Sunday, February 03, 2008

Happy Blogroll Amnesty Day

One this date in 2007, a widely-read blogger implemented a blogrolling policy under which people only need link to blogs that they read and are free, on this day, to remove unread, or unworthy, blogs from their blogrolls.

At the time, I didn't communicate with many other bloggers - I still don't really, but am starting to - and had a small blogroll myself. So, I didn't see much of an issue with the widely-read blogger's wish to prune his links. Who doesn't want a clean blog?

However, I was stunned by the blogger's desire to "shoot people in the face" for complaining about being unlinked. I commented on his strange desire:

Wow, that's a long post.

I like to click through the sites I link at least a few times a week. So, I don't have a ton of sites linked.

But, like I said last time this came up, it's odd to read someone so widely read complain about people complaining that they aren't.

I wonder what it is about this that gets Atrios angry. After all's said and done, he's in the driver's seat wrt his links section.

I think it was that comment that led Jon Swift to contact me and offer me a link to his views on the blogrolling amnesty topic. At the time, I still held the provincial view that there is no harm in deleting unread blogs from your blogroll. I couldn't quite understand why people were getting so heated about linking to, or unlinking from, each other. I responded to Jon with a quickly written and unintentionally naive note:

I had read through some of your post, as linked by Eschaton, before you contacted me. I love your post on Conservapedia. I'm happy to blogroll you.

I have a couple of thoughts on the blog amnesty issue. First, I think it's a bit odd that Atrios considered the reworking of his blogroll something that warranted not just an announcement, but an entire day, for all to observe. I'm not sure he intended such a grandiose gesture. Maybe he was making a remark that would otherwise be considered "off the cuff" were it not immortalized by the web.

It's also curious that he is so aggravated by people trying to get traffic and expressing concern that they aren't. He's posted more than a few notes complaining that people are complaining to him about not getting links from him, traffic, etc. If he considers sending an email complaining about such things annoying, you'd think he'd consider blogging complaints about such complaints insult on injury.

I actually don't understand his annoyance.

If I had been him, I probably would have added a "Things I'm Reading Now" section to my sidebar.

All of that said, I haven't been one of the folks making arguments against amnesty day or complaining that I'm not getting traffic. I blog for my own satisfaction. If people read me, that's nice. If not, that's less nice, but ok. Complaints from me would also be hypocritical given the small size of my links section. I add blogs and sources that I read almost daily. I tend to click all of my links on a daily basis.

Mostly, I find his angst/drama over who he links and who complains about it curious. I would figure him thicker skinned.

I didn't have a well-developed understanding of the tradition of networking and traffic generation that smaller bloggers (and if people like Jon are smaller, I'm micro!) had worked hard to cultivate. Without meaning to, I was dismissing a very cool thing: many people with small voices coming together to form a loud voice. Jon's original post on the subject and the post he's written this year are both nice pieces outlining why links from other bloggers are important.

As of this post, and in celebration of this high holiday, I am officially changing to a policy of blogrolling anyone who blogrolls me. Actually, I've kind of had this policy all along. I can't remember refusing to link to someone who's asked me to. But as I said above, I'm not all that outgoing in the blogosphere. The difference for me now will be my openness about my policy and an admittance that I was wrong in not understanding peoples' hurt feelings and decreased traffic due to the amnesty day. Exceptions to my new overt linking policy will include denying links to evil people and marketers.

I've been wondering what I can do to commemorate this day. My rambling statement above is part of what I've decided to do, but I've also thought of something else. Since I'm not great at contacting people, I thought I'd make a list of people I have contacted, either through email or the comments on their blogs, and discovered good people on the other end of the great tubes. To a large part, it's the decency of these folks that's kept me open to linking to and communicating with other bloggers. In the spirit of this holiday, here's my top-four most accessible bloggers:

1. Jon Swift - One of the nicest people I've corresponded with in the blogosphere. Jon's satirical posts are always worth reading.

2. Pam Spaulding - Pam is one of the most simultaneously logical and passionate bloggers out there. Her posts and appearances on CNN make me proud to be a regular commenter, and occasional diarist, at her site.

3. Jonathan Schwarz - Author of a great blog that offers alternative and sharp-witted views on politics and corporate media.

4. Dennis Perrin - Dennis is a straight guy whose posts make me rightly question my knee-jerk distrust of straight guys. This goes for Jonathan as well.

I suppose that I could have created a list of bloggers I've contacted and received either zero or negative communications with. But that wouldn't really be in keeping with the holiday.