On Linking and Blogrolls II

Jesus H. Christ, people.

1) My blogroll was/is over 200 blogs long. Some of you found it useful to find other bloggers and others find it difficult to navigate a list of links 200 blogs long with only names and no descriptions, which is why I

2) Regularly provide a list of links of notable blogs and posts that I find inspirational or thoughtful or notable in some way or another. I realize that some are interested in perusing my list of links, which is why I

3) Provided a link at the top of the page to my current reading list of blogs. Which remains around 200 blogs long.

4) Someone is convinced that my assertion that my dial-up connection impedes my blog reading enjoyment, including loading my own blog, is a load of crap. Right now on my free internet service, I am pushing about 51 Kbps. You try loading up a list like that several times a day, deciding to wander about the house or play Freecell until the damn thing has loaded. I could load this blog all to hell with bells and whistles that are fun and exciting for my readers, but I couldn’t enjoy it.

5) Several have accused me of deleting the blogroll because I am bitter that I’m not higher ranked. Sounds a lot like the criticism revolving around the Where Are The Women Bloggers? question, doesn’t it? One might also notice that in addition to removing the blogroll, I also removed the links to Technorati and TTLB. Gross oversight, no?

6) Frankly, I’m trying to convince myself to continue with blogging at all. I don’t care about the rankings, I care about the discussion, and questions of ethos aside, a static list of links doesn’t do much for discussion. How I ended up in the ranks that I did is baffling to me and sometimes, as in times like this, I wish I weren’t so highly ranked. Which is why I

7) Don’t mind being delinked.

But it seems instead that the accusations surrounding my removing the blogroll are in fact bitterness about rankings and visibility. Considering that I do my best to provide links and visibility on what I consider meritable or of interest to my general readership, and considering that I directed everyone to the link to my blogines account (all of which is public) at the top of the page, and considering that I regularly allow others to post on my blog, I think these feelings of anger directed at me are unfair.

Such silly drama.

My feelings on the discussion surrounding my blog and blogroll are perfectly summed up by the comments by Michelle of JMP at Krista’s blog.

She writes (here and here):

Why should other bloggers have the authority to place obligations on a blog owner of what they should do w/their space? Even in the name of “a cause.” Peer pressure and strong-arming in the blogosphere is not the way to retain contributors to a cause.

…Most people are too interested in being read to alienate themselves by removing the blogroll. While it’s obviously a helpful referential tool, if 95% of blogland is running a blogroll, those who choose to discontinue it shouldn’t be held culpable for the imagined breakdown of communication in the blogosphere.

Dorothea Salvo responds with my exact sentiments on the unseemly adoration of blogrolls:

I lost my blogroll some time ago (though like Lauren’s, it’s still sort-of available as a link to my public Bloglines subscriptions — and before you ask, all but my ego-searches are public). I did it because I had it made crystal-clear to me that blogrolls (and, more specifically, the act of removing someone from a blogroll) can exert a style of social control that I just don’t want any part of.

I’m not sure we should discuss the social positives of blogrolls without also discussing the social negatives.

Shelley has also responded to the criticism she has received since I revived the whole debate.

Anyhow, with the amount of protest I’ve received in removing the blogroll, including a comment left by Bitch Ph.D. at Roxanne’s and a thoughtful post by Pig at Epigraph, I will bring it back in some form or another.

But it will take time. I have to figure out a way to keep it useful for me as well. After all, this site is my endeavor.

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40 comments for “On Linking and Blogrolls II

  1. May 6, 2005 at 4:10 pm

    I really think it’s ok to remove the blogroll — this is a kind of artform, after all, and doing it your way is a good thing. I think it’s a matter of being discomfited by having some people change the steps in the middle of the dance, and it’s hard for all the rest of us bopping around on the floor to figure out what to do next.

  2. Espahan
    May 6, 2005 at 4:12 pm


    The readers who enjoy your commentary, moi, will keep coming for more. Do what you have to do. It’s your blog.

  3. May 6, 2005 at 4:13 pm

    I hear what you are saying, Lauren, and I think you do an incredibly good job of constantly highlighting blogs in your posts everyday.

    That you feel attacked because of your decision is unfortunate. I wrote a post about what I think are the merits of blogrolling, but I don’t think it is something to attack people over.

