mmmm: on the blogroll

mmmmWhen I come across a blog that is new to me, one of the first things I do is look for a blogroll. It gives me some insight into the person behind the blog: tastes, humor, worldview and whatnot. It’s fun to see if I recognize any blogs on the list, and to see if we share common interests. It reminds me a bit of my tendency to go right to the references section of an article I’m reading when I’m in research mode.

Why I have a blogroll

I see the blogroll as a courtesy feature of a blog. Potential visitors can get insight into who I am by way of who I know. It’s a courtesy to the bloggers on the list, as I am potentially sending them traffic, whether directly through people who like to explore blogrolls, or by adding to their rankings for search engines or Technorati. Foremost, my blogroll acknowledges that I read and enjoy those blogs (and/or that those people read and enjoy my blog). Like a references section in a journal article, it lists the bloggers whose voices have influenced and inspired my own writing.

Who is on my blogroll?

If I list a blog in my blogroll, it means that I regularly read that blog. I may miss a post here and there when my life gets hectic, or may skim over a long post on a topic that is alien to me (such as about a TV show I don’t watch). But if a blog is up there, that means I am a loyal reader.

I admit that there are blogs in my feed reader that I have not put on my blogroll. Usually it’s because I haven’t established a rapport with those bloggers. Sometimes I’ve just forgotten to add a blog.

Some of the blogs there are fairly dormant. This applies especially to a few of my near and dear real life friends who started blogs, but didn’t keep them going for long. (But they should have!)

I’m considering paring down the list, and removing blogs that have not been updated in, say, 6 months. (So post something if this applies to you!)

Removing blogs from the blogroll

It makes me sad to remove blogs from my blogroll, and I’ve done so only a few times. Mostly this has been when a blogger has deleted the blog or made it private. In at least one case I took a blog down after faithfully reading a blog and leaving comments for an extended time, and never getting back any sign of a visit back from that blogger. Another time I noticed that my own blog was removed from a blogroll, so I responded by removing that blog from my own.

Adding to the blogroll

I usually will add to my blogroll if I find my blog on a blogroll, and/or if I get regular comments from the blog author. I used to be fairly stubborn about not adding blogs without these happenings. Now I’m quicker to add if I find a blog I like (and if I happen to be in the mood to add links).

I’ve been rather hesitant to add big, high profile blogs to my blogroll, but I have started to do that more. There are now several big blogs in my sidebar whose authors don’t read my blog, though they have at some point been courteous enough to come by for a visit and leave a comment (or otherwise acknowledge my existence).

to blogroll or not to blogroll

I’m not quite sure why some people don’t have them. (Well, laziness I understand, if that’s the reason.) Some prefer instead to share favorites from their feeds, some prefer to link to blogs in posts. I think these ways of expressing appreciation for other bloggers are great, but for me don’t supplant the blogroll.

It seems that some people find blogrolls quaint and outdated. Well, call me quaint and outdated. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

Still others prefer to keep their reading lists to themselves.

Where I stick it

My blogroll has gotten a bit unwieldy, but I still like having it on my front page. In fact, I like having a theme that keeps the sidebar showing for all pages. Some people think a gigantic blogroll clutters the page, and detracts. But I like giving it the extra exposure. Call me cluttered. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

Blogrolling by numbers
And to demonstrate my compulsive tendencies, I actually counted up the blogs currently on my blogroll, and tallied up how many had blogrolls. I made a spreadsheet. Call me a dork. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

    blogs on my blogroll: 78
    blogs on my blogroll with blogrolls: 58
    blogs on my blogroll with blogrolls with my blog: 47

Blogroll me, baby!
In case you haven’t guessed it, I like being listed on blogrolls. It feels like support and validation. Also that acknowledgment of existence, which I seem so partial to.

So, what are your thought on blogrolls?

This was the first post of the metablogging series I threatened to write as part of my self-declared Merry Merry Month of Metablogging.

36 thoughts on “mmmm: on the blogroll

  1. I had an extensive blogroll on my old blog. I haven’t yet put one up on (or done anything cool with) my new blog. It’s a laziness/lack of time thing for me. Maybe I’ll get around to it while I’m on leave…

    1. I believe I actually counted you as having a blogroll, Leslie, based on your previous blog.

      And I totally get the laziness/lack of time thing. (It’s the same reason I haven’t done a bunch of other things to clean up my own blog.) I hope you enjoy your brief bit of having a bit of time!

