The Republic of T.

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How I Missed the Great Blogroll Purge

The things you miss when you’ve got your head down, putting together lengthy blog posts about various issues. I mentioned in the previous post that I’ve blogged a lot in the past about blogrolls, the politics of linking in, and how links are a kind of currency that follow the same rules as currency in any other economy: those who have the most tend to get the most, tend to keep it, and tend exchange it mostly among themselves.

It’s been a long time since I’ve focused on the subject at length; that’s mostly because I’ve found it has little to no effect, and partly because I got the sense that people were tired off reading about it. Most of all, I finally realized a few things: the topics I blog about and the kind of blogging I do will never attract a huge audience, and if attracting a huge audience would most likely mean changing what I blog about and how I blog. I’ve decided against the latter.

I’m not one of those people, and I’ll never be one of those people, because I’m not willing to change what I’d need to change to be one of those people. I don’t hang with them, I don’t roll with them, and I’ve pretty much stop listening or participating in their conversations. Kos and Atrios don’t know me from Adam. And that’s fine.

But while catching up on my blog reading I came across this post on Booman Tribune about a fundraiser at Orcinus, and this part stopped me in my tracks.

Dave Neiwert’s holding a fundraiser at his blog Orcinus. Like many, he’s suffered the ill effects of the great blogroll purge, which is a shame because he is, bar none, one of the best writers on the intertubes. He covers a topic in depth that few in the mainstream media even acknowledge, the rise of right wing extremism and its effects on our society. Not only that, but his coverage of that subject is as deep in its analysis as it is broad in scope.

Two things. One, I’ve got to start reading Orcinus regularly. Sounds like my kind of bloggger. Second, “blogroll purge”? There was a blogroll purge and I missed it? Where have I been? What have I been doing? And how did I miss it?

Problem is — and it’s not really a problem — I wasn’t paying attention. Or, more to the point, I wasn’t looking in the right direction so I didn’t know what was happening. Like I said in a previous post:

Blogging sometimes reminds me of the old scenario where someone’s walking down a street, and suddenly sees a group of people standing in one spot, their necks craned as they all apparently stare up at the same thing. The instinct is to stop and look, even if you don’t know what everyone’s looking at or if it’s worth looking at in the first place. it’s one more way to draw at least a few eyes away from the usual suspects and maybe get a few people to look at some of the great blogs that reside further down the Long Tail.

… And in the context of the scenario above, you might find something wonderful that you wouldn’t have seen if you were looking where everyone else is looking because that’s where everyone else is looking.

I wasn’t looking, in part, because I kind of had my own “blogroll purge” back in 2005, when I pruned from my blogroll every “A-List” blog that had never linked to me. And when I made the switch over to Google Reader, number of those same blogs got pruned from my newsfeeds. I don’t, for example, subscribe to the main feed for DailyKos any more. Instead I subscribe to the feeds for the tags I’m interested in, and read the diaries in those categories. By the same token, I don’t subscribe to Americablog’s feed anymore either. Instead I subscribe to the feeds from a few custom searches at Google’s Blog Search. As a result, see a variety of posts on those topics.

And I also dropped Atrios, so I missed Blogroll Amnesty Day. Apparently, for a brief shining moment I and the rest of the bloggers slogging away in the darkness of hte Long Tail had the opportunity for a spot on the blogroll of one of the biggest liberal bloggers in the blogosphere. Probably for the best, because I would have somewhat tempted to suck up for blogroll links, though I like to think I’d have ultimately resisted. Especially since it seemed to reinforce an already twisted relationship between the various tiers of the blogosphere. it was an odd sort of amnesty.

This past weekend Atrios, the proprietor of Eschaton, declared a Blogroll Amnesty Day, saying, “one of the big complaints by new bloggers is that it’s impossible to get onto blogrolls because established bloggers tend not to add them.” I thought that adding new lesser-known blogs to his blogroll would be a wonderful idea. Although for some inexplicable reason that I am at pains to discover, Atrios has never seen fit to link to me, I, nevertheless added Eschaton to my own blogroll and introduced myself to Atrios with a sincerely sycophantic email, since he is after all a blogging pioneer who deserves our respect.

But the more I learned about this Amnesty Day, the more I realized that it was a very strange amnesty indeed. The amnesty he granted turned out to be amnesty for himself. He wanted to assuage himself of the guilt he might feel at kicking blogs off his blogroll instead of granting amnesty to others to swarm across the border into his domain. “Everyone feels a wee bit guilty about removing blogs from their blogroll, so they’re hesitant to add new ones to an ever-expanding list,” he explained. So Atrios deleted his entire blogroll and disappointingly repopulated it for the most part with the usual suspects. Then others in the liberal blogosphere followed his example, including Jesus’ General and PZ Myers at Pharyngula, who already takes a very Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest approach to blogrolling. Then Markos at Daily Kos joined this ruthless bloodletting. “It sucks and it feels bad,” he said, daubing the tears from his eyes as he typed. So the end result of Atrios’ Amnesty Day was to make some blogrolls smaller and even more exclusive than they already were.

Maybe hindsight is 20/20, but the whole idea of “Blogroll Amnesty” day seems unsustainable to me from the “get-go.” It’s obvious, or should have been, that blogger like Kos and Atrios would get way more requests to be linked than their blogrolls could accommodate without becoming so long as to be unreadable and useless. But that flood of requests, if heeded, would then give nearly perfect cover for deleting their existing blogrolls and starting all over again. After all, yielding to so many requests to be blogrolled left them with unwieldy, useless blogrolls.

It’s kind of amazing to me, because I always figured the “A-List” — say the top 100 to 200 political blogs — was the “A-list.” Come to find out, the “A-List” has it’s own “A-List.” It’s just that you’d have to be a part of the former to even know about the latter, or the fallout when people on the former discover they’re not on the latter.

And boy, was there fallout. When Kos cleared his blogroll, people like Skippy felt the pain.

dude, i’m not just a snarky anti-capitalist. my blog holds an important place in blogtopia, and yes, i coined that phrase. even putting aside the fact our traffic meter comes no where close to yours, we happily link to dozens of other blogs with even less traffic…and thusly, when you cut skippy off your blogroll, you by extension cut the path off for the smaller blogs to get readers surfing their way thru blogtopia (y! ictp!).

sure, i wasn’t surprised when duncan dumped me off echaton’s roll. he was pretty snotty to me at ykos in person, and hasn’t given me a link in his daily work for more than a year.

… do i need the traffic from your blog? well, it couldn’t hurt, i suppose. and, yes, there are other blogs out there with much bigger numbers in terms of readers. but even without your (and atrios’) link in the past few days, i’ve maintained my regular 1000-1500 hits, which i’ve maintained for the past 3 years. so somebody’s reading my stuff, even if it ain’t you and duncan.

And Skippy wasn’t the only one. Renee of My Left Wing felt the sting as well.

