty 100+ entry list. Blogrolls were big way back when they seemed to boost your Google ranking. They don't much anymore.
5.18.2007 11:41am
Sarah (mail) (www):
I started my blogroll as a way of easily adding and removing links to stuff I read all the time. Truly authoritative and/or permanent sites (Britannica, Wikipedia, my church's website) were put on a static HTML page I wrote to use as my home page; the more ephemeral and routinely updated stuff goes on my blogroll (which I can access from work &school.) I stuck it on my blog's sidebar mostly because everyone else does it, and at the time I thought it'd give a bit of a boost to the lower-ranked sites I like, and because my blog is accessible anywhere and my hard drive is not.

However, I too use RSS in place of blogrolls (mine, and everyone else's.) Not deleting mine from my blog is matter of not wanting to be a bad community member than anything else; if I visit a blog, I'm far more likely to click on a "hey, check this out" link than a blogroll link (www.timesandseasons.org puts their "check this out" link list just underneath their fresh comments list, and www.bycommonconsent.com puts theirs on the very top of their left-side bar.)

Having said that, there are selected authoritative sites that do a great job of pruning and freshening up their blogrolls, and I do pay attention to them -- and I also judge the nature and intentions of a new (or new to me) blogger in part by what they do and don't put on their blogrolls.

Also, being put on a particular blog's blogroll was the start of a very slow process of welcoming that ended with them asking me to become a permanent member of their blogging team a few weeks ago, so.
5.18.2007 1:09pm
Meryl Yourish (www):
They're important enough that I'm constantly asked to add new blogs to them.

I generally do, if it's not a blog I disagree with vehemently.

Clickthroughs are more important. My readers apparently have very similar tastes. I'm told my clickthrough rate is pretty high when I tell them to go read someone else's blog.

I seem to have attracted more readers, though, by no longer being linked by anyone. I have no idea how they're finding me, but they are.
5.18.2007 7:55pm
Tim DeRoche:
The VC should be able to provide a quantitative perspective on this:

-Are blogroll links being used more or less than the past (on an absolute basis)?

-Have blogroll-link-usages-as-a-percent-of-total-page-views changed significantly in the past few years?

Granted, one blog probably isn't a big enough "n" to provide a complete answer... but it would be an interesting data point.
5.18.2007 11:17pm
TCO:
Not Larry Sabato has a very nice blog roll for Virginia politics. It gives a lot of the smaller guys some feeling of community. It is organized by activity (ratings). I think having the blog roll (and maintaining it well) in addition to some good content has made NLS the class of VA politics bloggers. Probably there is some synergy between these two things, as maintaining his blog roll makes NLS keep his finger on the pulse.

http://notlarrysabato.typepad.com/
5.19.2007 10:58pm