More blog, less roll

With apologies to those whose juice (or whatever) may be reduced by it, I’ve deep-sixed the blogroll. As a move this was long overdue. The ‘roll on my old blog had grown longer than Dumbledore’s beard, and was just as antique. When I moved the blog over here I carried along mixed feelings about having a blogroll at all, and then went through lots of uncomfortable questions about whose blogs go on it, in which order, and so on.

I don’t have time to explain much more at the moment, so here are the reasons I just gave in an email to a reader who asked me about it (while also providing some very good advice):

Fact is, it’s outlived its usefulness. I hardly use it. Others pay more attention to it than I do, and too often for selfish and/or trivial reasons. Maintaining it takes effort far out of proportion to its value. Blogrolling itself looks like advertising, gatekeeping, or both. Feh. Worst of all, it’s not live. It’s a stale relic of blogging’s origins in the Static Web era. Time to move on.

For what little it’s worth, I’ve sometimes been credited with coining the term “blogrolling”. But that was 10,000 blog years ago, before we had RSS and Live Web search engines that index everything posted within seconds, plus countless other ways to assist and participate in the public polylog.

I’m open to suggestions for what other things I might put in my sidebars. Guidance: I’d like it to be live, or at least current, engaged in Conversations, and (perhaps even) fun.

45 comments

  1. Crosbie Fitch’s avatar

    How about some of the most recent comments?

    It depends if you’re publishing a journal or having a conversation.

  2. Mike Warot’s avatar

    I’d like an RSS feed of every thing you spent more than 1 minute reading, AND found to be at least worth twice the time it took to read it.

    I bet YOU would like it too… for digging back in time to find where you read stuff.

  3. Mike Warot’s avatar

    Oh… and a feed of ALL of the comments you’ve left scattered out across the web…

  4. Dave Mastio’s avatar

    For obviously selfless reasons, let me suggest a widget you can add that will give you links to the ten latest posts from a bunch of good blogs on the future of news: http://www.blognetnews.com/newsinnovation/add-bnn.php

    The main page is here: http://www.blognetnews.com/newsinnovation — if you think there are important blogs we are missing, we’ll happily add them.

  5. Kevin Marks’s avatar

    I don’t know if you use Google Reader, but the ‘share’ button on that makes a feed of things you’ve read and liked recently. You can embed this in blog sidebars – see my blog for an example.

  6. Markus Pirchner’s avatar

    “Recent comments” would certainly emphasize the conversational character; for the folksonomists a tag list or tag cloud would come in handy. As an RSS ‘junkie’ non of that really bothers me :-)

  7. Dave Winer’s avatar

    I like emptiness. I’m getting ready to empty out the right margin of my blog. Whitespace all the way! :-)

  8. Sheila Lennon’s avatar

    I’m sorry to see your blogroll go, not because I was on it but because I used it as a discovery tool.

    These were lateral paths that make the Web a web.

    My own blogroll is archaic, a museum piece, but I still see clicks off it, probably for the same reason — someone who likes my blog hopes to discover other blogs they’ll like.

    What more modern widget would take over that referral function, and answer the question of at least some readers, “Where should I go from here?”

    (I’m hopelessly old-fashioned in that regard — I came up in a newsroom at a time when serving the reader was the prime directive.)

  9. Rob Clark’s avatar

    While I admit it’s been many moons since I last glanced at your own blogroll, I will miss it as I’ve used them myself to get a sense of whom I should be paying attention to. A discovery tool, as other commentators have said.

    A feed to what you’re reading currently reading, as Mike said, would be a nice substitute and much more current. Something like the ‘shared items’ in Google Reader.

  10. W.B. McNamara’s avatar

    Excellent thoughts thus far. I’m not a particularly big fan of recent comments in a sidebar: as Crosbie Fitch points out, it does emphasize that there’s a conversation happening, but in practical terms such a small, out of context excerpt of each comment appears I don’t usually find the practice too useful.