He’s the guy who got the ball rolling by declaring “Blogroll Amnesty Day” early in February. Other big sites followed suit. I doubt that anyone needed an excuse. But when one of the Big Boys of Blogging declared that February 3 was the day that one was free to dump links off their blogrolls without feeling even a twinge of guilt… well, why the hell not? Especially if you’re already kind of a jerk. So that was one of the rare times Atrios occupied any significant portion of my brainspace.

Until just a couple days ago, when I saw comments about his recent entry, “Why your blog sucks.” Damn, he’s got a lot of nerve. He cuts all these links from his blogroll, damaging the traffic levels and rankings of those “lesser blogs,” and now he’s got the nerve to start opining about how these other bloggers can “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” I refuse to link to Mr. Blogging Elite, but if you want to read what he had to say, I’ve made the url of that post the alt text for this image.

The thing is, just like in the “real world”, it is easier to make money when you already have money, Atrios and other big blogs get people linking to them automatically, simply because everyone else links to them. Recently I looked at the DNC blog, and some of the candidate blogs (the ones that actually have blogrolls), and his site was linked on all of them. Does he have to suck up and ingratiate himself for that honor? Somehow I doubt it. People who work for these campaigns most likely link to Atrios and Kos and a few others because “everybody reads them.”

And everyone reads them because “everyone reads them,” thus the cycle is perpetuated and upper tier becomes more stratified, much to the consternation of the strivers just below the top tier. In a monetary economy, those with the most gold have the power. In a linking economy like the one that exists in the blogosphere, those with the most links — the most currency — have the power. And they pretty much wield it as they wish.

In a blog economy where links are currency – especially from a site like DailyKos — there is power in bestowing them and taking them away; but it is only power over those who have or would like to have more of that currency. I’ve probably fallen into that latter category on some occasions, but lately I find myself appreciating my somewhat unique position in the progressive blogging universe.

… There’s a certain freedom in not being the kind of insider that Stirling describes in his second post. It means that most of the time it doesn’t matter whether I jump on the latest lefty bloggers’ bandwagon, because most of the time nobody at insider level Stirling describes is going to care whether I do or not. And if I’m not coveting the link-currency that comes with that attention, then I only have to consider what I want to post about and what interests the folks who do read this blog. And if the big kids happen to look down here every once in a while and spotlight something I’ve blogged, well that’s just gravy.

There is a definite freedom in not being on the blogrolls of any of the major blogs. I can’t be cut from blogrolls I’m not on, and I can’t miss traffic that I never got from them in the first place. (I was on the Fire Dog Lake blogroll for a while, but got cut from it at some point though I can’t determine when that was.) So, this whole clash of the titans breaks out just over my head and I miss it.

And there’s a strange kind of schizophrenia this inspires among those at the top of the list. On the one hand, they seem to be fully aware of the power of their blogrolls, when guys like Aravosis, Atrios, Kos and Bowers hold forth at length about why they aren’t going to link to some blogs. On the other they seem to deny that they hold any such power, like Kos’ claim that he’s not a gatekeeper (though Skippy says Kos is a gatecrasher who’s closing the gate behind him), though the “blogroll purge” is kind of like closing the gate.

Sure the blogs that were cut can still be found, but they won’t be getting the kind of traffic that comes from having a link on Kos’ blogroll. And that’s partially because many of the readers at Kos at other major blogs are like the people I mentioned in the scenario above: they’re looking where everyone else is looking, because everyone else is looking there, and everyone else can’t be wrong. By extension, if there was something worth looking at somewhere else, then everyone would be looking at it already. And if they look at anything else, it will probably be what the “authorities” (to borrow a concept from Technorati) tell them to look at, in the form of a link.

So, Skippy and the others are caught between two apparent laws of human behavior. The first was explained by Clay Shirky in New York Magazine.

The power law is dominant because of a quirk of human behavior: When we are asked to decide among a dizzying array of options, we do not act like dispassionate decision-makers, weighing each option on its own merits. Movie producers pick stars who have already been employed by other producers. Investors give money to entrepreneurs who are already loaded with cash. Popularity breeds popularity.

“It’s not about moral failings or any sort of psychological thing. People aren’t lazy—they just base their decisions on what other people are doing,” Shirky says. “It’s just social physics. It’s like gravity, one of those forces.”

The other I attempted to describe in an earlier post.

When you have a fairly static system, again like the economic model mentioned above, where it’s in the interest of those at the top to keep things the way they are, you have to find a way to keep the unrest of the “have nots” down to a managable level. One of the ways you do that is to (a) convince them that the peak is reachable by almost anyone and (b) make them feel better about where they are. Make the middle sound better, look better, and reward them a little bit and you’ve created a “middle class” that’s satisfied enough to act as a buffer between the top and the bottom. Do it will enough and they’ll continue to admire those at the top, and probably even link to them.

And of course, the entire system itself must never be spoken of and it’s existance should be denied. The articles states that “[t]he very subject of the A-list is so toxic” that none of the big-timers mentioned in the article would agree to be interviewed for it.

Then there’s Atrios’ claim, echoed by Renee, that the bloggers cut from his blogroll can “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” which somehow mots the reality that, boots or no boots, the hill has has gotten a lot steeper since he climbed it. Kos seem to either not realize or not care that he was effectively “pulling up the ladder” by purging his blogroll.

Don’t you have a responsibility as a big site to help other blogs get attention?

No. I don’t. Just like no one else has any responsibility to help Daily Kos. Think about it — with tens of thousands (if not more) liberal blogs out there, there’s no way I (or anyone else) could possibly do justice to the medium. Any attempt to put together a “best of the web” list would by default insult a great number of great bloggers. So rather than try the impossible, I’ll focus on the sites that I’m currently focused on.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of the blogs are SOL. And here’s where people-power comes in — people must take the responsibility of promoting their own sites and those of their favorite bloggers. The best tool, by far, to promote individual blogs is to include a link to your blog on your sig file. That’s allowed and encouraged. Daily Kos now features individual blogrolls on every user page and their diary pages as well.

Nobody has a responsibility to help Daily Kos, true. But how much help does Daily Kos need? Yes, the blogrolls on user pages seem like it would help. But, Skippy notes, that “gate” is already closed, as the “blogrolls” on user pages don’t effect the ranking of any blogs listed on those pages. That’s how the pages are coded.

on each of the diary pages, there is a link labeled “blogroll” that points to a page on the main dailykos site. these blogrolls aren’t on the dairy site subdomains, so they aren’t separate blogrolls for each of the diary sites, but rather pages that would be considered by google to be part of the main dailykos site. but…

if you look at the robots.txt file for the dailykos.com site, you’ll see that the user pages are disallowed for a number of robots (http://www.dailykos.com/robots.txt).

user-agent: googlebot

#disallow: /

disallow: /comments

disallow: /user

disallow: /poll

disallow: /print

disallow: /search

… the diary owner’s blogrolls are being disallowed to googlebot by the robots.txt files. the url structure of the diary owners’ blogrolls is like this:

http://www.dailykos.com/user/username/blogroll

because of this line in the robots.txt file – “disallow: /user” – google isn’t allowed to visit those diary users’ blogroll pages, and index them, and follow the links upon them. in terms of ranking value for these user blogrolls, there is none, because google isn’t allowed to visit those pages.

