Saturday, November 26, 2005

Because Cross-Linking Creates Community....

Ron Brynaert, who writes the most excellent Why Are We Back in Iraq? (and has been linked in the NY Times, of all places), recently wrote a great piece on titled Blogroll Purge about--what else?--purging his blogroll of links that do not link to him.

Ron's discovered that it doesn't pay to link to people who won't give *you* the time of day and link back. He's realized what I realized when I started doing this blog-thing on a personal level--that if you're not linking back and forth to each other, you're not creating community.

If you're not linking, and you're not creating community, you and others with whom you share common ground, stand to lose--in many ways. Ron sees it thru a political lens. In Blogroll Purge he notes how the right seems to have a big thing about all that linklove, but the left seems to be as snooty as a Hollywood double-cheek airkiss. Ron is very right to note that this gives right-wing bloggers more clout in the blogosphere. It gives them more links to more supporting viewpoints, that's for sure.

I see it in simple, social terms--if I like you enough to link to you, just link back. If I find out you've linked to me, I'll link back to you. Kiss, kiss--Link, link.

I've heard the excuse from some bloggers that they will not link to someone who links to them because they think the linking blog doesn't reflect their blog's sensibilities. Please. Are all your friends exactly like you all the time? Blogrolls should be about diversity. We should be able to demonstrate that we aren't so fixated that we can't read content that isn't completely parallel with ours. If we want to shatter the image of blogs as being nothing more than echo chambers (and, believe me, MSM loves to tout that bit about us), listing blogs that are not our mirror image shows that we're open to being more than navel gazing diarists and that we can converse with others.

And even if someone IS a navel-gazing diarist, if the writing's good, then I just might link. If someone's a Rush Limbaugh right wing, Shania Twain-lovin' navel gazer....well, I might have to think a couple of times about that....then again, they'd have to think twice about me, too...

Now, yes, there's the problem of A-listers and links. There are indeed A-listers who get far too many requests for links from their blogs to the rest of the blogosphere. I tend to think that A-listers should just be left to themselves--unless we're lucky enough to establish peer-to-peer communications with the ones who are open to such a thing. Some are, some aren't. Many are no longer providing permalinks, but many will provide postlinks which can be great for us Upstart bloggers. But I don't believe it's necessary to immediately link to A-listers when we start our blogs to prove something about ourselves or about our blogs. What are we proving? That we can give a link to someone the rest of the world already knows about?

I link to a few "A-list" types, but that's because it's easier for me to go to their blogs from my blog. It's also way for my little blog to show up in their stats. If they bother to look, it *may* get them over here. No other reason that that.

Further, how A-listers want to handle their blogrolls and links is up to them. If you think about it, some of those A-list blogs aren't even blogs in the same sense that many of us are the sense that they are not looking to interact and build any kind of community. They are content providers, that's it. If you're into reading their content, then read it. But don't look for community in a space dedicated just to telling *you* what's what.

Likewise, if some blogs have a huge number of comments, but the blogger (or bloggers)let the comments ramble like an unmoderated USENET newsgroup, then let them be just that-- unmoderated USENET newsgroups. Personally, I don't participate in blogs of that sort. Why should I? I had my share of Forums/Newsgroups years ago with alt.goth and the New York Times Film Forums. Forums are one kind of social software and blogs are another. I'm posting on a blog to get to know the blogger and his/her commenters who also blog--I'm not interested in numbskulls who don't know the first thing about blogging and probably hate bloggers but love to leave comments on blogs because they think blogs are their new Forums.

So, the message is easy: those of us out here in the Long Tail--well, we need to work together, support one another and give each other that permalink when we discover we've been linked to. (If I've missed anyone in my blogroll, let me know. I'll provide a cross-link)

And if you think the whole blogroll thing's too much of a pain-in-the-ass, but you still want to give props to posts or people you think are great, then postlink...which I will do right here for Sean Coon's blog because he recently postlinked on his blog to mine.

Gotta share the linkluv, baby! Purge that deadweight! provide that perma or postlink! Because if we don't, there's no community. If there's no community, there's no point...

