|A pretty decent representation of both views side by side.|
I don't disapprove of the first idea, but I find it rather flawed. I am on twelve other blogger's blogrolls (that I know of), and all of these bloggers have been around longer than me. And since I don't "advertise" my blog anywhere other than Twitter, I think it's safe to say they get a lot more hits than me. And yet, the most any of these blogs has gotten me in terms of traffic is about sixty-three pageviews. All-time. My blog is hardly a hit machine, but that's pretty darn insignificant compared to my total view count and the amount I get daily. I imagine it's even worse for them, considering how low-profile my blog is. While I realize blogrolls are probably more lucrative for other blogs, it still forces the question, "Why do I have a blogroll? Because it's definitely not for traffic, for me or them."
The answer is that my blogroll has never really been about exposure. I mean, if you've found a new blog through my blogroll, I am overjoyed, both for you and them. But really, how many people actually visit the blogs I've listed there? I know how many views the page has gotten, but I sincerely doubt that even half of those resulted in a new reader for those blogs. No, my blogroll isn't really about exposure. Instead, it exists as an affirmation of sorts. My blogroll is a list of those blogs I endorse, but more than that it's a lost of those blogs I love. I love reading the posts on them, hearing their authors' thoughts, or just browsing around. It's always been that way, ever since I first made it. The first three blogs I put on my list were all blogs that didn't return the favor. I doubt the authors ever read even one of my posts (well, I know one of them did, but that stopped quickly enough). This still happens to me now. The last time I did a "link exchange," I immediately added them to my page. They did not. My blog's name still appears nowhere in their sidebar, and I don't mind. Every time I add a new link, I recognize that I'm making a long term commitment, and that most of the time it's a one-sided thing. With four exceptions, all of the blogs on my list have been there before I appeared on their lists. And I think that's fine, because it's not about me. My blogroll is how I express my admiration and devotion to the blogs that appear on it and their owners. It's how I let them know that I am a fan. To me, my blogroll isn't part of an economy. It's a full-blown confession.
That's why I put a lot of work into it, and why I encourage others to do the same. I give my precious set of links their own page, I alphabetize them, and I write individual annotations for each because that's how much they mean to me. I once said on Twitter that my blogroll page is my favorite post, and that's really quite true. Now, if you've read my annotations, I imagine they come off as very suck up-y and solicitous, with me making it sound like each one is the greatest thing ever. Surprising as it may seem, however, those aren't just words. While I admit some of adjectives and superlatives might be a little over the top positive, I really do mean what I say. Of course I want to put them in the best possible light, but I don't make stuff up. I spend the time thinking about what I like about these blogs and how I should say it, adding them to my reading list, putting them in their proper alphabetical order, and double-checking the links because it's the amount of work I put into it that makes my blogroll meaningful. As I said, my blogroll is like an affirmation of respect. It's like a statement, saying "This is the work I'm willing to put in for you, and the reason I like you." My list has meaning precisely because I put work into it.
So anyway, that's my views on the subject. I realize, however, that not everyone is as fervent about it as I am. I also recognize that such approaches become increasingly difficult as the amount of blogs on the list increases, and that other people don't put nearly as much meaning into things as myself. So let me ask you: what is a blogroll to you? Do you disagree with me and think it's just a way of increasing hits for both blogs, or do you think it carries meaning beyond that?