Kos, Atrios, and others seem to operate under the assumption that the world hasn’t changed since they started blogging, and thus anyone who wants to or is “good enough” can make it just like they did. But the world has changed. That’s something at least Dave Sifry kind of acknowledged in New York Magazine even as he touted the Huffington Post as an example of how “anyone can break into the ‘A-List.”

Yet the rapid rise of the Huffington Post represents a sort of death knell for the traditional blogger. The Post wasn’t some site thrown up by a smart, bored Williamsburg hipster who just happened to hit a cultural nerve. It was the product of a corporation—carefully planned, launched, and promoted. This is now the model for success: Of Technorati’s top ten blogs, nearly half were created in the same corporate fashion, part of the twin blog empires of Jason Calacanis and Nick Denton.

“The good news is that it’s still possible to create a top-ranked blog,” says Shirky. “The bad news is, the way to get into the top ten now seems to be public relations.” Just posting witty entries and hoping for traffic won’t do it. You have to actively seek out attention from the press. “That’s how they’re jump-starting the links structure. It’s not organic.”

Gone are the days of someone starting a blog on a whim, only to suddenly find themselves among the top ranked. You either have to have the PR muscle of a corporate entity behind you, or the cache of an already established celebrity like Arianna Huffington (with a bevy of celebrity friends to help keep the content flowing and the readers coming to see what those famous names have to say.)

There is perhaps one other path out of blog oblivion; there’s the possibility that you’ll be favored by a blogger further up the curve and, if they link to you often enough, find yourself finally “one of them.”

Among bloggers, few things provoke more rancor than the subject of the A-list. Much as in high school, C-listers quickly suspect the deck is stacked against them, and the bitterness flows like cheap wine.

… If the star system rankles the C-listers, it is partly because they have such a weirdly submissive relationship with A-listers. They envy them, but they need them, too, because one of the quickest ways for an unknown blog to acquire traffic is to feed scoops to an A-lister, in the hopes that the editors there will use the tip and include a thank-you link pointing back to the tipster. Even better is becoming so well loved that an A-lister puts you on his “blogroll,” a permanent list of favorite sites—the blog equivalent of Best Friends Forever.

… Yet one can understand why the tiny blogs are so hungry for approval. A single mention from an A-lister can provoke “firehoses of traffic”—as John Battelle describes it—that can help pluck a neophyte blog out of obscurity. (This has even happened to me. I run a small science blog—avowedly C-list, a pure vanity project—and the times that Boing Boing or Gizmodo have linked to me, my traffic has exploded.) When Gawker linked recently to a posting at Blogebrity, it nearly tripled the smaller site’s traffic, from 1,200 visitors a day to 3,500. Even a link from a smaller, B-list blog can help a struggling newcomer. In his first two years blogging, Trent Vanegas—the 31-year-old creator of the gossip site Pink Is the New Blog—barely rated 200 visitors a day. Then in January 2005, a few medium-size New York blogs—including Ultragrrl and Thighswideshut—gave him a shout-out, and his traffic doubled. The virtuous cycle began, and today he has 1 million page views a month, VH1 is calling to use him as a commentator, and he’s fielding job offers from E! and Bravo.

“It’s crazy,” he says, laughing. “After a point, you’re like, Where are all these people coming from?

Where are they coming from? They’re coming from those “firehoses of traffic” wielded by the “big” bloggers. When those hoses get turned off, things tend to dry up. Like revenue. For some bloggers, there’s money involved if they carry advertising. Because advertising is driven by traffic, and the more traffic you have the more you can charge for advertising.

This has been going on for a long, long time. I took a swing at the politics of linking back in 2005. And another blogger voiced his frustration with the blogs at the bottom of the curve, rather than those at the top.

Fuck it. I give up. No one wants to listen. No one wants to organize.

I am removing every blog from my roll that has never linked to me.

And you know what that will mean?

Mostly B-to-Z-list blogs will be affected. I have been linked in the past by most of the A-list blogs at least once (including 4 times in the last 2 weeks) so the Eschatons and Americablogs will remain linked but it’s the smaller bloggers that aren’t doing their fair share of the load (the 4 posts I wrote that were big enough and important enough to earn A-list links last week got hardly any linkage from the littler blogs).

By having such an enormous blogroll I have hurt my blog because it takes longer for my site to load and my Google ranking is affected by smaller blogs pulling it down (my 6 might turn into a 7 when I finish the purge).

I plan to visit each link once before I remove it. And if I accidently cut off someone who’s linked to me…leave a comment or send me an email.

One day the left will learn the importance of links. One day.

The irony in reading that comment now is that at the time I would have been inclined to think that anyone who was getting regularly linked by the “A-List” probably didn’t need a link from my humble little blog, or the trickle of traffic it might provide. A blogger who has the support of Kos, Atrios and others, and has all those “firehoses of traffic” aimed at them doesn’t need any help from us denizens of the Long Tail, any more than Kos, Atrios or the rest of them do.

Well, maybe now they do, now that they’re clearly not “one of them.”

But it still won’t be worth nearly as much as those “links from above.”

Update: I’m kinda surprised that this post generated much interested, since I figured I was rather late to the discussion. For what it’s worth, my various blogrolls are on the links & blogrolls page. Now that I think about it, they could probably stand to be updated. I know there are some blogs linking to this one that I haven’t added yet. Sounds like a project for the weekend!

I also remembered something I wanted to reference earlier, but forgot. It’s from a New York Times article about the psychology of wealth that several of the Science Blogs were referencing a while back. And there’s one part that fits in with the “links-as-currency” and “linking economy” theme in this post.

Professor Carroll says maybe they love money, not for what it can buy but just for its own sake. Perhaps they get something different from having money — clout, power, the ability to dominate an industry. Or perhaps these are just competitive people who care about their position compared with other people on the list.

They accumulate more so they can lord it over the other families who have less — a bit like having enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world several times but making more to stay ahead of the other guy.

I meant to include it in the post, but was in such a hurry to get it published that I forgot. Still, I think it makes sense in the context of blogs and links.

80 Comments

  1. PhoenixWoman, with all due respect, you said “Atrios survives because he was in on the ground floor (and also is very good at what he does: you try whipping out ten-plus posts a day, every day, weekends included, and see how long you last).”

    I would answer, “Try whipping out 2-5 posts a day between the hours of 5:30 and 8:00 AM and maybe another one or two in the evening and also hold down a full-time job when you’re 52.” Sorry, but ten-plus posts a day that say “Rock on” and “Don’t shoot anybody in the face” and “I don’t have anything to say” really doesn’t require a whole lot of effort. Color me unimpressed.

