More Recent Comments

Friday, April 06, 2007


I'm new to blogging so please help me out with the controversy about blogrolling. Apparently there are some bloggers who amass a huge list of blogs in their "blogroll." There almost seems to be a contest to see who can list the most blogs. Coturnix is an example that comes to mind.

Meanwhile, there are some bloggers who want to clean up their list to include only active blogs or, perhaps, only the best blogs. This has prompted some debate. The latest entry is from Janet Stemwedel [Hierarchy, meritocracy, the blogosphere, and the real world]. It's all very confusing to this novice. Janet seems to think there's some powerful meaning behind whether someone is on your list of blogs or not. She seems to be implying that the "big" bloggers have a duty to list smaller bloogers.

I don't get it. My list is simply a list of blogs that I like to read. Nothing more, nothing less. Janet's blog Adventures in Ethics and Science is on my list. Sandwalk is not on her list. Should I be upset?


  1. First off, Sandwalk is *supposed* to be in my blogroll but apparently I got distracted in the middle of that set of updates!

    And, I'm not so much in the camp that really sees blogrolls as fraught with meaning as I'm trying to understand what has unfolded as a rather heated debate in other parts of the blogosphere. I know that different people construct, maintain, and use their blogrolls in different ways -- as it should be. And, there are other ways besides blogrolls by which "link-love" and "Google juice" get spread around.

    My main observation was supposed to be something like this: to the extent that one is inclined to "keep score" in terms of traffic, linkage, etc., in the blogosphere, we shouldn't assume that that metric is a reliable proxy for quality.

  2. Janet says,

    My main observation was supposed to be something like this: to the extent that one is inclined to "keep score" in terms of traffic, linkage, etc., in the blogosphere, we shouldn't assume that that metric is a reliable proxy for quality.

    I agree. It's a measure of something but not necessarily the quality of the science, or the quality of the writing, or the quality of the logic. We all know that the Creationist blogs are way more popular than science blogs.

    I still don't see the connection between this and blogrolls.

    Actually, I'm much more concerned these days with the attempt by SEED to promote "their" bloggers are being somehow superior to other science bloggers. Does that bother you or are you happy to benefit from that kind of promotion?

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. A model in line with meritocracy (and its problems) is that on a market have-much may have easier to get more and assuredly have easier to avoid 'bankruptcy' than have-less.

    I don't think it is the task for any specific blogger to pervert a functioning system, on the contrary. But Janet's point is well taken - quality can not be judged solely by market success.

  5. I guess you can choose what you use your blogroll for. Inevitably if you have a good blog, people will want to read what you read, so I guess there's some power in that. Most of us want other people to read what we write. As for SEED, I like it, because I feel I can trust the quality of blogs on SEED (most anyway), something I can't say about Blogger. I don't think I would've ever stumbled on this blog were it not through SEED bloggers and their blogroll (I think I found this one through PZ). Anyway...

  6. I guess I haven't been watching where SEED might be promoting the Sb stable (outside of their website and magazine), given that I'm trying to keep my head down and catch on dayjob related tasks. I suppose it wouldn't surprise me to find out there was a bit of an effort to at least drive more traffic to the blogs where their advertising dollars are coming from.

    But, it's pretty clear to me, most (if not all) of the ScienceBloggers, and (I dare say) the management at SEED that some of the very best science blogs are *outside* Sb.

  7. I like your approach of using the blogroll as a "this is my reading list" type of thing. All the 'political' bs is beyond me.

  8. The blogs I first started reading are from the crew, and I've expanded from there based on cross-refs.

    Other than that, I don't have much to say except that I'm surprised and flattered to find myself on Larry's blogroll. I'll take that as motivation to ensure I semi-regularly post something profound and informative. Or failing that, something entertainingly stupid. I'm quite capable of the latter, even when trying for the former.

  9. I rarely pay much attention to blogrolls. My primary method of finding new blogs is via a direct link from a post in one of my must-read-daily blogs. That's how I found Sandwalk, via PZ, and now you're nestled right next to him on my daily-read favorites list!