    I love the idea of including your participation in discussions elsewhere, though as far as I know there isn’t a simple existing way to do that. It’s certainly possible (via Yahoo pipes or a relatively simple script) in cases where comment feeds are available, but there’d still be a fair amount of manual overhead in indicating which comment feeds to monitor and for how long. Hmmm…very interesting potential, though.

    My approach on seamonkeyrodeo has been to use del.icio.us as a sort of annotated linkblog: full posts go in the main column and del.icio.us links (link plus a sentence or two of comment) go in the right-hand column.

    What I intend to do in the not-too-distant future is build a blogroll that actually “rolls.” My primary feed reader is FeedDemon, which already tracks which feeds I’m currently paying the most attention to; I’ll pull that data, extract the site URLs, and the resulting list is a dynamic blogroll that doesn’t require additional effort on my part to maintain. Could do something similar with browser history, too, I suppose, though more filtering to remove the noise of daily life would be required.

  11. Doc Searls’s avatar

    These are all great suggestions. Love it. Thanks!

  12. Crosbie Fitch’s avatar

    Instead of the N most recent comments, one could have the N most highly ranked commenters.

    Let’s say it was possible to measure how many times a commenter’s website URL was followed by a unique IP address.

    One presumes that good/interesting comments inspire more people to check the author’s site out.

    1) Spiders would treat everyone equally so can be ignored.
    2) Spammers only want to promote spam URLs – which can be banned by domain (assuming they’ve been clicked by an IP farm).
    3) Mass sock-puppets/groupies will make their commenter prone to demotion as their comments noticeably lack the merit they would otherwise obtain. One can also automatically demote in inverse proportion to an external blogger ranking metric.

    So, this would effectively be an audience generated blog-roll – and most likely still apposite to the blog owner.

    The ranking obtained in this way measures ‘interestingness’, i.e. a commenter who most inspired readers to check them out.

    Could call it a “Curiosity Shop”, or ‘Curiosity Pops’?

  13. Pat Patterson’s avatar

    How about the last N links you posted – this would be a simple extract from your recent posts, like a constantly updating mini-blogroll.

  14. jeneane’s avatar

    I used your blogroll a lot too. It was long, and long is good. It said “these people are interesting to doc” and that meant something.

    Yes it takes time to click the ‘add to blogroll’ link on blogrolling.com, but not THAT much time. It’s as live as you want it to be, especially since blogs with new posts can be ‘asterisked’ to show they’ve been updated.

    Ah well, I’m sure you’ll come up with something cool and effective to encourage the conversation. Hopefully something that features new voices on a regular basis. Just like you did when you put me on yours six years ago. Or was it 10,000? ;-)

  15. Shelley’s avatar

    Doc, whatever you do, PLEASE don’t fill your sidebar with a lot of widgets and external feed applications. Those things slow page accesses down to the point of making the site unusable.

    Recent comments is good if you want to accentuate discussion.

    Maybe one link to one external something, such as your delicious links or that Google Reader thing.

    Perhaps some of your pictures?

  16. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    I actually READ my blogroll. Isn’t that the point?

  17. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Russ, reading my own blogroll was something I did much more in the old days than more recently. (The single exception to that was the Santa Barbara blog list that still sits atop the blogroll of my now-mothballed old blog.) These days most of my reading angles off syndicated searches for subjects of current interest, or from personal referrals, or from just hunting around, as my attention swings like Tarzan through the jungle of links and threads.

    But while my own interest in my own blogroll declined, the interest of others went through an unhappy change: it became meaningful in a political way: who was on and off of it mattered. To some people I was making a statement, or issuing endorsements, or being a gatekeeper, or otherwise using the blogroll to manage an agenda of some kind. The list goes on. Given that junk, as well as the other reasons I listed in the post, it seemed to me that there should be many other uses to which that space could be put — including, as Dave Winer suggested, white space.

    Shelley, those are good points. I’d like to run photos, but think the Flickr widget would probably slow access down. That true? Not sure.