  2. Oh, and as a final note, I just thought I’d add that I’ve apparently already picked up at least one reader from this post. I hope they come back. That’s how this works. Somebody reads something that you wrote, they like it, and they come back. And if they see your link on a blogroll, maybe it’ll remind them of you and they’ll click through more often. But the more they liked your stuff, the more likely they’ll remember you.

    That makes so much more sense than somebody picking a random name off a huge blogroll and seeing if they like it. I used to do that and read a lot of lousy blogs, only one of which I still read: Digby. Coincidentally, it was from Atrios’ blogroll that I saw it. And I found Atrios through Josh Marshall’s, who had a very select blogroll. But that was over two years ago and I never randomly click on blogrolls anymore. If anything, I find blogs through links, not blogrolls. That’s how I found this one.

    And if blogroll’s are worth anything, it’s because the blogger selected the specific blogs because they thought it had something that others should read and they’re recommending it to the rest of us. But if the blogroll has blogs that the blogger no longer recommends, it becomes entirely meaningless. This isn’t a popularity contest, and if people got their feelings hurt, then they need to have tougher feelings. I don’t care about their feelings. I just want to read something good. That’s why I’m not Doctor Bioheart.

  3. it occurred to me recently that the difference between those that bemoan the blogroll purges and those that think it’s much ado about nothing is that the former believe(d) that blogging can help coalesce progressives into a viable and tangible political force in this country, and the latter pretty much think blogging is about sitting around and shooting the breeze.

    there is nothing wrong or illicit in either of those points of view. but it does go a long way towards explaining why those points are so miles apart on this issue.

    if blogging is just guy and gals shooting the breeze, then yes, blogrolls mean nothing and everyone has a right to do what they want without getting called on it by other bloggers.

    however, i’ve always thought that i was part of a political movement, a movement that counted, and was in its infancy.

    maybe i’m wrong, and maybe i’m a complete sap for thinking so. it could be. i was wrong once before, so i wouldn’t be surprised.

    but, at least in the minds of those bloggers who think like me, that would justify our concern over fellow bloggers purging blogs from their rolls.

    especially in the case of those blogs who built reputations on “citizens taking back their government”…to close a gate after crashing it on the backs of the populous is so huey long as to be discernable hypocrisy. sure, they have a right to make/use their blogrolls as they see fit…this is still america, after all.

    but they can’t do such and not expect to be called out on their apparent hypocrisy. is this a political movement of ordinary citizens taking active part in government, beginning with communication on these blogs? or just a movement to collect money and influence so the big guys inside the beltway will listen when you have something to say?

    i maintain that to change from one movement to the other is, while not treachery, at least very bad manners.

    i’m sorry if my passion seems naive and self-centered to those who just want to shoot the breeze. i would feel worse about holding such opinions if i didn’t see similar opinions on various blogs, such as this one.

    also, i think, even tho it was proffered in an obviously-joking tone, that duncan’s publicly-stated desire to shoot terrance in the face over something as trivial as blogroll opinions is decidedly not liberal, or even very nice.

  4. the former believe(d) that blogging can help coalesce progressives into a viable and tangible political force in this country, and the latter pretty much think blogging is about sitting around and shooting the breeze.

    Really? Things are that black and white? We’re either part of a movement that has to follow unwritten rules of obedience, or we’re just screwing around? Because I spend too much time and energy doing this stuff for someone who’s just screwing around. But I also don’t think I’m part of some movement that I owe allegiance to. That sounds a bit too Republican for my taste.

    To me, if this is a movement, we’re still supposed to be doing things in our own way. I’m the wacky CPA analyst guy who’s lucky to write one or two posts a day, Atrios is the lucky bastard who does a decent job as a link clearinghouse, and you’re skippy, the guy who does whatever it is you do. And if you don’t like what I’m doing to help the “movement”, well screw it, I’m doing what I want to do. I don’t owe you anything and if this “movement” is about me blogging the way that you want, then I don’t want any part of the movement. Because I don’t think that’s necessary. I don’t need to follow unwritten rules of blog etiquette to beat those bastard Republicans. We just need to keep on keeping on. We do our part and it works.

    And frankly, I fail to see how Atrios keeping unwanted people on his blogroll has anything to do with the movement. If anything, it just sounds like some people got pissed and want to take their ball and go home because the A-Listers aren’t respecting them. And again, that sounds very Republican. Rather than Atrios spoiling the movement, it would be the guys forcing him to blog in ways he doesn’t want to. Because for me, if there is a movement, it’s not just about beating Republicans. Nor is it about pushing a specific agenda. For me, it’s the whole package. Freedom, and fairness, and doing what’s right. And that means getting to shoot the breeze if I so desire. That’s not what I’m doing and I’d understand if Atrios was miffed at that characterization, because he really spends a lot of time working on this stuff; but it shouldn’t be a problem if that’s what he wanted.

    Sure, it’s a movement. But it’s a liberal movement. It’s our thing. And people need to lighten up. We’re winning. We don’t need a strict blog etiquette and we certainly don’t need any mini-Stalins going around complaining about the impure (not that I’m suggesting anyone here is a mini-Stalin). We just do our part and it’ll all fit together. For my money, Atrios does more in a week than anything that you guys have done. Maybe that was luck and maybe it’s a conspiracy, but it’s still undeniable. So why can’t we all just get along? Sure, it’s a movement. But it’s our movement.

    And I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer that we end this noise pretending as if some lefty bloggers aren’t dedicated enough. I know we can beat the GOP while still keeping things fun, and that the worst thing that can happen to the movement are these loyalty tests and demands that we purge the unfaithful. I know you didn’t suggest either of those things, but I can’t imagine what else you’re talking about. Again, Atrios does a good job at what he does and I work hard at my blog, and I don’t see how it benefits anyone to have a whole bunch of blogs saying the same thing or linking to people they don’t want to link to. So step off the high horse and get back to focusing on the goal. Any demands that lefties adhere to the movement will only serve to undermine that very movement. This isn’t about indoctrination or good manners. This is about getting our country on the right track, and I’ve seen nothing to suggest that Atrios hasn’t been doing his part. And if you read enough of my posts, you’ll see that I’m surely doing my part. Does that mean I can expect to see the Biobrain label flying high on your blogroll?

  5. I know I’m droning on, but I just wanted to ask what’s so bad about Atrios? I don’t know about y’all, but I only regularly read five blogs a day and feel like I still don’t have enough time to do my real work. And so Atrios does a great job of providing links to important news stories and good bloglinks that I would have missed otherwise (I almost always click through on the links). Between him, Josh Marshall, Digby, Juan Cole, and Carpetbagger, I stay on top of everything without being weighed-down. But I don’t have time for anything else and haven’t clicked on anyone in their blogroll for a long time. Maybe you guys have better sources for info, but I don’t. Nor do I have time for it. Hell, I don’t even talk politics in real life, so this is my only connection to the liberal community.

