In his post Reconsidering blogrolls (and what the heck are "folks", anyway?) Uche Ogbuji writes

In Shelley Powers entries "Ms Pancake" and "Let’s keep the Blogroll and throw away the writing", I've learned that there is some controversy about blogrolls. When I threw together Copia I tossed in a blogroll, which was just a random list of blogs I read. I hardly worried that the list would grow too long because I have limited time for reading blogs.

Shelley's posts made me think about the matter more carefully. To draw the basic lesson out of the long and cantankerous points in her blog entries (and comments), a blog is about communication, and in most cases communication within a circle (if an open and, one hopes, expanding one). Based on that line of thinking, Chime and I had a discussion and thought it would be best if rather than having a "blogroll" list of blogs we read, we had a list of other Weblogs with which we have some more direct and reciprocal connection. This includes people with whom we've had personal and professional relationships, and also people who have taken the time to engage us here on Copia. There is still some arbitrariness to this approach, and there is some risk of turning such a listing into the manifestation of a mutual back-slapping club, but it does feel more rightly to me. We do plan to post an OPML as a link on the page template, so people can check out what feeds we read (if they care); this feels the right compromise to me.

I was going to write a lengthy counterargument to the various posts by Shelley Powers about blogrolls then wondered whether the reason I even cared about this was that her writing had convinced Uche Ogbuji to drop me from his blogroll? Wouldn't I then be justifying some of the arguments against blogrolls? It's all so confusing...

While I'm still trying to figure this out, you should read Shelley's original post, Steve Levy, Dave Sifry, and NZ Bear: You are Hurting Us and see whether you think the arguments against blogrolls are as wrong as I think they are.


Monday, 16 May 2005 00:15:26 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Considering some of the people we *did* uncomment from the listing, It would truly mortify me to think any of them would be offended by that action. 25hoursaday is one of the first blogs I ever read regularly. According to the criteria Chime and I adopted, that alone wouldn't be enough to think of you as in our "circle", but you and I do have a "more direct and reciprocal connection", which is reinforced by the fact that you even noticed the change on Copia. Just now I uncommented and completed the pointer back here.

I never looked at the links we commented out as any sort of deprecatory move. Our intention was always to reconsider them one by one, and I honestly expect that over time we'll end up adding most of them back. I have a lot of people with a valued mutual connection, but concerns about the length of the listing no longer trouble me very much. At the very worst case, I can turn to technology, using some sort of rotation mechanism in the listing, or whatever.

I do want to point out, though, that I don't think discussion of our (now reversed) action of commenting this pointer out changes the basic position on blogrolls I took up based on discussion on Shelley's site. I also read all the comments on her site, both pro and con, and I still value the distinction between blogs w just happen to read, and those with which we have some more direct and mutual connection. I would love to read your expanded thoughts on the matter (I saw your comment to "Mrs. Pancake). I freely admit that I'm learning from veterans such as you and Shalley in this whole discussion (and a lot of others probably are, as well).
Monday, 16 May 2005 02:32:43 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I just read Shelley's original post, and frankly my reaction was "are we not taking ourselves just a *tad* too expletive-deleted-seriously?".

It Doesn't Matter.
Monday, 16 May 2005 16:55:14 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
You might recieve this post twice (part of a CommentAPI functionality experiment). Anyway, Shelley raises a really important issue which actually highlights what is more than likely a flaw in the concept of blogrolls. I certainly saw you vanish from Uche's blogroll, and I was really curious about the underlying algorithm that lead to this (I suspected that Uche wouldn't have done this by hand :-) ).

Blogrolls are static and to some degree completely ambiguous, what are they really? My published blogroll is at most .01% or lower of the total blogs that I subscribe to, and actualy read with varying degrees of frequency.

I see intersection of the thinking associated with "attention.xml" and the fallability of the currently ambiguous and totally static blogrolls as the real matter here. We need to track conversations on a federated as opposed to centralized basis (or at least a combination of both). Thus, blog owners may have to consider adding Conversation-,Referrer-, Referenced-Rolls to the mix. The same treatment should apply to .opml and .ocs style subscription lists. Naturally, this would be at the blog owners sole discretion etc.

Monday, 16 May 2005 17:49:27 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
There is a social and technological aspect to blogrolls. The fact that to some degree a blogroll is a way for people to indicate what community they belong to and/or share links to people they find interesting, it is social. Whether the blogroll is static or dynamically updated is an implementation detail that is wholly technological.

The fact that Technorati uses blogroll links as part of their mechanism for calculating 'authority' is quite broken from my perspective and too easily gamed. Just a few short months ago they had to scramble because they were counting the various links in the 'Updated Spaces' and 'Newly Created Spaces' modules that exist on millions of spaces. We've since used rel=nofollow on these links to prevent other simplistic link calculators from being similarly confused.

Going back to social aspect of blogrolls, I liked the fact that one could go to Uche's blog and find links to other Nigerians who were doing interesting things in the technology industry. I don't think the fact that Technorati would use that link to count one more point of 'authority' to our URLs is any reason to stop doing this. We shouldn't change social behavior due to design flaws in software.

As for blogrolls being static or dynamic, to me this is just an implementation detail and where there is a will there is a way.
Monday, 16 May 2005 19:59:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

I think it does matter, but not for the reason Shelley goes on about. I don't see blogroll politics as some great social issue, or any special manifestation of discrimination in technology. What I latched on to more particularly were her thoughts about how a Weblog is a little community marked by close, personal ties to other Weblogs.


I've learned an important lesson from the fact that both you and Dare noticed that he went missing from the Copia blogroll. We hacked at the blogroll in a bit of a careless manner and that was wrong. We always planned to go back and fix things as we clarified what those links actually meant, but things got in the way, and the result looked worse than the intention.


Good points.

"I liked the fact that one could go to Uche's blog and find links to other Nigerians who were doing interesting things in the technology industry."

Very important note. I think it's very fair for such a dispersed group as we are to have these sorts of mini-hubs.

"The fact that Technorati uses blogroll links as part of their mechanism for calculating 'authority' is quite broken from my perspective and too easily gamed."

Yikes! That is friggin' broken, and perhaps helps explain some of the sensitivity of this issue when Shelley took it on.

I only vaguely know about Technorati as the predominant blog tagging/searching service, and the more I hear about them the more I wonder whether they are a damagign force.


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