  2. Not having a blog, I do not have a blogroll. But I do regularly read several blogs, of which this is the only (personal blog) written by someone I do not actually know personally.
    In fact, I’ve been reflecting lately that it’s not that fair that Alejna knows nothing about me. The best I can do about that, short of starting my own blog, is to refer Alejna, and her readers who read the comments, to my totally out-of-date personal website that I started when I was in grad school (in the rather early days of the internet), which has not been updated in several years, though probably more recently than the date indicated on the site. Most of the links on it are probably broken. Anyway, here it is:

    1. Thanks, Sally! I admit I’ve been curious about you, and found myself wishing you had a blog so I could pay you a visit.

      Now I have learned many fascinating tidbits about you and your interests! (I had previously known only that you clearly had great taste in blogs, and more recently, that you like socks. Especially striped ones.) I never would have guessed that you were a dancing mathematician! (Well, at least it wouldn’t have been my first guess. Maybe 3rd or 4th…)

  3. Well written. I love blog rolls–most of the people on my blog roll I have found by browsing other people’s blog rolls. And I agree, the blog roll is a courtesy and shows a connection. I have started following a few blogs, but I hardly ever visit my dash-board for updates. I don’t get following either. I can’t seem to find much information out about my followers when I click on their icon. So I really don’t know how to visit them. Anyway, thanks for the post, I really enjoyed reading it.

    1. Hi, Kaye! Thanks for coming by, for your nice comment, and for having linked to me. (And you may notice that I have one more blog on my list now.)

      The followers business is pretty new to me, so I haven’t really figured it out myself. I’ve noticed it on Blogger/blogspot blogs, so I don’t know if it’s particular to that platform.

  4. When I first started blogging, other people’s blogrolls were HUGE in helping me find other blogs. I’d notice the same names on different blogs. I would just randomly try blogs. I found lots of blogs I still read this way.

    I am not so good about updating my blogroll, but I admit to having taken down a few as well. I’ve done this if I haven’t read that person’s blog in a while. (I’m interested in a post about why you (we?) stop reading someone else’s blog)

    my blogroll is like yours, though, when it is updated… it’s people I read pretty regularly, and mostly people I have a bloggy connecting with (who also read and comment regularly on my blog) – but not entirely

    1. That’s cool that you found blogs you read through blogrolls, Painted. I’m not sure I’ve found any *just* through blogrolls. Usually it’s been in combination with seeing the name on comments on other people’s posts and links in posts. And the more often I see the name at blogs I read, whether in comments, post links or blogroll, the more likely I am to go visit. (I guess that’s how advertising works.)

      I’m also curious about what makes people stop reading (or stop commenting on) a blog. I may stick my neck out and share my own feelings, but it seems a sticky topic.

  5. I don’t usually put bigger bloggers who I don’t have any relationship with on my blogroll. Occasionally, someone will blogroll me and I will not notice for a while but I try to reciprocate whenever I get blogrolled (you can add another to the list of blogrolls you are on!). I have some blogs in my feedreader that aren’t in my blogroll either because I lurk or because I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I am slack sometimes.

    1. Ali, you sound a lot like me. Which is probably why I added you to my blogroll. (Thanks for adding me to yours!)

      Your comment also brings up another topic I’d like to think about: what makes people lurk? I guess that will probably come up to some extent when I write about commenting.

  6. I used to have a blogroll. Now I have Google Reader with 100 plus subscriptions and I try to share items that I read via my Reader on my side bar.

    I got rid of the blogroll for time management reasons. As a compulsive procrastinator, I found that if all the blogs I read were available on my blog, then I would easily fritter away a work day reading blogs. By managing them in a Reader, I can set rules as to when my Reader is allowed to be open –and that doesn’t preclude my incessant need to do comment checks on my own blog.

    I make up for my lack of a blog roll by being a fairly faithful commenter and link-backer. For me, I am far more interested in keeping the conversation alive than worrying about driving traffic and rankings.

    I’ve also been known to promote other people’s individual blog posts on Twitter. I like to think that such actions atone for my lack of a blog roll.