    So I’m thankful that I’ve got them to go through all this stuff, so I don’t have to. Sure, maybe they could do more. And I’d love it if any or all of them put me in their blogroll, or at least linked to me. Hell, Juan Cole’s gone so far as to delete my last comment, perhaps having missed the satrical nature of it. So I think all this gruff is unwarranted. Maybe you’d like Atrios to be different, but I like him just the way he is. So don’t spoil things for me. Heck, the only thing I don’t like about him are the Open Threads, and that was clearly a compromise forced upon him by the blogworld. I don’t want any more compromises. I just want him to keep highlighting the wankers and provide the minimum amount of analysis that allows me to fill in the blanks at my own blog. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m already plenty liberal. I just want more facts. Is that so wrong?

  6. I know I’m droning on, but I just wanted to ask what’s so bad about Atrios? I don’t know about y’all, but I only regularly read five blogs a day and feel like I still don’t have enough time to do my real work. And so Atrios does a great job of providing links to important news stories and good bloglinks that I would have missed otherwise (I almost always click through on the links).

    What’s so bad about Atrios? Nothing as far as his blogging is concerned.

    Surprised? You shouldn’t be if you actually read the beginning of this post.

    Like I said at the beginning, I don’t want to be Atrios. I don’t want his traffic. I don’t want a link on his blogroll. I don’t want his readers either, because we do very different things.

    I could probably mange 10 or more posts per day if most of them consisted of one word, maybe a sentence, a link, and a blockquote. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m sure Duncan’s readers appreciate being able to quickly take in what he’s culled from the day’s news. It’s a great service. But it’s not what I do or want to do.

    I’ve done my share of aggregation — for example, my Queerly Kos series at Daily Kos — and I know what a great service it can be for people who otherwise wouldn’t have seen certain items.

    But mostly I’m a researcher and writer at heart. I read about 250 to 300 blog and news feeds each day. Think about them, try to uncover the associations and connections between them, and set them down in a context that put them into a particular context. The audience for that kind of blogging is much smaller. That much is clear from the responses this post has gotten today. (Previously, at least some people found it as thoughtful as I’d intended it to be.)

    And that’s fine. I like what I’m doing. And based on the response I’ve gotten after three years of doing this, and the opportunities that have come my way, I think I’ve been reasonably successful in that smaller sphere. So I don’t envy others the success they’ve experience in their much larger sphere. It’s just that there’s a larger audience and more mass appeal for what they do.

    And I’m not suggesting they do more or do anything differently. If you read this post, at most I’m making some observations about how things appear to work and how there’s probably som inequality inherent in the overall scenario. If you look at this post and the one after it what I am saying is that the rest of us need to focus on finding or creating our own spheres and defining success within those spheres.

    We need spend less time looking to (and linking to) those at the top of the curve, and more time looking to and linking to each other. They need us a lot less than we need each other.

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  8. We need spend less time looking to (and linking to) those at the top of the curve, and more time looking to and linking to each other. They need us a lot less than we need each other.

    First off, I should say that I wasn’t necessarily lumping you with the Atrios-bashers at all. I was just making a general point on something I don’t understand. There seems to be a certain part of the liberal blogosphere that really resents Atrios or thinks he’s sold-out, and I don’t understand that at all. I’ve been reading him for far longer than I’ve been blogging and he still seems like the same guy to me. But I hadn’t meant to suggest you or anyone else as an Atrios-basher.

    But as for the point I quoted above, that’s something I also don’t understand. What’s wrong with linking to Atrios? His shit is good and he doesn’t waste my time with a long wankfest where he tries to impress everyone by repeating himself in every post. That’s what I like: Just the facts. So I link to him at least once a week, and as someone who often only makes one post a day, that’s a big part of my links. And I have even more to Carpetbagger, who I consider to be a god of blogging. So what’s wrong with that? This isn’t a charity. I link to the people that I read and who get me thinking about stuff. That’s how this should work. The bloggers who resonate better will make a bigger splash and everyone else will sink to the level that their material is at. And if there’s already a bigtime blogger who does what you do, we certainly don’t need another one. It’s evolution in action.

    And frankly, I think there are already too many bloggers. How else to explain why everyone keeps ignoring me? (Slight joke) And I honestly think that most blogs suck. I won’t name name’s, as I don’t remember the sucky ones, but I usually don’t like what I’m seeing. It’s not that I disagree with them, but that they aren’t offering anything new. Partly, that’s just me, as I’m very particular about what I read, but I honestly think that at least half of the political blogs could cease to exist and the only loss would be to the ex-blogger’s ego. Not that they’re bad, but that they’re redundant. If they enjoy doing it, that’s fine and I don’t begrudge them anything. I just won’t read them and that’s how this works.

    And artificially trying to support them seems pointless. Analysis is much easier than people think, which is why it’s so much harder to be really good at it. I’d like to think I’m one of the better ones, but my tepid traffic may belie that point. But if I do get a little bigger traffic, I’d like it to be because I got noticed, and not because I was adopted by a tiny pocket of the real blogworld. But this shouldn’t be about A-List or Z-List, but about getting out the message. And if you’ve got a message that needs to be heard, it will. And if your message is only heard by a small group of fellow bloggers who all link to each other, your message isn’t really getting out. So it just sounds like rather than curing the problem of the insular A-List world, you’re just making it worse by making lots of little insular worlds.

    And I don’t want to be a part of that world. I want one big world where the A-List people have a louder voice than the Z-Listers like me and I keep making whatever splash I can. I want one big community, not a bunch of little ones who intentionally ignore the big one. I need Atrios and he needs us. And I’m glad he doesn’t do analysis, or I’d often be left with nothing to write about. I’m sure he could write a decent amount of my material, and I swear he might even be stealing some of my stuff. But no matter, he does what he does and I’m the better for it.

  9. So, read Atrios and link to him. You’re not one of the people I’m addressing anyway. If Atrios hadn’t linked to this post (and the only reason I can imagine he did is for some of his readers to come over here and tell me off) you wouldn’t be here. Chances are, once this thread dies down, you probably won’t be back because I don’t do the kind of blogging you’re looking for. (And I don’t need to, as Duncan already has that pretty well wrapped up.)

    (In fact, everyone else said their piece and left. I’m kind of wondering why you’re still here.Why are you still here? What are you looking for here? Because I didn’t get the sense that you were interested in quite this much discussion.)

    Again, if you’re happy with the status quo, you’re not one of the people I’m talking to. What I’ve been saying is that those of us who are less satisfied with the status quo focus on what we can change about what we do, instead of clamoring for other people to change what they do.

    As for lots of smaller spheres instead of one one, that’s already a reality. Go to Technorati’s directory, and you’ll find a whole list of smaller spheres that are more focused on particular topics. Even Dave Sifry thinks this (he calls it “The Magic Middle”) is a good thing, and I agree.

