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Creek Running North

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May 06, 2005

Why I took Lauren off my blogroll

It's been a while since I've blogged about bloggers blogging about blogging, hasn't it?

I write here because I like to have people read my work. That's it. If I can make some money at it, that's lanya lugnya lagniape gravy. I am not so pure of artistic motive that I would continue to write if I knew no one was ever going to read any of it.

I could not really care less about my blog's "rank," whatever the hell that is, or whether I am a mover and shaker, or an "A-list" or a "B-list" blogger or what have you. I was happy with this blog back in 2003 when Pica and Beth were the only ones reading it, and I'm happy with it now that I seem to get about 400 readers a day. When the 200 daily fundamentalist Christian googlers all get raptured next week (that's right, pack your bags, folks! The comet's on its way!) and my readership drops back down into its rightful place in the low three figures, I won't mind. As long as someone finds enough worth in my work to leave a comment, either fawning or furious, I'm content.

To that end, I am pleased and grateful when someone links to the ol' Creek, here, becauuse that means a few more potential readers come my way. And as a polite person, I like to return favors. Every once in a while, I scour all of the internets to see who's linking to me, and if they aren't raving right-wing lunatics I'll put them in the "reciprocal links" list to the left. If they're really worthwhile sites, I bring them up to the shorter, categorized blogroll as well.

Apparently that's a bad thing. Shelley of Burningbird posted a provocative essay this week in which she said, among other things,

[T]o every weblogger who has a blogroll: you are hurting all of us.

The reason: blogrolls at large often tend to favor "A-list" bloggers, and a few artificial and arguably destructive blog ranking schemes (the otherwise useful Technorati has one such, and the truly awful "Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem" another) entrench that A-list into a fuzzy oligarchy.

"Fuzzy oligarchy" is fun to say. Try it!

Shelley also says that no one finds blogs through blogrolls anymore, and then later said that the hundreds of people who left comments on blogs discussing this issue who say they routinely find blogs through blogrolls were missing the point somehow.

I'd like to say that this whole incident shows excellent timing on my part. Shelley's a good and entertaining writer, and I've seen her on a lot of blogrolls. I usually take looks at blogs I see on more than two or three blogrolls compiled by people I respect. I didn't, for some reason, do so with Burningbird. If I had done so with any other post, I would very likely have added her to my own blogroll, thus wounding her horribly.

Lauren, on the other hand, has not only been on my blogroll for some time - she has one of the best blogs around, and she's been gracious enough to link to me a couple times, boosting my readership on those days by a figure somewhere in the high dozens - but occupied a relatively prominent spot at the top of the "political" category. And Lauren agrees with Shelley, and has dropped the blogroll from her own site as a result.

So Lauren, I'd like to apologize for hurting you by having had a prominent, semi-permanent link to your site on my front page. It's gone now. Please forgive me for the offense. I meant well.

I confess I'm still having a little trouble wrapping my head around the implications of this new idea that blogrolls are bad. I understand and agree with the criticism of the ranking schemes that favor straight, white, rightwing male bloggers: that's why I naïvely set out to make sure to add blogs whose authors don't fit into some or all of those categories. I understand the criticism of the blogroll echo chamber idea, which is part of why I keep people like Roxanne in my blogroll, because I know she'll never add me to hers as long as I keep rubbing in the fact that I work six blocks from Cafe Trieste, while she's stuck in DC (with occasional forced marches through the museums and cafes of Paris, which are of course squalid and largely inferior to those in San Francisco). [Roxanne added me. Oh, the insult and indignity of it all.]

But it seems a little odd to me that some people who denigrate the "A-list" bloggers seem to do so because they want to become "A-list" bloggers themselves. And because maybe two dozen self-important and largely overrated bloggers occasionally say inflammatory and stupid things about those below them on the big metaphorical fire escape, the people on the periphery of the "A-list" are starting to demand that the mechanism that propelled them to their current position be dismantled because they found a wall when they got there.

Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. As Oscar Wilde is reputed to have said while looking at the stars from his gutter, "For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing that they like."

I guess I'm not hep to the cool blogging jive. To me, it looks a lot like the rising class fighting the ruling class by punishing the proletariat. Blogrolls don't work well to get you from the "B-list" into the "A-list," so you respond by taking away the thing that allows us "Z-list" bloggers to find one another. The Democrats lost big in the last national election. By this logic, they should be arguing that we do away with elections to school boards and sanitation districts and town councils. When Burningbird becomes the new Atrios as a result, how do we in the rabble find the blogs where we can complain about how Burningbird has gone way downhill since 2006? ("It's all 'open thread' and 'wanker of the day' now! How much effort does it take to write a link and say 'oy.'?")

I've got an alternate solution. Criticize the old boys' network. Link to other blogs that do so. Revel in your "toenail fungus" status in the Cross Eyed Bear Ecosystem. (Only the biologically ignorant disdain microörganisms. Microörganisms rule the earth.) Barrage Kevin Drum with clever insults when he says yet another insanely stupid thing about women bloggers. Send people to other blogs, and other sites, in whatever way is the most efficient for you.

And turn the damn computer off sometimes. It's warping your sense of priorities.

In any event, I now have to find someone else to take off my blogroll, because my blogroll is already just 47 percent female and I'd hate to inadvertently give support to the Old Boys Network by lowering that even further. So sorry, Duncan, but you're gone too.

