Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

5/06/2005

Don't kill the messenger

Apparently, the latest manifestation of blogosphere self-obsession is a bizarre backlash against blogrolls, of all things, as well as the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem, which ranks blogs in terms of how many other blogs are linking to them. I haven't been paying too close attention to this, but I think it started with a post from Shelly at Burningbird:

NZ Bear, you are hurting us. With your Ecosystem, you count links on the front page, which give precedence to blogroll links over links embedded within writings, and then classify people in a system equating mammals and amoeba. Your site serves as nothing more than a way for higher ranked people to feel good about themselves, and lower ranked to feel discouraged. There is no discovery inherent in your system — no way of encouraging new voices to be heard. So NZ, you are, also, hurting us.

Yes, how dare you, NZ Bear, so blatantly and insensitively create a system that accurately reflects reality!

This reminds me of the silly accusations that Brian Leiter's Philosophical Gourmet Report is 'damaging' the profession.

Look, is it true, or is it not, that some blogs are more popular than others? Is it true, or is it not, that some philosophy departments are regarded more highly than others?

As much as you might not like these facts, that is what they are--facts. So you're going to attack NZ Bear for reporting them and making the information available? Why?

Does the availability of this information affect the nature of the blogosphere? Probably. Opinion polls during election seasons probably affect the nature of the campaign. But that doesn't mean we should do away with polls. The Ecosystem is very straightforwardly providing us with information--which blogs get linked to the most. If you don't think this information is relevant, or helpful, then fucking ignore it. No one's forcing you to keep a daily vigil to see if you've been upgraded from a 'Marauding Marsupial' to a 'Large Mammal'.

But at least I can understand the hostility toward the Ecosystem. What I don't get, though, is the anger toward blogrolls:

In fact, to every weblogger who has a blogroll: you are hurting all of us.

Rarely do people discover new webloggers through blogrolls; most discovery comes when you reference another weblogger in your writings. But blogrolls are a way of persisting links to sites, forming a barrier to new voices who may write wonderful things — but how they possibly be heard through the static, which is the inflexible, immutable, blogroll?

So for all of you who have a blogroll, you are also hurting us.

If I had a wish right now, I would wish one thing: that we remove all of our blogrolls and take down the EcoSystem and the Technorati 100 and all of the other ‘popularity’ lists. That whatever links exist, are honest ones based on what has been written, posted, published, not some static membership in a list that is, all too often, stale and out of date, and used as a weapon or a plea.

I would suggest the same for your syndication lists, too–when did you last update it to reflect those sites you really read? I would be content,though, if centralized aggregators such as Bloglines stopped publishing the number of subscriptions for each feed. After all, what true value is this information?

Then we would all start fresh. It would be a new start, and the emphasis would be less on who we know and who we are, then what is being said.


So you don't find the information valuable, therefore it should stop being published. WTF? And let me say that it is bullshit that people rarely discover new blogs via blogrolls. I know that for myself, at least, a good proportion of new visitors do in fact get here by clicking on a link in someone's blogroll.

Disturbingly, this anti-blogroll madness is spreading. Feministe:

I’m no longer including a link list on the blog. Having thought about the points that Shelley made about blogrolls and linking practices, I decided that not only was my blogroll becoming too lengthy to be of use on the blog (and terribly difficult to load on my dial-up connection), but that those that I link will be statistically better off with my regular roundup posts.


Okay, for one thing, get a fucking DSL connection. For another, what Chris said:

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.

...

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 ...

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.


I've got yet another alternate solution for the anti-Ecosystem, anti-blogroll folks: Get over yourselves. Write about what you want to write about, be grateful for the visitors you get, even do what you can to get more. But don't launch hysterical attacks on people for being popular (like Kevin Drum), or on those who document their popularity (NZ Bear). Look, the reason Instapundit sucks is because he's a fucking dumbass, not because his blog is ranked as a 'Higher Being.' And people can bitch about Atrios all day for not 'putting enough effort' into his posts and just throwing up a link with 'Oy' or 'Bobo's World' as a caption, but there's a reason that he can do that--because he built a following by creating a quality site which has grown into a community. This is why he gets 600 comments on an open thread.

But maybe I'm being too harsh; maybe I'm just in a pissy mood and there will be an apology here tomorrow.

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