    They’re places where bloggers have readerships that a manageable enough for them to actually build relationships with their readers in a way that’s impossible with larger blogs. Some research suggests that these blogs also get more of their readers attention, because they’re readers spend more time visiting their blogs.

    And when those blogs combine their strength and coordinate their efforts, they actually have a larger aggregate readership than the blogs at the top of the curve. And when those bloggers work together, I’ve seen them take stories that more trafficked blogs would never have touched and didn’t touch until the “Long Tail” blogs pushed those stories into the spotlight and achieved results that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, because those stories would never have gotten enough exposure to come to the notice of the “top tier” blogs.

    So, those little worlds are inevitable, and there may be more happening int them than at the top of the curve. But to here you tell it, they shouldn’t exist, and most of us should just hang up our keyboards and leave it to the top 100 or so.

    But I could go on and on. I’ve actually spent a lot of time researching this in my work, in which I spend a lot of time teaching people how to find those niches where the people they want to reach are engaging. So, I spend a lot of my time promoting those medium-sized and smaller blogs whose potential is untapped. I’ve written several posts about it, and I’d link to them, but I don’t think you’d read them anyway. Analysis isn’t what you’re looking for, right?

    Atrios doesn’t need a link from me, nor does anyone else in the top 100 or so. They’ve already got inertia and human nature in their favor. As long as those two things don’t change, and as long as they keep up their pace of blogging, they’ll be fine.Whether they were first starters, the most talented, lucky or some combination of the three, lots of people will read them because lots of people already read them. Lots of people will link to them because lots of people already link to them.

    The ones that do need links are the bloggers who do good work, but are underexposed in a climate where it’s harder to gain traction than it was before, no matter how good you are. Those are the blogs I spend time trying to help people find and reach.

    But, again, if you’re satisfied with the blogosphere as it it, then you were never part of the audience I was addressing. Otherwise you’d have found the discussion long before Atrios pointed his firehose in this direction.

  10. It just seems to me that people ought not to expect to make a living from sitting around offering opinions. There are bloggers that are actually out there chasing down stories (like TPM), but those people already have the money to have a staff.

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  12. (and the only reason I can imagine he did is for some of his readers to come over here and tell me off)

    That’s the exact kind of Atrios-bashing stuff I was talking about. Because I imagine that Atrios wrote about it for another reason: To point out the insanity of what’s going on out here. That there are people griping about the problems of his blogroll purge who don’t themselves have a prominent blogroll. Or in your case, explaining why you missed the purge and why you don’t care.

    And for as much as you state that you’re not envious, you sound envious. You sound bitter. You sound like someone who is upset that you used to be part of something bigger than you are now. You also sound like someone who knows how bad that looks so you insist that you’re not doing it. But for as much as you’ve written, I still fail to see any other point to it. It just sounds like you’re trying to create a little pool to be a big fish in because you don’t want to be a small fish in the big pool. Like things didn’t work out as you had hoped and so you’ve taken your ball and gone home.

    Even your stuff about “Atrios doesn’t need a link from me” and “the ones who do need links” seems really weird. This shouldn’t be about need. This shouldn’t be about supporting people. This should be about politics and what’s going on in the world. And it seems like you’re more interested in creating a network than in shaping the political world. I suppose you’ll say that it’s important to create such networks first, but I don’t agree at all. If you’re cutting off an entire section of the blogworld simply because they’re not including you, then you’re damaging the discussion, not aiding it.

    Finally, why do you think I don’t want a discussion? Even the idea that you wrote a message that wasn’t for people like me seems really weird. You don’t even know me, but because I’m one of the people satisfied with Atrios, then I don’t belong in your world. Don’t you see how weird that is? How stifling? Again, I think your idea of lots of little blogospheres is a huge mistake. If an insular A-List world is what you’re wanting to avoid, what you’re trying to create is even worse. Sure, you’re wanting to talk politics, but only if it’s with the “right” people, and Atrios isn’t one of the right ones. It’s about your network first, and not the overall movement at all. I myself write for everyone, and am willing to discuss anything and link to anyone I need to. But you’ve set artificial limits on what you’ll read or who you’ll link to. It’s about supporting a specific network, not the entire liberal movement.

    And for as much as you’re wanting to cut-off discussion with people like me, you’ve succeeded. But to what point? Is this really what you want? I doubt it. But it doesn’t sound like you really know what you want. You know that bitterness and isolation and insular-thinking is wrong, but it sounds like that’s all you’re aiming for all the same. I’m always open for a discussion. I like differences of opinion and exchanging ideas with people who disagree with me. That’s one of the reasons I like the internet. But now I see that it wasn’t wanted because I don’t agree with you. I wasn’t one of the ones you were talking to, but rather I’m just one of Atrios’ firehose thugs who he sent over to punish you. And that attitude is the exact poison that is ripping us apart. This is bigger than personality or the “A-List”. But some people can’t seem to get passed that, and now I’m just another of the dumb thugs who doesn’t want discussion.

    Again, you act like you’re trying to create networks and aid the discussion, but it seems like you’re having the exact opposite effect.

  13. The Rock On posts and the shooting of the breeze phenomonon that is so objected here is quite misunderstood, if I may be so bold as to say!

    When I started reading Eschaton, I had read something about this blog in the Philly Inquirer.
    I tore the news paper article out but it floated about for a year or so and I never persued it.

    When I did begin to read it (and I immmediately started to post comments because that is my nature) what was evident was that within the comments were folks who were posting links to the news of the day.

    Atrios often times gets his linkee post news from his own comments section.

    That should not be understated.

    I use the comments section for the latest newsflashes as much as linking to what his posts link to.

    Plus his regular commenters are international and sometimes their news service access that is linked WITHIN the COMMENTS are extremely interesting, newsworthy and of a foreign time-zone.

    We comment section groupies get to hear the TeeVee show commentary on Sundays hours before it reaches our teevees!!!!!!! We get the news from outside US Mainstream and that it vital news indeed.

    My mian point is that rather than reduce this all to an egofuck, why not sit back and absorb that there is another side to this equation.

    I think of the left challenge to the mainstream media misinformation machine to run it all through the echo-chamber.

    The more blogs that are telling the truth, the more we hold power and talk truth to power and so we expect power to be righteous in the light of what we know truth to be.

    The A-man provides his readers these opportunity to quickly enjoin the echo and raise these questions of truth in newscasting which we all know is where America has gotten fucked through GOPer wiles.

  14. Just as a final note (I swear), but I’d just like to say that I was wrong about my initial comment. I had assumed that the point of this post was that you were upset about the purge, as others were. Because I couldn’t figure out what the point was otherwise. It was a long post but I just couldn’t seem to find any other point to it. But now I understand that your point was that you hadn’t heard of the Great Blogroll Purge and are happy to explain that it was because you’re now ignoring the A-Listers. And that’s fine, I guess; though I still fail to see the logic of it.

