Monday, March 14, 2011

A quick survey on blog rolls

A reader noticed that I'd recently deleted CMR from my blog roll, and thought I was "excommunicating" the CMR guys over my disagreement with Patrick Archbold. No worries--they're still on my Google Reader feed along with all of my other must-read daily blogs; I was actually in the process of paring down my blog roll, and had removed about five (including CMR) the other day before getting interrupted and forgetting about the whole thing.

The truth is, there are several key Catholic blogs I read daily: CMR, Catholic and Enjoying It, Acts of the Apostasy, and about a dozen others, in addition to a handful of Christian blogs and blogs that are more news-oriented or political in focus. All of these blogs are on my Google Reader, because that way I don't have to waste time checking them when they haven't updated. Not only that, but all of these are quite popular blogs--nobody's going to come to my tiny and insignificant blog, see a link to CMR or CAEI, and think "Oh, I've never heard of this blog--I should check it out." Which is why I started wondering recently why I had such a large blog roll, and whether anybody even uses blog rolls anymore.

I talked to my sister-in-law, who said she hasn't used one on her blog in years. Glancing around, I found that some blogs have them, some don't, and some have a small list of unusual blogs or family members' blogs or some such thing. I realized that I'd be a lot more likely to click on a link in the middle of a small list of blogs I'd never read than to scroll through a list of dozens of popular blogs in order to find one I'd never seen before.

So, as I said, I started the process of paring down, but got interrupted, and forgot to come back and finish.

When I resumed the paring process--brought on by my reader's comment, which reminded me what I was doing in the first place!--I realized that approximately six blogs on my list were no longer active at all, and two or three others had been changed to totally different blogs by their authors. A handful more had updated approximately once or twice a year for the past three or four years. And, as I said, the popular blogs certainly didn't need a link from me (my CAEI link existed only because I had problems loading Mark's blog for a while if I tried to come to it from Google, but that's no longer the case).

Right now the list contains my husband's blog and a few other small blogs that I find interesting; I plan to keep the total number to fewer than ten, with the notion that more people will look at ten links than a hundred. I'm adding a new blog, too; the Far Above Rubies writer is so consistently interesting and thought-provoking that I hope she'll gain a wide readership.

Tell me, in the comment boxes: do you make use of bloggers' blog rolls? Do you use them frequently enough for them to be an important feature of any blogs you visit? Do you find them a convenient "short cut" to good blogs, or an annoying page clutterer?


LarryD said...

I should probably do as you did, and just add them to my reader. It'll clean up my sidebar considerably.

And I'm honored you make my littl ol' blog a daily read! Thanks!

Red Cardigan said...

Not only that, Larry, but you're at the top of my Google Reader list!

(Okay, so I have them organized alphabetically, but still...)


Siarlys Jenkins said...

LarryD can thank you that my iconoclastic self found my way to his site. I came here because Dreher recommended it when he closed his own down. I clicked on Acts of the Apostasy when I found it in the right-hand column here. It had an amusing ring to it. Larry lacks your breadth and aura of compassion, but he's a good challenge, and we find something to agree on now and then -- like the hypothesis that "God had a wife."

Red Cardigan said...

Hmmm. So, maybe blog rolls are useful after all? I may have to rethink this...

Joe @ Defend Us In Battle said...

I think that Blogrolls play multiple functions.

1. They let readers know about you, without you saying it... sort of the "know a person by the company he keeps."

2. It allows you to run in packs, as you'll notice certain blogs list other blogs in their "crew" and youll begin to notice patterns.

3. If the big "dogs" aren't on the list, youll start to question how "important" a blog is. Some folks do this blogging thing weekly as opposed to daily, so if that person visits a blog and doesnt see the big blogs on their, they may think LESS of that blog.

Now granted there is a battle with keeping the list short, but I think thats the point. Big enough to include what you need to, and small enough to highlight some of the personal faves. I have struggled, because I have tons of lists on the side and I have halways thought about slicing it down a bit... just dont know the best way.

LarryD said...

Larry lacks your breadth and aura of compassion, but he's a good challenge,

I lack an aura of compassion? Jerk.

I do, however, lack her breadth becaudth I'm a guy...

Alisha De Freitas said...

Erin, please take this huge e-hug! I was telling the hubby last night about your link on Mark Shea's blog and how it boosted my numbers immediately, and I want to thank you for the link here, too.

I found your blog through Mark's, and I found his blog through Dawn Eden's. I think there really is some power in the blog roll. Now, you might have noticed I don't have one, but that wasn't totally intentional. I actually did until last year when K redid my page and I never got around to putting it back.

To be honest, I kind of feel like having a blogroll linking to the popular sites is silly for me since my blog is so... not popular, lol. But if anyone wants to see the blogs I check regularly (including this one), they can always click on my Blogger Profile and there is a loooong list of the blogs I "follow".

Carrie said...