  18. Synesthesia » No more Sources page’s avatar

    [...] I notice that a much-more-famous-than-I blogger has been having similar thoughts… TagsAwasu bloglines blogrolls  del.icio.us Share This Cite as:Elve, J. E. (Sep 14, 2007). [...]

  19. Kathy Sierra’s avatar

    This isn’t about agreeing or disagreeing with the positions and opinions of those blogs on your blogroll, it’s about whether you’re willing to lend credibility, respect, and tacit approval to what others post, without being able/willing to keep up with what they write. When you and I spoke on the phone about this, the KEY point for me is that you said you were not actually *reading* what was on a lot of the blogs you were linking to, because of time constraints.

    I think you made a good decision. I was never willing to keep a blogroll because I, too, knew I wouldn’t have the time to keep up with what was happening on those blogs, and my readers perceieved my links as an endorsement, regardless of my intention.

    So, I appreciate your blogroll decision. I vote whitespace and/or most recent comments. Some usability designers would say that the Flickr widget is a distraction — your eye is pulled to the photos and has to struggle to ignore them and read the text on the left.

  20. jeneane’s avatar

    I vote for “new voices” – some constantly updated “roll” of blog links (is that better? I won’t call it a ‘blogroll’) for helping raise awareness about new or non-technorati-non-heavy-hitters.

    NOT linking to new people or avoiding “endorsing” someone as a good read (because it’s too hard to keep up or too scary to track what they might be saying) seems more gatekeeperish and business-as-usual to me.

    You could put your blogroll back and actually READ those blogs. (I skip through mine every couple weeks or when I see someone interesting has updated). But that’s up to you.

    Or, since it’s so hard to keep up, perhaps we should just get rid of hyperlinks altogether and write only link-less posts. That is safe, fair, and quick.

    Or we could stop posting and go back to reading books, checking in online once in a while to read email or twitter.

    Yes, the more I think about it, Books and Twitter.

    Books and Twitter is the answer. What was the question?

    Doc, don’t make me call you ;-)

  21. Harvey Morrell’s avatar

    I’d like to see a couple of your flickr pics on the sidebar.

  22. Shelley’s avatar

    Well, Doc, I wrote another comment and it didn’t appear. Hopefully this one will.

    I can agree with your decision on your blogroll because I dropped mine long ago. When people publish something that I want to share, I link to it and add commentary in my post. That way, the link shows up even if the person only views the feed.

    When I did have a blogroll, though, I usually added a person because I connected with them in some way, and not always because I agreed with them. Too much of such insular thinking in this enviroment as it is.

    It really is up to each individual. As for your sidebar, Flickr is a problem. If you want to display your photos, I can add a bit of php to your sidebar in your template that will randomly select a photo from a directory to display each time the page is accessed. Let me know.

  23. Karl’s avatar

    Like Jeneane, I like blogrolls.

    But mine now points to whoever I am subscribed to in Bloglines.

    That way it insures it reflects who I am reading and conversing with.

    I also dump the latest links I’ve bookmarked in del.icio.us, but don’t know if anyone really cares about that stuff.

    One of the features I see in place of blogrolls are latest comment postings. In a community like Shelley’s – a feature like that rocks.

  24. jeneane’s avatar

    The problem with only linking in posts, though, is that posts disappear past “the fold” in a matter of days. What, then, on your blog says: INSTEAD OF LOOKING AT ME ALL THE TIME, these people are also verrry Interesting. (And I concur with Shelley–a link does not mean “i like this person because they think like me!”)

    The blogroll–I don’t care whether you put it on the front page sidebar, the third page, use a widget, or hand craft it out of wood–expands conversation in a wonderful and organic way.

    Show me a better way of doing that.

  25. Long Delayed Echoes » Blog Archive » Buh-Bye Blogroll’s avatar

    [...] Doc explained it much better than I — his post really nailed it. [...]