    But anyway, did you happen to click through to my blog and see my material? Like anything? You’re right in saying that I probably won’t be coming back here, though not for the reason you state. Believe it or not, not all of us Atrios readers are mindless sheep who only read him because everyone else does. But I don’t generally read analysis-style blogs as I already do that kind of thing and it’s too easy to just start repeating other people’s analysis, and then it becomes nothing but noise. My entire niche is based upon the idea that I’m giving fresh analysis that isn’t found anywhere else.

    So does that mean you won’t read mine? Do you only read in-network bloggers, or is it possible that the Biobrain could see some Terrance action coming his way? I think that most of my readers are all bloggers who steal my material, so it’s possible I’m already part of one of these little networks you speak of. But I honestly think my blog should be part of a bigger discussion and don’t think you’d be making a mistake by including mine in your reading habits. I don’t blog about any of this stuff, but keep it to straight politics; so who knows, maybe I’ll impress you. Give it a shot. And hell, I’ve been keeping my posts relatively short, so it won’t even waste too much of your time in any case. And I almost never post unless I’ve got something good to say…almost.

    Sure, we seem to be in utter disagreement here, but I’m not above blogwhoring to people I’ve had disagreements with. You can’t afford shame when you get as little traffic as I do. I don’t even have ads, so it’s not about money. I just think my shit’s too good to be ignored. And feel free to disagree with something I wrote and leave a comment. I eat that stuff up. Insults are welcome.

  15. Again I ask, why are you still here? From everything you’ve said, this isn’t a blog that you need to read or would want to read anyway.

    I can only guess what Duncan intended because I don’t know. He didn’t say much.

    And if I’m wrong about the “Long Tail” than I’m wrong along with a lot of experts, from Dave Sifry of Technorati to Chris Anderson of Wired magazine. It’s not a world I created. It’s what exists. That’s mainly because of human nature. As Clay Shirky said, peope “base their decisions on what other people are doing.” So when they start reading blogs, they usually start out reading the most popular, highly-trafficked ones. Their popularity is basically a recommendation (i.e. 500,000 readers a day can’t be wrong). That also applies when people start blogging, the link to the same sites for similar reasons. I did it myself, until I decided to do differently.

    What I’m saying is that there’s a lot more life, a lot more potential, and a lot more possiblity for connection further down that tail. What I’m saying is that those who want something different, need to do different. Let Atrios and the rest keep doing what they’re doing.

    And they’re not “insular” worlds. They’re actually rather well linked because almost no one exists entirely in one niche or sphere. I particpate in several myself, each related to interests of mine and issues that concern me, and each linked to others by people who do the same thing. Most of them are people you won’t see writing post along the theme of “Why I’ll Never Link to You” or “Why you suck.”

    My whole point is that people should stop worrying about the “A-List” and start connecting with their neighbors in the blogosphere, create their own networks and define success for themselves within those networks. That those networks are inextricably linked to one another is inevitable, just based on peoples’ diverse interets and the nature of the internet.

    Go read Dave Sifry. Go read Clay Shirky. Go read Chris Anderson. Go read Dave Pollard. They’ve all pretty much said the same things I’ve said in this post. I could cite them all, but I’d be repeating myself and engaging in more “pointless analysis.”

    Beyond that, we just seem to be arguing back and forth without finding much in the way of common ground.

  16. I have enjoyed posting and reading here (excuse typo-my bane).

    This discussion, I think, begs for a blogger directory.

    Wiki maybe could be approached for such an endeavor.

    What is vital is that we keep the truth afloat.
    We can beat these SOBs that would steal our county, steal our democracy and steal away truth.

  17. Terrance, I liked what you said about the long tail.

    I also liked what Phoenix Woman was saying about local blogging efforts because that is where O am coming from.

    My state of Delaware had a few bloggers starting off to which I was a faithful reader/commentor.

    After a few years I started my own Delaware blog and the culmination is that both liefty and righty DE political blogs are making local inroads.

    We are making a difference in DE politics.

    yeah!

  18. I’ve posted some thoughts about the whole thing here.

    By the way, I’d be happy to trade links, terrance.

  19. Interesting conversation Terrance and not a bad summary. From my perspective from a low level A-list blog, I’d say that the simplest thing going on is this:

    you can’t read everything.

    People really underestimate that fact. I probably read about 50 blogs semi-regularly (about 10 of which are a-listers, though not all politics a-listers). I read online newspapers sporadically, I keep up with two fairly high volume mailing lists.

    Frankly I read too much stuff online already. What I need to do is read more books and less online crap; because most of it is crap, or it’s people saying what everyone else is saying.

    As for blogrolls – I don’t control the Agonist’s list, but I have some say in it (SP’s never turned me down if I wanted something on it badly enough to ask), but on a blog where I did control it the metric would be one thing, and one thing only – do I think it’s important to read this blog?

    And that can vary, there are blogs I read that I don’t think are particularly interesting; that don’t do very good analysis or anything all that original that are nonetheless important, because they tell me certain parts of elite discourse are going – and I want to know. I read Feministing because I want to keep a foot in the feminist blogosphere, but I don’t want to read multiple feminist blogs. I think Americablog is an important blog because John Aravoisis has a real eye for the political jugular and is very good at creating and applying PR pressure to people who offend him. I think MyDD (besides the fact that Matt Stoller is my friend) is a must read for anyone who is interested in what the elite Democratic activist class is thinking.

    There are other people who do work I think is great, that I don’t read much – Glenn Greenwald for example, specializes in the sort of lengthy takedown that is very useful to have someone doing, that he does very well, but it makes my eyes glaze over to read it. I have a fair bit of tolerance for long essays (and write a fair number myself) but Glenn’s long essays are of the “I’m going to nail down this 3 inch square by pounding a nail in every inch”. Useful for destroying stupid ideas; not my idea of fun.

    There are people who I read because they know things I don’t – they have specialist knowledge I lack.

    And there are people I read because they are insightful; because they look at the world and see things that I might not see.

    But frankly, there aren’t too many bloggers like that.

    As for links as currency – yeah, they are. No question. People don’t like to talk about it, but it’s a fact.

    Finally – if people do want links, the thing to do is simply to take what you consider a really good article and contact the blogger you want the link from. Explain why they’d be interested. You may or may not get the link, but the better you understand that blogger’s material the more likely you are to get the link.

    And perhaps, just perhaps, you might consider how many messages that blogger is getting. The really high ranked ones are getting piles.

    Also, there’s something simple – the near ironclad rule of human relations – people like people who seem to like and admire them. If you don’t admire a blogger’s work; if you don’t like them as a person; odds are you aren’t getting a link. You may say that’s not the way it “ought” to be, and you’d be right – in an ideal world, everything would be based on merit. Is it a good article, or a good blog, deserving of linkage?

    But we don’t live in that world, we never have, and we never will.

