Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What is the Purpose of a Blogroll?

Professor Shugart over at Fruits and Votes made and interesting observation the other day during a discussion of recent changes to his website. During a discussion where he mentioned his criteria for updating his blogroll he stated, "I suspect I use the blogroll far more than any readers do, so if I don’t like a blog, why blogroll it?" Which hit on what I consider to be and underlying argument for purpose.

Professor Shugart, who I agree with on this proposition, is arguing that the primary reason for a blogroll is a kind of shared bookshelf for a particular blog. A blogroll in this paradigm would be a list of blogs that the author enjoys reading, or at least visits regularly, that he or she thinks people of similar interests might visit. But whether others visit the sites or not is of little consequence because the utility to the host blogger is sufficient reason in this model.

As I stated, I agree with this model, which is why our primary blogroll is so diverse. I have few, but a couple, of partisan/political blogs. On the left there is Daily Kos and Liberal Avenger. While on the right, we have Moxie and Odysseus. There are a couple of blogs by people who are conservative/liberal, but that the blog is of a pop-culture/personal opinion orientation, Cathy's World and Luke Y. Thompson's blog come to mind. A couple are extinct and will soon be eliminated. Right Wing Dodger Fan is a co-worker with the man who directed Ace Ventura, so I hoped he would post, but he hasn't in forever so I will remove him by the end of the week. Most of our blogroll links hit sites covering my, and others, interests on this blog and account for my daily routine. I visit Fruits and Votes for some quantitative and qualitative electoral model discussion, along with conversations about fruits and baseball. There are screenwriting blogs by the aspiring, the direct to DVD employed, and the blockbuster author. Things that interest me.

But I also have a separate blogroll which fits into another paradigm. For me it is what I would term both and "advertisement blogroll" and a "potluck blogroll." I signed up for the "homespun bloggers" link with two hopes in mind. First to increase readership of our bizarre corner of the web. Second, to find new things to read.

So it seems to me that blogrolls can serve three purposes, or combinations thereof: the living bookshelf, self-promotion, or grab bag. The question is, "is there some kind of moral/ethical standard which should be applied to blogroll use?"

Is there a kind of sleazy factor to the person who joins large cycling blogrolls, if they never intend to visit other sites on the blogroll?

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