A blog roll is an important part of my finding good blogs to read. The vast majority of the blogs I regularly visit were found this way, even the more popular mainstream ones. Just a few years ago, I was new to the world of blogdom, so I had no idea where to start. How do you find good orthodox Catholic blogs? Or even just good blogs, period? By seeing what blogs are followed by the trusted authors of those I already read, I was able to find some of the best blogs out there, especially for someone who has a more "specialized interest" when it comes to blogs (i.e. good Catholic ones).

I'm actually very disappointed when I find a blog that doesn't have a blog roll. I want to know what those authors are reading themselves! (Hint, hint to any commenters who have a roll-less blog themselves!) It gives me a special insight into who they are, AND it helps find new and wonderful blogs for me!

So yes, even when the blog roll list is long, I pay attention. If it's extremely long, do I sometimes lose interest? Maybe. But I'm always glad for the resource!

Charlotte said...

When I look at my site monitors, I find that people routinely use my blog role like a Google reader - they show up to my blog and then go down my blog role list and read everything - some people do this on a daily basis, in fact!

I agree with the pack mentality statement - blog roles tip you off as to what else you want to read - or not read.

However, I much prefer blog roles like mine, where I've set it that not only the blog shows, but also their most recent blog post.

JC said...

I have a sort of blog roll, which is in more-or-less constant flux. As with Charlotte, I find that there are a few people who come to my site and use it like google reader (myself included, weird I know). I basically have the blog's name, plus the title and time of the latest post, and the list organizes based on when the most recent post is made.

However, it gets weird in that my blogroll is a combination of the other blogs which I read regularly and those which have added my own blog to their list. I try to do a sort of reciprocation on mine, wherein if somebody else lists me, I list them, even if I don't frequent their page. To make things even more confusing, I have two right sidebars: the result is that the blogroll occurs nearer to the top of the page, but is side-by-side with my blog's archive and other stuff. It's also been split into three categories, but I've been playing with simplifying this a little; I've also played around a bit with having only the 10 most recently updated appear, which does simplify things a bit.

As far as using others' blogrolls, this I do on occasion when I feel like looking for something different (although going to St Blogs and picking a random one often works about as well as picking a random one from somebody elses' blogroll). I've never found blogrolls to be particularly cluttering, though my own page is not exactly free of clutter. :) Sorry to be long-winded in the comments, but being concise was never my strong suite!

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Larry, I take your gratuitous insult with the seasoning of humor that I infer was intended. If it wasn't intended, I would infer it anyway, and take pleasure that this would increase the gnashing of teeth on the part of the writer, if they lacked your inferred sense of humor.

In all honesty, if the times and the culture permitted, I could seriously see you burning heretics at the stake, with the same determined sadness expressed by the rendition of Thomas More in the TV sitcom version of The Tudors.

Erin has a little, just a little, more of an aura of mutual respect for those of markedly different viewpoints, even pro-choice Protestants. She has a real knack for what it means to hate the sin (although I don't always agree on what IS a sin), while loving the sinner. If I lived next door to her, we could always talk pleasantly about our flower gardens. You might, sometimes, refuse to speak to me because I am a heretic.

But I haven't forgotten you said you would invite even Protestants to that party you were planning, albeit charging us all admission.

By the way, what do I do now that Erin no longer lists a link to Acts of the Apostasy? Is this Google listing accessible on the page somewhere?

Word verification: flogicau

Is that archaic Latin for "The floggings will continue until morale improves?

Red Cardigan said...

Siarlys, thank you for the compliment. :)

I've added a second blog roll, called "Some Blogs You Probably Already Read," in which I can put the "big guys" that lots of people know about. Both blogs rolls are "in progress" for now--I may add more, delete some, move things around, etc.

Hope this helps!

LarryD said...

Siarylis - yes, I was being facetious. The opening was there for a jab, and I stepped through it. I may not always agree with your point of view, but I don't think you're a jerk.

I have respect for those who have differing viewpoints - I don't delete your comments left at my blog, after all - but that doesn't mean I have to respect the actual viewpoint itself.

In any case, bringing up in Erin's combox my style, personality and supposed penchant for desiring to burn heretics wasn't particularly neighborly to begin with. I suppose that if I were to think about taking the time to actually consider your opinion, I might possibly be offended.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Larry, I knew I wasn't saying anything behind your back, because you hang out here regularly. Talking about people behind their back is the ultimate sin. However, I'm not sure I would have said this at your site -- it is better to have some conversations when we're both at a third person's party.

And no, you are under no obligation to respect my viewpoint, even though I am generally right.

Melanie B said...

I'm late to the party and you've already made your decision, Erin. But I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents anyway. I don't know how I'd have found the blogs I read if it weren't for blog rolls. I regularly click through to new, interesting sounding blogs from blog rolls. I especially like the feature some people have which lists the title of the most recent blog post. When I get around to redoing my blog I'll have to see if I can do that. Maybe not with my software.

There are also some blogs I don't read regularly enough to put in my google reader but that I enjoy clicking through to on occasion when I notice them on someone's blog roll.

I second the notion about "the company you keep" too. I've often started reading a new blog that I notice popping up in lists on many blogs I read. I figure if everyone else is reading them they must be good.

I'd really hate it if blog rolls went away.