  26. Tom Shugart’s avatar

    Well, it was bound to happen, but it saddens me nonetheless. I’m with Jeneane 100% on this one. I’ve discovered so much over the years from other blogger’s rolls–especially the comprehensive ones like your (sigh) former one. Which reminds me, I’ve got to re-activate mine–which got deep-sixed when I changed formats. I think it’s worth the effort, despite the existence of all the newer whiz-bang alternatives.

  27. Jon Garfunkel’s avatar

    If the idea of a blogroll is to give props to your community, well, yes, most certainly the problem is that it doesn’t stay up to date, it doesn’t reflect your actual engaged readership (i.e., present company), and it doesn’t communicate anything dynamic.

    What you need is the inverse of a weblog. A weblog, by definition, is original posts that you write to us. So you need to supply a way for the readers (natch, the people formerly known as…) to send hyperlinks to you. At present, you must get a number of people sending you this link or that, and I suppose you’d like to automate that.

    I described this in 2005 as the Tipster Network, but it hasn’t gotten any traction. It could be as simply as creating a del.icio.us tag to mean “stuff for Doc Searls or his audience to read.” Now, the docsearls may mean “things about Doc Searls”, and the tag for:docsearls is your private inbox. But how come, I asked Josh Schachter, del.icio.us doesn’t have a syntax for a public inbox?

    In the Tipster Network concept, I imagine a larger workflow where you can give speedy endorsements to stuff you read– leaving your primary blog channel for new & original posts.

  28. Zo’s avatar

    I want to see a handcrafted, wooden blogroll.

    Maybe Jeneane was offering to make one?

  29. Zo’s avatar

    My serious comment is … that you are in a very different position, Doc, than most of us, and probably heartily sick of keeping up that long list.

    For me, it’s a small show of respect, support, and suggested reading. A way of saying to my readers, check out Noam Chomsky! Shelley Powers! Okay, maybe not in that order, but you get the drift.

    Fact is, if I come here, anywhere with a long static list, eyes glaze over. Why not a short list of what’s fresh to you? Or, on the other hand, I think you’ve probably paid your dues, blogroll-wise …

  30. Seth Finkelstein’s avatar

    Unlike many of my Z-lister brethren, I soon came to feel that blogrolls were overrated in terms of value to the listees, except perhaps from the very biggest of BigHeads. I understand how people can feel differently, but I believe it’s an (understandable) instance of confusing symbol with substance.

    The problem is this: Being listed as a network-friend of an A-lister does not help much if you are not, in fact, a network-friend of the A-lister. I wouldn’t say it’s zero, since sometimes people copy blogrolls when starting up new blogs. But the traffic is usually trivial, and the Google-juice ration is pretty small for the average listed blog (again, the tippy-top of the power curve is arguably an exception).

    On the other hand, the downsides of blogrolls are becoming more significant for an A-lister. It’s a public “friends” list for a social network. The collection of backscratching and business associates and people-who-must-be-HEARD and sycophants are all on display. It’s kind of embarrassing given the blog-evangelist confidence game of preaching openness and democracy. Plus it must be a hassle dealing with all the requests from Z-listers who want to climb Mount Attention, and know very well that it’s a patronage system.

    At this point in the growth of the blog business (and make no mistake, it’s a market for them, not a “conversation”), the early adopters have generally sold their startups (or it’s clear those startups are in far more trouble than can be helped by a symbolic gesture) or gotten to the social level where all the important people (i.e. the ones the A-lister needs to impress in order to advance further) don’t read anything besides management reports and trade newsletters, certainly not blogs.

    Hence the blogroll overall has become a net negative for them. Expect to see it dropping away more and more in the future as these changes go on.

  31. Shelley’s avatar

    Zo, me and Noam in the same paragraph — heady stuff.

    I’ve been reading this, and must admit to confusion. I didn’t think Doc was asking an opinion about taking the blogroll down or not. The issue is moot, it’s gone. I thought this was more along the lines of “…in place of…”.