  4. May 6, 2005 at 4:14 pm

    By the way, if you stopped blogging, THAT would be the really unfortunate thing.

  5. May 6, 2005 at 4:17 pm

    It funny how a blog can be like a public utility, isn’t it?

  6. May 6, 2005 at 4:17 pm

    I still don’t understand where this leaves shitty writers like myself who post nothing of general interest, and the notoriety and fame we so richly deserve to have drizzled on us from our betters. I guess that’s what open mic night is for!

    And if you don’t like exerting social control, then obviously you didn’t sit at that cafeteria table in high school with all the other people in dental headgears. YOU CAN’T EAT A FILET-O-FISH WITH A HEADGEAR. I TRIED.

  7. B
    May 6, 2005 at 4:30 pm

    Let me get this straight. You’re getting static from people who don’t like what YOU’RE doing with YOUR weblog?


    These people need to get a fucking life. With a double side order of clue.

    If I may make a suggestion, I think you should offer anyone unhappy with your weblog exactly the way you choose to present it an immediate and full refund of their admission fee.

  8. May 6, 2005 at 4:33 pm

    I don’t know about the whole bandwidth and dial-up issue, but the thing that made me cringe at the whole discussion was the way Shelley seemed to put off everyone who /did/ have a blogroll. I think a lot of people got the impression that Shelley was looking down her nose at them for having a blogroll and it’s /that/ that a lot of people were responding to.

    True, a lot were responding for selfish reasons, too, but I think the bigger response was that. It’s a lot like what Michelle was saying, only in the reverse. Who’s Shelley to tell all of us that our blogrolls hurt the community?

    Like I said in my own blog, I think I understand the spirit of what Shelley was trying to say, but I also think that she missed the mark and in doing so, irritated a lot of people. Probably for no good reason, too.

    Keep it, remove it, make it shorter, make it longer. If there’s any caring that needs to be done about this, it’s whether or not blogrolls really /do/ hurt the community. That is the greater discussion here.

  9. May 6, 2005 at 4:33 pm

    Norbiz, I had a headgear as a kid. Don’t make fun.

  10. May 6, 2005 at 4:44 pm

    Hey, when I was a kid, we couldn’t afford orthodontia, and I got the poor kid’s fix: yanking teeth until they all fit, sorta. I envied my peers with headgear.

    But it’s true that I did sometimes snort milk out my nose watching them try to eat at lunchtime.

  11. May 6, 2005 at 4:49 pm

    I can’t believe you’re getting such shit over a friggen blogroll. If you don’t, personally, see the utility of maintaining one on your blog then don’t. If you do, then do so. It’s a pretty simple decision isn’t it?

  12. May 6, 2005 at 4:50 pm

    I think the idea of you ditching the blog roll out of envy or bitterness is just absurd. You link to other people all the time, and let other people post on your own blog. duh. I was alarmed when I read the post, because I like blog rolls, even though they can become cliquish. But like you said, it’s YOUR BLOG. and the dial up thing is a bitch, people.

  13. May 6, 2005 at 4:54 pm

    Lauren, I’m sorry.

    My post was meant in fun, and I see that I missed the “fun” target by a mile. It is your site to do with as you choose, and you consistently do good with it. All the nice things I said about you in my original post were 100 percent heartfelt. I”m sorry that my intent – poking slightly in the ribs, and discussing my disagreement with Shelley’s “hurting all of us” Stewartism – misfired so badly.

    I do disagree with the notion that blogrolls are inherently bad, but I think it’s great that the subject is being discussed.

    Anyway, I’m posting a retraction and an apology at my site. I would feel rotten if my own stupidity helped you decide not to blog, especially when you have been so gracious to me in the past. Again, I’m sorry.

  14. May 6, 2005 at 5:10 pm

    You could try sticking it in the sidebar of your Disclaimer page :)

  15. May 6, 2005 at 5:13 pm

    As I have said in both Shelley’s blog and my own, I responded to what I felt was a very strongly expressed sentiment. My decision to remove links was a statement in response to those sentiments. The whole thing was about links so I used links to respond. I suspect I’m not the only one following that logic – as Creek Running North’s comments suggest.