    Remember – asking for a link from someone is like any other ask.

    What’s in it for the person you’re making the request from?

    Tell them that first.

  20. I should add that MyDD actually does do good analysis on a regular basis – should have broken off that paragraph. And Americablog has writers whose job is analysis and who do it well. Feministing, of course, is an aggregation blog and does very little analysis, and that’s what makes it a good read.

  21. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Ian.

    Interesting conversation Terrance and not a bad summary. From my perspective from a low level A-list blog, I’d say that the simplest thing going on is this:

    you can’t read everything.

    That’s something that I’ve actually acknowledged in previous posts that people either don’t remember of haven’t read. I read about follow about 200 to 300 blog & news feeds every day, and I can’t read everything either.

    Human nature is one part of the equation, and human limitations are another.

    And perhaps, just perhaps, you might consider how many messages that blogger is getting. The really high ranked ones are getting piles.

    I know. I’m somewhere in the middle and I get a lot myself. But not so much that I can’t respond to it. As I tell the people I talk to in blog trainings, bloggers that are somewhere in the middle may actually be more responsive.

    Remember – asking for a link from someone is like any other ask.

    What’s in it for the person you’re making the request from?

    Tell them that first.

    I long ago stopped asking for links. It never really did any good. Besides, I’ve had at least one experience where I’ve posted about a story and sent it to one such blogger, only to have them explain why they weren’t going to cover it. So, I kept covering it along with several other blogs nobody’d heard of, until we managed to get it in the media. Then the previously mentioned blogger covered it, without linking to any of us as far as I could tell. The icing on the cake came much later, when that same blogger was credited with “breaking” the the story in the blogosphere. Of course it’s not important who gets “credit” as long as the story gets out….

    Plus, the bottom line is that there isn’t much in it for them. Linking to me an other mid-level bloggers isn’t going to increase their traffic, their ranking, or much else.

    By the same token, though, linking to them doesn’t benefit me much either. It doesn’t increase my traffic, ranking or much else, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to link to or read my blog.

    Linking to other blogs somewhere in the “Magic Middle” does have more potential for mutual benefit. We’re more likely to read each other, exchange links, and share traffic.

    It makes much more sense than linking to blogs that aren’t going to reciprocate.

  22. One issue is that the A list bloggers may not be writing about what we want to hear about so that is why we make our own spheres. I want to hear more about women of color, so I like to read women of color blogs. I want to hear about radical feminism, so I read the rad fem blogs.

  23. I can say that I don’t recall ever not responding to anyone who sent me a message – I don’t always use what people send, but I respond (mind you, I don’t get tons.)

    I will also note, that with the decline of trackbacks, you often don’t realize who’s linking to you – especially links that don’t give a rush of traffic.

    Anyway, I think middle ranked blogs can benefit from high ranked blogs, but it requires building a relationship or someone falling in love with your posts, and one is work (that often won’t pay off) and the other is serendipity.

    However, in general I tend to agree with you – I give the same advice to my clients – build relations with the small and medium bloggers and in time the big boys may, or may not, notice you.

    Dislike for the A-list isn’t just part of the liberal blogosphere, it exists in the business and tech blogosphere’s too, and even for a big client, that dislike is something I want to avoid. Linking down is smart – it isn’t just about traffic, it’s about relationships, community and who has your back. And every blogger is eventually going to need people to have his or her back.

    I will also note that there are a few liberal blogospheres even at the a-list level. The old boys (DeLong/TPM/Yglesias/etc…) are quite distinct from the activists, for example – the linkage between the two spheres is minimal.

    As for not getting credit – happens all the time. I write about things long before they break and someone else who writes about it when it breaks big somehow becomes the expert on it. I’ve come to accept that if you’re too far ahead of the curve (and that means, ahead of the curve pretty much at all) you aren’t going to get the credit.

    One thing – I understand the reasoning behind having your blogroll on a seperate page for loading reasons, but honestly, a blogroll that isn’t on the front page will give a lot less traffic to those on it.

  24. Just one correction. I do have a blogroll on the front page. I always have. I even moved it closer to the top of the sidebar since this discussion started and changed the heading to “This Is the Blogroll.” It’s a reciprocal blogroll.

    The only thing wrong with it, from what I gather, is that it’s a drop-down list instead of a regular list of links. One of the reasons I chose that format, actually, was so that I could have a longer blogroll than I would otherwise. But if a regular list of links is the only right way to do it then perhaps I’ll have to return to that format, or put a random list of links from the blogroll on the sidebar that updates automatically.

    But I’ve also added a “What I’m Reading” list to the sidebar, that promotes posts from the blogs in my regular reading rotation.

    Will that suffice in order for me to offer observations on the general subjects of blogrolls and links?

  25. Will that suffice in order for me to offer observations on the general subjects of blogrolls and links?

    Nothing wrong with your observations. If I didn’t think they were insightful I wouldn’t have bothered to comment.

    It remains the case, however, that I would be astonished if a non-standard blogroll like you have doesn’t drive less traffic than a standard one. Certainly I could be wrong, and having more blogs on it, plus a faster load time, apparently outweights that disadvantage for you.

    I do like your “what I’m reading” feature. Very nice.

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  27. it occurred to me recently that the difference between those that bemoan the blogroll purges and those that think it’s much ado about nothing is that the former believe(d) that blogging can help coalesce progressives into a viable and tangible political force in this country, and the latter pretty much think blogging is about sitting around and shooting the breeze.

    Not really. At least in my case: I -do- think blogging is a real tool for activism; it’s just that i don’t necessarily see that in the same way the folks at the “top” do. Building real change takes time and starts from the ground up. Kicking recalcitrant politicians is all very well, but frankly it’s only a very small, albeit probably the most visible, certainly the most “glamorous,” part of what we think of as “politics.”

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  29. As for not getting credit – happens all the time. I write about things long before they break and someone else who writes about it when it breaks big somehow becomes the expert on it. I’ve come to accept that if you’re too far ahead of the curve (and that means, ahead of the curve pretty much at all) you aren’t going to get the credit.

  30. I have basically independent contracted out my blog roll to a script controlled by someone else. It got to be too political and people were getting ridiculous with their requests. someone once offered me $40 bucks.

    I will say this. I think the perfect mist on traffic stats is coming from links from other blogs, hits from the search engines and people typing in the URL directly. Anytime I get too many hits from any one of those sources I can tell. that being said, I am not a commercial blogger so whether two or ten thousand folks read the blog, I’m good.

    the focus for those struggling after blogroll purges might be to find another derivative product to make money.

    Occasionally i will get linked to by a diary of one of the big blogs, but I don’t even operate in their world to a certain extent, I think you should focus on your niche. I was once featured in a major magazine and for months I had to deal with emails from people who didn’t read the blog, had no clue what it was about and felt the need to comment. My motto is more page click more problems. I have stopped looking at my traffic numbers.

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