    One more thing: I also found that maintaining a blogroll was too much work/stress. I was too lazy to stay on top of it and too anxious about offending people to manage it properly in such a public way.

    1. I like the way you share items in your side bar, Mad. (Especially since you’ve listed some of mine! I was very flattered.) I’m not sure if a widget like that is available on WordPress, or I might consider it now that I’m trying out Google Reader.

      Interesting that you found that the blogroll was a temptation. I rarely click through the links on my blogroll, and have only done so more often recently due to my problems with a broken feed reader. Of course, when I was using Safari as a reader, the unreads were much more in my face than with Google Reader. I sort of miss it, since I could see instantly if there was a new post.

      You are really great about links in posts, Mad, and I have gotten to know some other bloggers by following those links. And you’re wonderful for leaving comments regularly. (I especially appreciate it since I am a somewhat irregular commenter.)

      Conversations are most important to me, too, but I also see traffic and rankings as motivators for a lot of bloggers. (Myself included. I admit it. I get a bit of a thrill if a post of mine gets a lot of visits.)

      I guess I haven’t run into the stress of maintaining a blogroll much, but perhaps it’s because my blog is pretty low profile. (Though I do worry a bit that I may offend someone if I don’t add their blog. I hate offending people.)

    1. I certainly can understand wanting to avoid hassle, Emily! And I’ve been lucky enough not to know about it if I have hurt someone’s feelings. (Hopefully I haven’t.)

  7. When I first started blogging, like PM, I found new blogs through the blogrolls of blogs I read.

    I agree with you on the courtesy and reciprocality of the blogroll. The problem is, I’m always trying to give it up, like a bad habit, so I dropped the blogroll. I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I’m reliable or committed or anything. Even though I am. My habits are pretty steady and it’s painful for me to pare down my blogroll. I do like the support from others of being on their blogroll and seeing which blogs we have in common, especially because I don’t often go back to read comments after I have commented. (Is that going to be one of your topics?)

    When I recently changed to the new template I was going to reinstate the blogroll, but it does not allow an import from my google reader and I am too lazy to type it all in.

    1. Sometimes I think I need to give up blogging, addiction that it is. But I figure it’s better for me (and cheaper) than drugs.

      I hadn’t thought about the topic of going back to read comments. When I hit commenting, I’ll try to remember. (And while I’m thinking of it, I do often go back to read comments after I have commented. This is part of the way blogging eats up all of the time I should be spending working.)

      I guess I haven’t had to deal with work of starting a blogroll fresh. Mine started small, and has only grown gradually, in a way that is very manageable.

  8. Like PM and De, I read a bunch of blogs and followed blogroll links when I got started.

    My blogroll runs on Bloglines, but I read in Google Reader, so there’s a disconnect that I should probably fix one day. I used to read in Bloglines, and then they matched up, but I don’t like the options for how Google Reader presents as a sidebar, so the reading and the rolling are separate.

    1. Interesting about the Bloglines vs. Google Reader differences for sidebars. I’m not sure that has a comparable option for blogroll sidebar widgets. (They don’t tend to like javascript that is not maintained directly by WordPress.)

  9. I used to have, and keep updated, an extensive blog roll. Then I got lazy on updating it, and then it was so not reflective of what I was reading (once I started using Bloglines–before that I used my blogroll) that I just got rid of it, intending to revamp it, and then…haven’t. I never really sent anybody traffic that way, anyway. I’m more likely to look at the blogs of commenters if I am looking for more blogs than I am to look at blogrolls anyway.

    1. Ah, the laziness on updating. Really, I do understand. I am a sloth.

      I do like looking at commenters, too. But I also find that different genres of blogs don’t have equal numbers of commenters. I read some great blogs that get very few comments. (Come to think of it, I should explore their blogrolls more often. I haven’t lately.)

  10. Well, I’m newish to blogging and found that long lists of blogs on other people’s websites were a bit daunting. Where to start looking? I could spend hours just clicking through and reading a post or two to get a feel for a blogger. So when I tossed up a blogroll I only did a tiny sample of the ones I was reading then (and I’ve significantly increased the number I’m reading since), divided them into general categories, and gave a wee bit of info about them (if you hover over the link it has a brief blurb) to save potential readers some time. Some blog titles, like mine, give zero indication of what the blog is about.