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Dawno said...

Although I agree with you for the most part, I also feel that some of the links I provide are PSA. I have been putting up links to all the blogs of the members of Absolute Write who either have them in their signature lines or have posted them in the AW blogger's thread. Since I moderate that forum, I think it's an obligation. That said, not everyone gets into "People" those are the ones I go to with great regularity and try to comment at when it makes sense.

I can see the point of Ron's purge - and maybe someday I'll do the same, but for now I just like filling up all that space in the sidebar :-)

Do you think mgqifugh is an adjective or an adverb? I love the word verification...

Jon Garfunkel said...


I have to say this about Ron-- a fellow member of the Z-List-- his heart's in the right place. And yes, his observation was what the Adamic/Glance paper concluded.

My website Civilities has no blogroll. I link/reference/cite within articles as need be, and expect no quid pro quo. You use the term "postlink"-- I am fine with the conventional words of cite and reference. And remember also, I'm not clear if I am supposed to be "creating community." I do research.

I do need to find interesting people (such as yourself). I practically *never* find interesting people through blogrolls-- how can I pick one name from a huge blogroll and just suppose that it's something interesting to read? Remember, I discovered you through the comments on a popular blog.

On the other hand, I have a list of blogs I try to read-- and I wouldn't mind if bloglines summoned the nerve to indicate how often I check them. That would bring some honesty to the whole system. I asked Bloglines for that a year ago.

As for the quid pro quo, the whole problem in the first place is using Google PageRank or Technorati link-rank as a metric. If we want a system for people give to props which can be aggregated for recommending sites, we can design it. No one's done it yet.

Tish Grier said...

Dawn....I understand what you mean by PSAs. Because you are already part of a particular community like Absolute Write, promoting your friends blogs via links from your blog isn't a bad idea--if you are comfortable with that. Alot of how one links depends on the intention of the blog and blogger. I think alot of folks don't consider the intention of their blogs--or the intentions when the blogs start are nebulous. Sometimes it's hard to sort out the reasons for blogging in the cacophany of crapola out there that screams at us about monetization and that tell us what our blogs are supposed to be if we're going to get that interaction we seek. Do we do this thing to be read? to provide the oft-bantered term
content --whatever that's supposed to mean? or are we doing it to offer advice/entertainment and thus make money from the advice/entertainment we offer (via ads)?

There are also advantges to keeping classified blogrolls. Jeff Hess at Have Coffee Will Write (listed in my blogroll) keeps different classifications. I have a separate classification for links to people whose comments on cit. jorno I respect. But if that kind of thing is too time-consuming, then one has to find a method of keeping a blogroll that works best for him/her...

and yes, I love the word verification thingies...I've never seen the letter "q" used so often in my life...

Jon With your blog, it's easy to see that its intention is somewhat different from other blogs. Yours is more of a research-oreinted 'zine than is the average blog. Your way of doing things may work quite well for other academics wishing to interface with the world of blogs but don't quite get some of the terminology or even if what they have to offer will be relavent to the blogosphere...

Although similar to citations, postlinks, I think, are slightly different, as they can be general as well as specific. They also do not need to be directly related to the entire content of a post. (frankly, I have trouble with the word "content"'s a crappy, industry specific word that muddies the waters of what is done in alot of blogging. I specifically hate the term "kick-ass content" as it's so yesterday and sounds like a balding CEO trying to understand hip-hop)

As for blog links, I often find good blog links from postlinks vs. blogrolls (although I have found some folks thru blogrolls too) The value judgement we pass on a blog (good/bad) is often contingent on what we are looking for. When I read for personal reasons, I look for blogs that have a certain kind of personal content. When I am reading blogs to link to this blog, I am reading for another kind of the intention of each of my blogs is very different. I also think not just about whether a link from another blog will suit my needs, but also if a link from my blog will help them.

There's alot about the technologies available that can be refined--and new stuff that has to be built. But the funding for building these things is, right now, at a premium. Blogs are, still, according to new Pew research, read by only 3% of internet we're still a niche/subculture.

spcoon said...

thanks for the love, tish. it is all about community.