Saturday, March 05, 2005

Some blogrolling advice (and a little advice from me, too)

From the blog of Jennifer Rice, a marketing consultant: Some basic advice on maintaining one's blogroll. For those who don't know, a "blogroll" is that list you often see running down the side of someone's site, simply showing the sites of which that blog author is a fan. Ms. Rice makes a good point, which is that a large blogroll produces increasingly diminishing returns; linking to three sites, for example, almost guarantees that your visitors will visit all three, while linking to 60 almost guarantees that they'll visit none of them. She encourages bloggers (and especially business-oriented ones, whose blogrolls double as professional networking opportunities) to develop a personal "policy" for their blogrolls - in other words, to determine specific criteria by which they will include a site on their link list, and to examine each link on that list for these criteria. Of course, you can also run your blogroll as a separate document, and especially when your RSS reader automatically generates a public list of such links for you (here's mine, for example, courtesy of; that kind of defeats the purpose of promoting sites of which you're a particular fan, though, in that hardly anyone will click over to another site just to check out links you recommend. (That's not my aim with my particular blogroll, which is why I don't care if it's an external document.)

I thought, by the way, that this blog entry was originally going to be advice on how to properly link to cited content, that a blogger might be highlighting in any given entry...which, by the way, is another particularly important thing for all bloggers to contemplate. Let's just start with the fact that you should always cite all relevant sources for an item whenever you blog about it, and especially other blogs that may have tipped you off to a news item to begin with; legally-speaking the issue is murky, but socially-speaking (especially in the case of social-networking activities like blogging), you're producing a lot of bad karma in your life by linking to a news article, but not acknowledging the person who originally pointed it out to you. (For example, I have Wayne Hurlbert to thank for pointing out Ms. Rice's post that I've now blogged about myself. Thanks, Wayne!)

Once you've adopted this policy, the question then becomes one concerning the proper way to formally link to such "referrer" posts. When it comes to this subject, there is no "right" way to speak of, and no official organization (like the Chicago Style Manual, for example) off which to base one's actions. You saw how I did it above, with a parenthesed little break in the actual entry. Or, sometimes I enfold it right into the entry itself, ala:

As reported by Wayne Hurlbert, marketing consultant Jennifer Rice...

The sites under the Gawker Media umbrella, on the other hand, generally leave the referring link out of their comments altogether, and instead run it as a self-explaining stand-alone link after the completed entry:

Link: Wayne Hurlbert's original post

I've even seen links more formal than this, which I admit adds what I consider a bit of formal journalistic elegance to a post:

Original link | Blog Business World | March 3, 2005 : 10:42 PM

Whatever method you in particular choose, it's important to be doing such linking with each new entry. And it'll certainly make your readers happier if you pick one or two of these types of methods and then consistently stick with them - consistency breeds loyalty, after all. Anyway, just some things for all bloggers to be thinking about these days.