    Shelley is fine to critize my idea of blogging (i.e, that a blog without comments or a blogroll is not one I’m inclined to read) – as I am to criticize hers or yours. We all have our own opinions about what we’re doing with our blogs and what is community oriented or not. My feeling is that blogs that do not enable commenting do not invite participation. Participation is a defining aspect of blogging as a form of participatory media. It differentiates it, especially comments, from a mainstream media that does not allow us to participate or respond to the information in the very forum in which it is published (that’s changing of course thanks to blogs). Blogrolls are another aspect of the participatory nature of blogs but our blogrolls act to guide others towards voices we like or want to promote. We are participating in establishing a voice/blog.

    But your contributions and Shelleys are without question and for that alone I have reflected on my original and rash response to remove links. I realise it makes no difference to either of you – BTW. I’ve just done it in the spirit of reflection. I could ‘stand my ground’ but I’ve been presented with new information. that new information has made me change my mind.

  16. May 6, 2005 at 5:17 pm

    If you had said, “I’m removing this because of bandwidth” and left it at that… If you had said, “This lengthy list looks like crap and I’m removing it for aesthetic reasons” and left it at that… then I wouldn’t have mentioned you at all.

    But, you made it entirely clear that you agree with the idea that links hurt people, which is so completely disconnected from reality that I’m still shocked that *you* endorsed the idea.

    “I think these feelings of anger directed at me are unfair.” Well, I think it’s entirely unfair for you to tell so many in your audience that they are “hurtful” in linking to others, while, in the same entry, requesting that they help you out.

  17. david benke
    May 6, 2005 at 5:18 pm

    here’s what i say: it’s your site. do whatever you want. i do know this: i got to this site, and started reading it regularly, because of roxanne, who i found via matt yglesias, who i found via atrios, who i heard about on c-span in approximately august of 2004. now, that’s not to say the blogroll had anything to do with any of that. atrios linked to posts by big media matt; matt linked to posts by roxanne; roxanne mocked michelle malkin on april fool’s day, including a series of really cool spoofed blog ads, and i clicked on one of the links that led me here, and i liked what i saw. i still like what i see, and i like that it changes. i like that it’s honest. the blogroll matters not, to me, at this site. but i also read bitch. phd., and she makes valid points that i can’t argue with and won’t attempt to. my only position is this: the site’s owner does with her site as she pleases, because it is her site to do with as she pleases, and no one else’s.

    i also have a dial up connection, so i sympathize with long load times. it’s a pain. earlier today, i tried to load roxanne’s site, and it stopped less than halfway there, before any posts loaded, other than, of course, the blogroll, which isn’t why i read her site. i refreshed and it loaded properly, after awhile. so there are certainly practical reasons for doing what you’ve done. on the other hand, i never would have ever read a blog like sadly, no! if it weren’t for atrios’ blogroll, and yet, because of the blogroll, i did. the same, actually, goes for pandagon. but that’s really beside the point.

  18. La Lubu
    May 6, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    Your blog, your rules. I’m cool with that. I’ll just miss it ‘cuz it was easy to find new reading material!

    Folks, she’s not kidding about the dial-up issue. I went to the “links” section that has replaced the blogroll, and clicked in the middle of the alphabet for the bloglines feed. It took me two tries; on the second time it loaded, but took five minutes. And that’s just to read a small part of the blogline feed! That’s why I don’t have or read RSS feeds; until such time comes when I can afford the fifty bucks a month for cable access, it just takes too damn much time. It takes less time to just click on the link on either my blog sidebar, or my bookmarks.

    Like it or not, this will probably be a trend. It’ll just take longer for newcomers to blogs to get a list of “regular stops”, is all. Instead of a month, it’ll be six months, or a year. Which I guess is ok. I know I’ll still be surfing blogs a year from now! ;-)

  19. May 6, 2005 at 6:33 pm

    It’s your blog — do with it as you will. That goes for everyone. Anyone who declares that there is one ‘way’ to blog irritates me. A blog, or a livejournal, is a tool, in the final assessment, not a way of life in itself, for all that the two get so often conflated.

    About the slow load — as someone who also works off dialup, I find that if I put the roll (or any other data that is hosted by an outside source) in the column that loads last, I can stop the load mid-page and read the posts and comments just fine, without waiting for the blogroll.