    I don’t really care if a person has a blogroll or not. Too many widgets I care about because it causes havoc with Firefox, and then I have to kill my browser. Other than that, I feel it’s up to each individual to do what’s right for their own spaces.

    I imagine that some folk might be concerned about pagerank, but Google’s been downgrading the static sidebar links for a couple of years now. The more sidebar links, the less value each has within Google.

    As for a link implying respect — I have linked to LGF, some white racist site here in Missouri, numerous Republicans, and even Bush once, in addition to, well, everyone on this list I know. A link is just a link. It’s nothing more than markup and internet protocol. It’s the words that go with the link that give it true power.

    However, to repeat myself, whatever floats people’s boats. One thing I brought into this environment is that this is one of the few places where we can express ourselves the way we want without being dictated to. No one can tell us who to read, what to write about, how to write it, what the page design has, or doesn’t have. This was the last frontier of freedom.

    I must admit, though, that the connection between ‘blogroll’ and community has me confused. Community is when you connect with each other at a level that isn’t dependent on tech. Community is when you care, when you listen, when you laugh in the right spots, and don’t when it’s appropriate. A community is when you’re important to each other in ways that go beyond the page. A community props you when you’re down, joins you in celebration, levels you when you’re out of control, and holds your hand when your world crashes in.

    I genuinely respect everyone’s view on blogrolls–why liked, why not liked. I just wish people wouldn’t equate them with community. They aren’t the same.

  32. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Agreed, Shelley. And you’re right that I’m looking for constructive thoughts about what to do with what’s currently white space. Including keeping it. Lots of those from folks. Thanks for them.

    One interesting thing to me is that, for the first time, I have lots of comments to read. Commenting was possible with the old blog, but not to the degree we find here. Just getting used to it.

  33. Kathy Sierra’s avatar

    This discussion gets to the heart of whether we lend credibility and respect to the things we point to–in the absence of, say, a qualifier: “I don’t agree with what this person is saying or how they’re saying it, but I still think you might want to read it…”.

    When Ronni Bennett wrote about some of the groups on Facebook
    http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/2007/07/facebookhateboo.html, she said:
    “…to allow hate speech aimed at any group without calling them out is is a lesson to them of our acceptance.”

    and:
    “As all advertisers know, repetition succeeds. The more an idea is repeated, the more acceptable it becomes.”

    From Wikipedia:
    “Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon that occurs in ambiguous social situations when people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior. Making the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation, they will deem the behavior of others as appropriate or better informed.”

    I’m in favor of those in a position of trust taking responsibility for who and what they tell people to read. Not legal responsibility! But some level of personal, ethical, moral responsibility. Yes, I know that’s an unpopular and controversial position. And yes, this is an old argument that keeps popping up. It’s clear from this comment thread that there’s no easy or clear view on this, and I am far from objective.

  34. Jon Garfunkel’s avatar

    Ah, community, where we connect with each other. Hi, Kaythy. Hi, Doc. Hi, Shelley. Hi, Seth. Hi, Jeneane. Everyone else: hi, hello, nice to meet you, I’ll be following Doc’s blog this year now that he’s moved to Boston, and also after we had a nice long conversation over the phone this summer.

    So, if “repetition succeeds” let me repeat what I said above. A blog is a public outbox (it replaces mass emails), why not accompany it with a public inbox on the side?

    (Let’s face it, you can roll the clock back 10 years and someone could just have easily coined the term “poutbox” for public outbox — unrelated to public outhouse — at a critical juncture instead of “web log”…)

    I haven’t done so myself because irregular Civilities readership is tiny, and as an essayist nobody petitions me for links.

  35. Dean Landsman’s avatar

    Bring back the blogoroll! Take a look at how Frank Paynter handles the issue: he has an alphabetical list (you and I, Doc, made it to the D list; Jeneane made it to the J list; Shelley to the S List and so forth) and only some of the letters of the alphabet appear at any given moment, It seems to cycle or somehow appear in a randomly automated manner. There’s also a list of “look at this bunch right now” links (I forget what he calls it).