    I’ve been thinking for a while that I need to at least add more of the regular blogs I read into it. Like yours! (And, thank you for your comments, too!) I’ve also started on a layout revamp, so am currently thinking I will include the update in one hit. Whenever that is. Hopefully soon.

    While my initial reason for blogging was for creating a record for my kids, I really enjoy the social aspect of interacting with other bloggers. I keep having thoughts of topics more meaty than my kids’ latest cute stories, but they take a lot more effort to write properly, which is tough when time is short. Speaking of which…I need to stop now!

    1. Quadelle-
      I get what you say about the long lists being rather daunting. I like the idea of categorizing blogs, and I’ve thought about doing that as well. (And yeah, my blog title doesn’t give too much insight into my content, either….)

      I also know what you mean about having trouble finding the time to address more meaty topics. I’ve tried to set the goal of doing that about once a month, though I have not quite managed that frequency of late. I typically keep a meaty (or perhaps just a high-protein vegetarian) post on the backburner for several weeks before I actually post it, too. I’ll often write much of it in my head at times when I can’t type. (When I should be thinking about research…)

  11. A,

    Blogrolls are weird. That’s it, I’m just saying it. I think they are very 2005 or something, before Reader existed. In fact, I’ve forgotten about my blogroll till just now, till just this damn minute. I realize i don’t use it and never add to it, and in doing so might have inadvertently pissed off someone else.

    Perhaps it’s me. If you can’t care for something you have no business declaring it. In fact, I think I am going to ponder this deeply. I might delete the blogroll. My blogroll is my reader, where i lovingly gaze at all of you but it’s a private love rather than a grafitti sort of love.

    Is that it?



    1. jen-
      I think you just called me quaint and outdated! Good. I’m glad to hear from this viewpoint. And deleting the blogroll makes sense if you have stopped tending to it.


  12. I am a blogroll slacker. I used to have one through that featured five blogs on a randomly rotating basis, but the blogrolling site was compromised so I took my ‘roll down and haven’t figured out how I want to re-institute it yet.

    I actually really appreciate blogrolls, and feel badly that I haven’t gotten around to putting one back up. I struggle with the issue of keeping it managable, because I want to give a nod to the blogs I read regularly, but feel that links tend to be “buried” when a blog roll gets too big. On the other hand, I don’t want to alienate anyone by not including them, even if I don’t read them regularly. It’s a conundrum.

    1. Rima-
      That issue of manageability seems to be the tricky one. I totally agree that links get buried. I know (from looking at the stats the WordPress gives me) that people look through my blogroll, but I most often see the links for those at the top of the list. Those poor blogs starting with W probably almost never see a visitor from my site. And I totally don’t want to alienate people.

      I guess I’m leaning towards doing some sort of categorization of the links, to break them into reasonable chunks. A few of the blogs I read do that. Of course, I then have to commit to some sort of categorization. Ugh. Maybe I’ll sort the blogs by hair color of the blogger. That would be informative, right?

  13. I’m terrible at keeping my blogroll up to date, but I do like having one. I want visitors to be able to see who else I’m paying attention to if they’re curious.

    I don’t keep it on my front page, though. Part of that is just because I couldn’t get the widget to let me lay out the list the way I wanted to — and I’m nothing if not ridiculously controlling — and part of it is that I don’t want to see Joycelyn’s ‘In Memoriam’ blog every time I got to my page. It makes me sad.

    I think you are the first person who added me to her blogroll, and I have to say, it made me feel really great. I know that I haven’t put every person who has listed me on their blog onto my b’roll. Some of the people who’ve added me confuse me … like the really angry conservative guy who posts a lot of rants and every once in a while links to one of my posts (yikes!) … and the lovely-seeming Italian woman who’s blog I can’t read because it’s, um, in Italian (and I’m too lazy to copy and paste it into the Google translator). I’ll have to think about that one a little more.

    Maybe this weekend I’ll spend a little time updating and cleaning house …

  14. I had to check if I was in the 47 and I’m not! I must immediately bump that number to 48! Aaaand, done.

    Now, after doing that I realize my blogroll is SADLY out of date. I used to use it as a reader, before I discovered a real reader. I’d click through my blogroll every day…but as that purpose left, so did my habit of keeping it fresh. I think I’ll update it tonight, though.

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