    But I don’t use bloglines, just hand-entered lists, so it might not work for everyone. Just an fyi for anyone with the same problem who doesn’t want to lose the blogroll.

  20. Sarah
    May 6, 2005 at 6:43 pm

    Maybe I’m out of the loop here, because I always thought that blogrolls were to share information that a blogger thought pertinant with the like minded people that read their blog in one conveniant area. I found this site though a blogroll. Actually I found almost my blogs through blogrolls, only maybe two or three though blogs people linked to in individual posts. Removing a blogroll is one’s choice but I gotta say it comes off to those of us who don’t know and dont care about the politics behind it as a “our web community might become exclusive if we define who we like and agree with so we’re just not going to centralize who we like and dismantle any attempt at community all together rather then see it potentially become limited”. It kinda seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater to me. Blogrolls are conveniant, and I think that if bloggers remove the parts of their blogs that are conveniant and accessable to everyone then the only ones left at your blog will be a small number of super hard working completely like-minded individuals, which is what you seem to want to prevent in the first place. But its your blog, do whatever you want with it. I’ll still read it, even though I think this whole blogroll thing is silly at best, and derranged at worst.

  21. May 6, 2005 at 7:00 pm

    Yeah, I’m sorry if my post resulted in you getting yelled at, and I thought the “well if you don’t have a blogroll I won’t link you then” stuff was petty, to be honest. Though I think it’s the same kind of purist impulse that’s behind Shelley’s post, too–the idea that one must Take A Symbolic Stand. I see what blogrolls are good for; I don’t see how they really do harm to the things that matter to us (especially not blogrolls like yours); I think the whole all or nothing thing is silly and pyrrhic and damaging.

    So whether you do it w/ a public bloglines subscription and a link, or however it ends up happening, I’m glad you’re gonna have some kind of a blogroll. :)

    Hey, a thought–wonder if you could bleg enough for something other than dialup….?

  22. May 6, 2005 at 8:46 pm

    My main problem is that people beg to be put on my blogroll and I just want to keep it to the handful of blogs I think need more readers. As usual, I strike a blow for the pragmatic approach–if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I have a blogroll and I make sure that everyone on it is a smaller blogger who needs more attention. But that is my strategy, and it isn’t necessarily a good one for everyone.

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  24. May 6, 2005 at 10:07 pm

    Somebody call the LOSER POLICE on all the whiners here.

  25. May 6, 2005 at 10:24 pm

    do what ya like feministe. i’ve got bookmarks in my browser. i like your posts. i’ll still check you out.

    bookmarks! we don’t all have to have blogrolls do we?

    sorry if i seem cranky about this blogroll thing. it seems unimportant to me. i couldn’t possibly follow 200 blogs. i’m impressed that anyone can.

    i’m with the folks that say it’s your place. i’d say you don’t have to comment on changes if you don’t want to.

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  27. May 6, 2005 at 11:09 pm

    My main problem with my own blogroll is that, once I’ve added someone, I feel as if I’ll hurt their feelings terribly if I ever remove them, and so the list grows without bounds, and I find it’s full of people who haven’t actually posted anything in a year, and I start using other people’s shorter blogrolls in preference to mine. I think I fixed this by losing a lot of the inactive blogs when I moved to WordPress, and dividing things up into categories to make it more manageable, but I can understand your frustration with yours, and the dialup issue. I’ll miss it, and I hope you eventually bring it back in some form, but do what works for you and your blog.

    That said, I definitely don’t think blogrolls are hurting us, I do use them to find new blogs, and I also use Technorati all the time without ever having looked at its top 100.

  28. CKR
    May 6, 2005 at 11:40 pm

    At WhirledView, we’ve been debating the function of a blogroll and recently pared ours ‘way down.

    I’m mainly the one in WV who wanders the blogosphere, and all three of us are new to blogging. We enjoy writing, and of course we enjoy being read, which is why we write, although not entirely.

    Lauren was the first to link to us (except for a couple of friends who put us on their blogrolls), very exciting and we will never forget. I’m still wondering how she found us, or how others found us for that matter, as our readership grows. Some are people we know or people we have linked to, but I keep being surprised by how many find us who are completely new.