Posted by Chris Clarke at May 6, 2005 08:05 AM TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.faultline.org/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/1066

1 blog(s) linking to this post:

Blogrolls, Ego-Surfing, and General Stupidity.
Excerpt: This is all Burning Birds fault. The Technorati Top 100 is too much like Google in that ‘noise’ becomes equated with ‘authority’. Rather than provide a method to expose new voices,
Weblog: aldahlia
Tracked: May 6, 2005 10:43 AM
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Comments

Hmmm....shall I assume that my site does not appear on your Incoming Links list because I'm male?

CP

Posted by: carpundit at May 6, 2005 09:17 AM
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Heh. No, that's just because I'm behind on updating it. My careful scrutiny of your gender, political correctness and credit rating doesn't kick in until I promote you to the sorted list above.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at May 6, 2005 09:29 AM
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That's pretty much what I wanted to say about this current round of wounded-ego and stupidity.

Posted by: aldahlia at May 6, 2005 09:35 AM
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People get weird about the most stupid things. The worst thing one can do is to bitch about who's in the know, etc. because it just makes one look even more small. Personally, I couldn't care less who's in the top 25 or 2500. It's not me, either!

I got the link to your blog off Lauren's comments. I like what you said, and I am adding you to My blogroll. How's that? :D

Posted by: Moi ;) at May 6, 2005 09:51 AM
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Well, I will happily continue to be politically incorrect, then. I was incredibly pleased that morning a few months ago when I discovered that you had linked to my blog, and the more I read of your blog, the more pleased I am about this, too. I am eagerly looking forward to the day when I get to meet you, too.

GrrlScientist

Posted by: GrrlScientist at May 6, 2005 09:56 AM
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Hi Chris...What a pain in the ass you are. Please
try to get over yourself.

Embrasos, Melinda

Posted by: Melinda at May 6, 2005 10:09 AM
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The interaction between blogrolls and rankings is quite complex. Feministe wasn't in the blogroll of my toenail-fungus blog, but I'm going to put her there just to drag her down with me.

Kidding. I wish Lauren all the best on her rise to the top (remember the little people).

Posted by: mikez at May 6, 2005 10:22 AM
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Melinda;

It sounds like we must have met. I apologize for not remembering you. Welcome anyhow.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at May 6, 2005 10:36 AM
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Excellent response to this silly blogroll discussion. Perhaps a bit harsher than I would have put it, but not at all unwarranted.

That reminds me. I've been enjoying your blog for a few weeks now, and it's time to add 'Creek Running North' to my own list.

Posted by: P.M.Bryant at May 6, 2005 10:39 AM
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Perhaps a bit harsher than I would have put it, but not at all unwarranted.

Wow, a new blog motto!

Posted by: Chris Clarke at May 6, 2005 11:03 AM
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Geez, I don't even have a blogroll to not have one of anymore yet. I just feel all outgroup 'n' highwater-pants now.

Wait, are highwater pants still not out again? I can't keep track. I'm still aesthetically bewildered by pointy eyeglasses.

Posted by: Ron Sullivan at May 6, 2005 11:16 AM
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Chris,

If political correctness is a criterion, you and I both know my blog is never moving up to your top list, so save yourself the review time.

I look forward to my inclusion on your lower list because I'm trying very hard to move up through the ecosystem. (Oops. Should have kept that to myself.)

CP

Posted by: carpundit at May 6, 2005 11:33 AM
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You an' Rox reminded me that my blogroll needed an updating.

This whole debate is ridiculous. I click through random sites on blogrolls. I think others do to. I get a hits from other people's blogrolls. Linking is good, ain't it? They can never be canonical, and mine doesn't reflect my own blog-reading habits all that well, but they serve a purpose.

Oy. I'm taking a break from all meta-blogging until at least next fall.

Posted by: Alex at May 6, 2005 11:35 AM
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And people should still click through to Burningbird and Feministe if they find them on blogrolls, because both are excellent blogs despite my snarkiness. And I can say that in comments, because comments are different from a blogroll. I think.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at May 6, 2005 11:54 AM
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Oh and Carpundit, yours is far from the least PC blog I read with any regularity. You're going to have to try harder to lower your standards.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at May 6, 2005 11:55 AM
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I had the same reaction as you to this.

Well actually my reaction was "wtf!?!?!" but I think that's pretty much the same thing.

Posted by: craig at May 6, 2005 12:45 PM
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You're not on my blogroll? Okay, I'm adding right now.

Posted by: Roxanne at May 6, 2005 12:52 PM
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I scour all of the internets to see who's linking to me, and if they aren't raving right-wing lunatics I'll put them in the "reciprocal links" list to the left.

Do you actually have right-wing lunatics who unironically link to you?

And turn the damn computer off sometimes. It's warping your sense of priorities.

You goddamned heretic. Take that back.

*hugs PowerBook*

Posted by: the_bone at May 6, 2005 01:45 PM
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This is so ljdrama! Too bad it's not on LJ.

Posted by: Adam Fritzler at May 6, 2005 02:03 PM
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Do you actually have right-wing lunatics who unironically link to you?

Yep. In order to slam.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at May 6, 2005 03:13 PM
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It's not blogrolls that's keeping my blog down, its alphabetical order. DOWN WITH THE TYRANNY OF ALPHABETICAL ORDER!!!

Posted by: Dave at May 6, 2005 04:02 PM
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Thanks for that lagniappe, Chris (which I know how to spell since I worked on my college yearbook, Lagniappe). Had no idea such a thing was going on in the blogworld. I'm seeing the real world these days, but popped over to see how famous Guardian contributors were doing these days. Cheers.

Posted by: KathyF at May 7, 2005 11:45 PM
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