    My own blogroll is a way quickly click over to blogs of interest to me. Some are friends, some are people I don’t know but enjoy reading. Some are written by people holding opinions or ideas completely opposite of my own view, but are written well-enough, or hold enough insight or expression of a viewpoint that compels me to both keep it on my blogroll and want to share it with readers of the blogroll.

    Discovering blogs of interest on the blogrolls of others extends the blogversation. That, in and of itself, creates added value in visiting the blogosphere.

    Friends recommend books, music, movies . . . and bloggers recommend reading blogs. Is it an endorsement? Yes, and endorsement of reading, not a tacit approval or subscription to a point of view. I heartily recommend reading anything written by William Safire, although he and I are ideologically polar opposites.

    And let me echo Tom Shugart’s comment (in Jeneane’s comment area on her blog discussing the blogroll issue), with a hat-tip to Seth Finklestein as well: if blogs are somehow rated or calculated in terms of “juice” or whatever by linkage, then you’ve just shot a whole bunch of people in the Technorati authority heart, and the Google Rank stomach.

    I gave up on that and dropped all concern about such matters after my weblogs.com URL went away, and I slowly morphed from there to a short-lived faux blog, to buzzword.com (kudos, still, to Rogers Cadenhead, a mensch!) and finally to my own deanland.com. My Technorati juice dissolved, and yet my hits and referrals increased. So much for metrics.

    Fact is, there is benefit in seeing what is on others’ blogrolls. There is also significance with regard to certain measures of SEO/SEM, Googlejuice, Technoratiness, and Ice Rocketitude. Or just plain buzz and ego to having a listing.

    White space is pretty. Blogrolls are productive.

    Find a design maven, consider what Frank does with his numerous rotating rolls, and bring back something that allows your readers to take a look at other blogs or sites of interest that you would care to share. It adds to the blogversation. And can be done without sacrificing ALL of the white space.

  36. Seth Finkelstein’s avatar

    Shelley, he may not have been asking for an opinion, but we can give one anyway :-).

    Dean, there are currently 373 links on the front page of the old blog. That’s a lot of links. While 0.27 % of the page’s juice isn’t zero, it’s hardly a fatal loss.

    Technorati counts each blog only one for ranking purposes. And it’s dying anyway (it’s important not to confuse any particular manifestion of power-imbalance with the problem itself – specific examples come and go, but the issue remains).

    I was on that blogroll (thanks). It sent me maybe one or two readers a day. Again, all readers gratefully accepted, but that’s not going to make the difference between A-listery or not.

    You have to use the right metrics – it’s a bad error to think that because you’ve used bad metrics and so gotten a nonsensical answer, therefore, the whole idea of metrics is invalid.

    By the way, I believe having your own domain automatically increases your hits and referrals, since many web-spiders are fed with the list of domains. It doesn’t necessarily mean more human readers, just more robots.

  37. Kathy Sierra’s avatar

    I thought Pat’s suggestion was a good, simple one:

    “How about the last N links you posted – this would be a simple extract from your recent posts, like a constantly updating mini-blogroll.”

    And I also like Jon’s ‘public inbox’ idea, a lot.

    I have nothing against blogrolls; it’s the context of a link that matters. I have seen some blogrolls that are categorized… that seems like a good, simple way to have a blogroll and still CYA if readers perceive blogrolls more meaningful than the author intends.

    Everyday Reads/Recommended:

    Occasional/Recommended:

    Interesting-But-Not-An-Endorsement:
    etc…

  38. Doc Searls’s avatar

    I do have regrets about not relaying visits to other bloggers. One of the things I like about blogging is that, at its best, it’s not about stickiness or trapping eyeballs.

    I kept the blogroll at the old blog because it was something of a charming relic. I thought about deleting it or moving it elsewhere, but left it there because it was more like architecture than furniture.