    I’ve been following this debate and have recommended it to my co-bloggers, but we haven’t come up with anything definitive. Maybe at our next meeting in a week or two…

    I enjoy Bear’s ecosystem, but the lack of a transparent algorithm (or have I just missed it?) makes me question its value. Has he (note, he) tilted it towards the kinds of thing he favors (even if that’s just numbers of links) explicitly or less thoughtfully? And I’ve noticed that Technorati, Bear, and others don’t pick up all the links.

  29. May 7, 2005 at 12:20 am

    Lauren, I tried to email you and it bounced back… do you have a legit email address?

  30. May 7, 2005 at 4:55 am

    I don’t know why I’m bothering as I’ve alrady been told that as I’ve only had my blog for 6 months then my thoughts don’t count on Shelley’s blog.

    Whether or not you have a blogroll is none of my concern. What I object to is Shelley’s telling people they shouldn’t have their’s – and that is certainly the tone I got from her post (as a @you should….’ rather than a ‘I think that…’), whether she agrees with it or not. But, as she says,if people think blogrolls hurt them, then I’ll take them off mine. I still don’t understand the reasoning (well, I understand th bandwidth one) behins this action at all.

    These are my last thoughts on the matter other than to say I don’t really appreciate being attacked and not being allowed to respond when I feel someone is making a demand on bloggers for reasons I don’t follow. I don’t care about my ratings but I do care about linking to people I read and making connections, which I think is the primary function of my blogroll.

  31. jam
    May 7, 2005 at 8:23 am

    what the dickeny-dang-dickens is a blogroll anyhow?

    i read many a blog & have had little to no consciousness of blogrolls – i’m assuming they’re the ridiculously long lists of links in eensy-teensy fonts that folks usually stick along one sidebar or another – people really wade through those things? good gravy beejeezum! and i thought i spent too much time on the pooter!

    after all the insightful writing Ms. Lauren has done – all the articles & debates & issues she has examined & discussed & provided a space for others to discuss – THIS is what folks choose to focus on?

    methinks some folks might benefit from a re-telling of the timeless tale of the tempest in a teapot

  32. jam
    May 7, 2005 at 8:36 am

    and another thing:

    the fabulous Ms. Jessamyn West has been maintaining a “blog” since before there was a (ugly phlegmy) word for it

    anyone care to go tell her she’s doesn’t count b/c she doesn’t have a “blogroll”? go ahead – i dare you. i hope you do. because i love to hear Jessamyn laugh.

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  34. May 7, 2005 at 12:39 pm

    I’m so ignorant I don’t know what the hell a blog roll is. Ignorance is sometimes such bliss.

  35. May 7, 2005 at 4:55 pm


    I hope I did not contribute to your feeling of seige. Maybe I should have amplified this, but I tried to be clear that I was saying only that “I … disagree with [Lauren’s] conclusion … that blogrolls are counterproductive” (emphasis added). In other words, I wanted to avoid taking issue with what you do with your blog (which is, of course, personal to you) and do not think you have any obligation to have a blogroll (and, I should add, your links to Stone Court in posts have indeed been appreciated). I just wanted to disagree with your underlying conclusion in the hope that others considering removing their blogrolls would consider the other side of the issue.

  36. May 7, 2005 at 8:00 pm

    my head is still spinning from all of the controversy surround a list of links being moved — not removed, just moved.

    good lord.

  37. May 7, 2005 at 8:17 pm

    Marie, because by opting out of the link/rank system, I’m denying rank to those who are within the system. That my blogroll now lies in bloglines means that although other bloggers may get some exposure should readers peruse it (though it is questionable how many peruse a static blogroll of that size), this kind of exposure as opposed to the traditional doesn’t pay off in the ranks.

    I’m waiting to see what kinds of systems readers believe they will use and whether or not I can implement them.

  38. May 7, 2005 at 8:31 pm

    Hon, it is your blog and people really need to get a grip. A blogroll is nothing more than a bunch of links. It is not some kind of award or proof of self-worth … regardless of what people think. My blogroll is for me. If I keep it or remove it, it is my business. It is my site. Just as this is your site and you can do whatever you want with it.

    And, I personally don’t care if you have a blogroll or if I am on it. You are on mine because I like to read you and I like my links handy. :)

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