Blogroll Reboot

Coming soon: updates to the blogroll. Your help is needed in a couple of ways.

1. Whys & wherefores

First, I’d like to hear your thoughts on some concept questions. What is a blogroll for? Should blogs/sites listed there be seen as “endorsed” in some way? If so, by whom—SI users in general? The admins/moderators? And if these sites are selected because we want to commend their content in some way, how far should that commendation be seen as extending and how do we communicate where it ends?

(Most of you probably are aware of this, but it might help to point out that the blogroll just automatically feeds items in from the selected blogs. SI doesn’t have any control at all over what the writers produce or how often.)

A more basic set of questions centers on “why?” The original set of links—and then the later tool that included info on each blog combined with a feed of recent posts—rolled out before my time. I don’t know what the primary or secondary aims were or what kind of thought went into selecting the featured blogs.

Regardless of the original aim, we have a need to tweak the blogroll concept, or revamp it completely, or maybe just dispose of it entirely. What are your thoughts?

A few things are pretty obvious: the original blogs were selected because somebody liked them. That’s usually how blogrolls work.

Wordpress.com

As bloggers we often link to our friends, our favorite posts, and popular web sites. Links make the Internet what it is. Without them it would be very hard to get from one site to another. WordPress.com gives you many different ways to use links on your blog.

The Links menu in your dashboard can be used to create a blogroll. A blogroll is essentially just a list of links that appears in your sidebar. The term “blogroll” was originally used because it was a list of links to other blogs, but you can include links to any sites.

Wiktionary.com

blogroll
Etymology: Blend of blog +‎ logrolling
Noun: blogroll ‎(plural blogrolls)
(Internet) A blogger’s list of hyperlinks to other blogs that he/she recommends.

Webopedia

Found on blogs it is a list of links to other blogs and Web sites that the blog author commonly references or is affiliated with. Blogrolls help blog authors to establish and build upon their blogger community. In Web 1.0 terminology, a blogroll would be the equivalent of a list of hyperlinks on a personal Web page.

See “The History of Blogging” in the Quick Reference section of Webopedia.

WhatIs.com

A blogroll is a list of blogs, usually placed in the sidebar of a blog, that reads as a list of recommendations by the blogger of other blogs. While often indicative of the political affiliations of a blogger, these lists may also include many other kinds of recommended media, including newspapers, journals, books or companies.

2. Nominations

We can make some working assumptions. Assuming for now that we keep this feature going in 2016 but give it a reboot in Q1, we’d like to hear recommendations from SI readers. What blogs have you found interesting, edifying, important, etc.—as well as active enough to watch regularly?

Susan is going to be coordinating that effort, so please send blog recommendations to her. In this thread, we’d rather avoid criticism of blogs, but if you have negative (but thoughtful) feedback on some of our current blogroll selections, pass that on to Susan as well by private message or accountsadmin@sharperiron.org.

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There are 11 Comments

Jay's picture

I think we should keep the blogroll, and put the list of blogs up for SI membership to vote on (or off).  So there would be a sticky thread - maybe in the 'featured discussions' - and then a poll. I'd nominate PyroManiacs and Challies for sure, but am not sure who else off the top of my head. Maybe the GTY / Ligioner blogs?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Greg Linscott's picture

The original idea 10 years ago was to draw attention to the burgeoning communication platform of blogging, and especially to those who self-identified as Fundamentalists or at least had Fundamentalist roots. I'm not sure you have the same climate today as you did 10 years ago, in blogging. One thing I did in that first year was have a regular post feature called Weblog Watch, that highlighted specific individual blog posts. Maybe that's a concept that could be revived or tweaked in some way--even if you are today highlighting conversations taking place in other venues like Facebook or Twitter.

As to Jay's specific suggestions, I'm not sure the examples mentioned need SI's general highlighting. Individual posts could be mentioned, but you already have a venue for that with Filings.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jim's picture

  • Blogroll .. so 2005
  • Google Reader (actually started in '05 but I started using it about a year later)
  • Feedly after Google

The new way:

  • Twitter and use 
  • Twitter lists 

 

Jay's picture

True, but there's no downside in terms of cost or materials - although there is for staff time - and it's a good way to draw attention to superior writing or especially interesting takes by people that might not normally get noticed.  

 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Greg Linscott's picture

I understand, Jay... but to put it another way, there's only one Drudge Report. Smile What you have to ask yourself at that stage is how is the Blogroll highlighting in a way that the Filings column isn't already accomplishing.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

One of the things that is clear is that the situation is different. Self-identifying fundamentalists who blog ... well, that raises questions "what kind of self identifying fundamentalists who blog" would we want to put there? There are now (and maybe were in 2005) other venues for aggregating links to one niche or another. Like FundamentalTop500 for example.

Greg could speak to this but I think there was some idea of a particular niche back in the early days... and that seems unavoidable.

Another option to throw out there: Filings doesn't have to stay the same either and highlighting selected blog posts weekly (or some other interval) and using Filings exclusively for news outlets is an option.

Greg Linscott's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
 Self-identifying fundamentalists who blog ... well, that raises questions "what kind of self identifying fundamentalists who blog" would we want to put there? There are now (and maybe were in 2005) other venues for aggregating links to one niche or another. Like FundamentalTop500 for example.

Greg could speak to this but I think there was some idea of a particular niche back in the early days... and that seems unavoidable.

Well, we tended to stray away from KJV only types, though I did occasionally highlight people such as Kent Brandenburg. We also didn't go as broad as Phil J and Pyromaniac, because he fell slightly out of the orbit (at the time because of his own identification as well as our thinking, though things softened on both side with him), and he had as much or more of a following as SI did, so it seemed foolish to make him a regular Blogroll feature. In those earliest days, it was important to "direct traffic," because so many people were doing it and note everyone knew where to go to find the conversations. Whatever else, it seems now that the conversations are not as plentiful as they were at the beginning, for a myriad of reasons.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

josh p's picture

Is this a moderator discussion that I shouldn't be seeing?

If not, my opinion is to end the blog roll. As was mentioned above, and whether it is legitimate or not, any site listed may be viewed as "approved." A qualifier could precede it I suppose but it may be better to just end it. Many filings are posted by individuals anyway and there are also contributions from many of the bloggers themselves.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Your comments are quite welcome, Josh. ... open for any and all.

We have disclaimers of one sort or another on Filings and also on Blogroll, but I do still occasionally hear feedback that suggests confusion about that. It's probably not entirely avoidable, so that's OK. Especially in the case of Filings, what's there should be seen more as "We thought you might want to know about/comment on this..." rather than "Here's somebody who's telling the truth."

But this is a difficult concept for some. (The difficult concept for me is why that's a difficult concept for anybody. Smile )

Blogroll, on the other hand... because it feeds content from selected blogs on a regular basis, it's not the same animal. And in Web custom in general, it's a kind of endorsement of sorts. But a couple of things should be true:

  • Should go without saying that there isn't anybody at SI who agrees w/100% of what appears there 100% of the time.
  • Should be possible to communicate some boundaries/some very general criteria for selection.

On the first the point I accept that there are always going to be some who don't get that.

On the second, we've never really systematically developed standards and a formal selection process.

Ed Vasicek's picture

I could go either way. I rarely look at the blogroll page.  I suppose popularity of the page might be a good criteria to determine whether they should be continued.  If so, Aaron's discretion could be a simply strategy!

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