  10. Sandwalk is on my blogroll but Trinifar is not on yours -- no problem there. Why should there be blogroll symmetry when people vary so widely? The only benefit to liberally adding to a blogroll is for the smaller blogs, and even then getting mentioned in a post that gets read by a lot of people is way more effective.

    A mention in a A-list blogger's post can send a lot of traffic to a relatively unknown blog -- which should surprise no one. (I found Sandwalk through a post on Pharyngula.) That's why book, theater, and movie reviews exist in newspapers. Similary with Seed and ScienceBlogs; the larger aggregation has some benefits for those participating just like being part of a newpaper chain.

    What I am hearing in the recent discussion is a lot of smaller blogs would like the bigger ones to link to them -- to continue the newpaper analogy, to provide more reviews -- and a link in a post is way better (in general) than a blogroll link.

    A blogroll, blog technology in general, is pretty crude not just in the grand scheme of things but by any mundane standard. There is no shared metric for creating a blogroll nor should there be. Do your own thing.

  11. Larry,

    It is your blog and by creating it you are under no obligation to maintain a blogroll that contains anything other than what you want to include.

    It was nice of PZ to include my own blog on his, and my traffic went way up because of it so I appreciate it. Even still it is one of hundreds over there so it doesn't make me famous.

    It's your blog, and the blogosphere is not a coercive republic, so I say you are free to limit it to those you choose to list.

    Not that you needed my permission, but I don't get where people have the idea that liberal bloggers or science bloggers or quilting bloggers have an obligation to support each other.

    I just reckon that if I keep working on making my blog more interesting my readership will grow.

  12. I put blogs on my blogroll if and only if they support the main objectives of my blog, which is to promote science, skepticism and critical thinking. It doesn’t have to be the only purpose of the blog but it needs to be a significant portion of it. It seems to me that listing more than this diminishes the value of the blogroll.

  13. In the beginning, which would be January, traffic on my site would skyrocket whenever PZ Myers pointed to my blog in a post. I get very little traffic from being on blogrolls, bur probably some.

    Now, I get spikes as well from other sources such as being "stubled-on" (which is like being dugg, but it happens to me every week once or twice and has, I think, less of an effect than being Dugg is supposed to ... )

    I have the same questions as you, Larry, about blog rolls. There was a moment when I decided to have two blog rolls, one of reciprocal links, the other of other links I liked. Then I realized that was a really bad idea and put them all into one.

    The really big blog rolls actually roll ... mine does not ... everybody on my blog roll is just there all the time.

    To some extent a blog is measured by linkage, and so linking to blogs you like is a good thing because it gives those blogs a way to be found (why not tell people about what you think are good blogs?) and it helps for those who are interested in the numbers (like Technorati, etc.).

    These ranking system are not just ranking systems .. they are ways of a blog getting known, as people do find blogs via social networks.

    Those that are cynical about social networks like technorati should consider this: It's free information, free advertising as it were, so don't be so cynical!

    Personally, I think that the reasons a blog would be on a blogroll can be varied, with each blog being there for a different reason, though of course there will be patterns. Most of the links on my blog roll are there because I recommend them, a few are requested reciprocal links.

    If I really actually read a site AND I find material that is both original and well done, I will mention those posts in my posts, which I'm sure sends all 14 people who read my blog and do whatever I tell them to do to those sites right away.

    I should mention that this site (Sandwalk) is either my favorite science blog or in the first rank category with very few others. Sure, everyone loves Pharyngula, and it is a great site, and it is also my favorite, but not as a science blog as much as a political/social evo-creo and atheisim blog.

    As for the science blogger conspiracy, yes, I've worried about that as well but the three or four science bloggers that I interact with mostly (PZ, Coturnix, etc.) have gone out of their way to help me out, which I appreciate a great deal. I have a feeling (though I've not discussed this with anyone) that if SEED started to get strange, most of the science bloggers would raise a fuss.

  14. By the way: Larry, you know how to get a lot of comments on a post? Post on something not about science!

    The most commented post on my site is about the 20th most read. The most read post on my site has I think two comments on it. (and it's a science post ... which mentions sex several times... and a little violence)