    Here in the new blog, with the flexibility that WordPress affords, I have a lot more choice. Here the blogroll seems more like furniture. I think I can do something more “live” and interesting and, frankly, low-maintenance.

    I like Jon’s inbox idea. I like Shelley’s idea about photos from a database rather than a widget that slows loading and serves as an ad for Flickr. (Though I do like Flickr and appreciate it a great deal.)

    Anyway, thanks for all the ideas. Lot to chew on here.

  39. jeneane’s avatar

    I have nothing against blogrolls; it’s the context of a link that matters. I have seen some blogrolls that are categorized… that seems like a good, simple way to have a blogroll and still CYA if readers perceive blogrolls more meaningful than the author intends.

    Everyday Reads/Recommended:

    Occasional/Recommended:

    Interesting-But-Not-An-Endorsement:
    etc…

    That would be nice if every person on my blogroll posted about the same thing all the time, always stayed in what I determined to be ‘their character’, never fell off or on the wagon, never got utterly pissed at another blogger, and remained garden-variety predictable over years or decades.

    But interesting human beings aren’t predictable. For better and for worse. And bloggers double-aren’t predictable. No lexicon or qualifications of what I expect from them via hyperlinks can make them so. God bless us all.

    Ditto on the objectivity thing.

  40. sbpoet’s avatar

    “One of the things I like about blogging is that, at its best, it’s not about stickiness or trapping eyeballs.”

    & this is part of my resistance to advice to take everything off my (yes, I know, excessive) sidebar, because “it distracts from your content” —

    some of it *is* my content, and I *want* to send you elsewhere, to other blogs, to other interesting places.

    That balance between creative ‘this is what I like’ expression and loading time is an ongoing struggle for me.

    BTW, I came here from jeanene’s blog — and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit — I’ve never been here before…

  41. Phil Wolff’s avatar

    Hmmm, this goes back to design goals.

    Why do people read your blog? More specifically, why do people come to your blog page vs. reading your posts in a feed reader?

    Conversely, why do you blog? Design should support your goals.

    Are you building your “personal brand”? (I apologize for the b-word.) Perhaps more bio info for all the newbies who visit your site from search engines. If you’re like everyone else, that’s going to be more than half your traffic. Also, if this is your “home page,” you might make it easy to discover where else you live and interact on the net.

    Effectively propagate memes of your choosing? Add sharing/repurposing tools. List a few of your favorite posts on themes you’re promoting.

    Supporting your own memory? Maybe this-time-last-year links or related links from your archives.

    Are you trying to promote your accessibility to your stakeholders at Harvard and potential clients? Maybe a more prominent contact-me form right on the home page. Post your public calendar (I export an excerpt of mine from Google).

    ***

    Blogrolling is a vestige of when we handwrote the models of our social networks, at least the part that was on our blogs. There was also an element of reciprocity; hey, I’m on their blogroll, isn’t it polite to respond in kind? But we’re past that now, we’re in Weinberger’s “I no longer read your blog” era.

    Assuming you still think a blogroll supports your design goals, how can we improve blogrolling?

    Automation and integration. If you want to publish your buddy list, you probably have better tools to maintain your list (Outlook? AIM? Facebook? Your mobile phone’s address book?). Why maintain a separate list for your blog?

    Prioritization. Not all links are equal. The value of a Doc Searls blogroll lies in its selectivity. These are the five blogs I read every day. These are the 12 people I trust implicitly. These four people are on my team and work with me.

    Show more than a name. Blogroll as mini-aggregator? As long as you have a link to their blog, you could do what techmeme does with sponsored blogs, showing the latest title and the first sentence or two from those blogs. Again, selectivity rules.

    Thanks for raising the subject. I’ve needed to think this through for a long time for my own blogs.

  42. Fred333’s avatar

    I love using blogrolls. As reader it helps me to find other related sites or blogs to read.

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