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To Blogroll or Not to Blogroll

To Blogroll or Not to Blogroll

I have been thinking about removing my blogroll in a new design. My blogroll needs updating but instead of reconsidering the blogs in my blogroll I have been thinking about removing it altogether. Not only is it outdated, the blogs I want to link to are subject to change and I rather link to blogs through blog posts than through my blogroll.

Currently I mainly link to friends from university and some other people writing about new media. My blogroll is pretty coherent as it reflects the focus of my blog but what about the other people I want to link to?

I could categorize the blogs in my blogroll or use an external service to update and manage my blog. I could pay more attention to my blogroll and update it once in a while. Or I could remove it.

The blogroll is one of the canonical features of the blog. The term was presumably coined by Doc Searls on December 17, 2000 and is often refered to as

The section of a weblog that lists the sites that the blogger reads on a regular basis. This is usually located on the side of a blogger’s frontpage, or on a separate page linked off of the frontpage. (Winer, 2003)

An early attempt to list all blogs was made by Cameron Barrett on Camworld in November 1998. This original list is still available on his blog and is now published as his blogroll. “The original blogroll” resembles both a blogging community and an early blog index. With the growing popularity of blogs index and search engines such as Eatonweb came into existence.

See Also
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Blogrolls are a personal index of blogs that need attention. I am currently neglecting my blogroll and have a hard time letting go of it because it seems such a standard feature of the blog.

Have you removed your blogroll? What was the reason? Do you consider the blogroll a canonical feature of the blog?

View Comments (22)
  • In my case, the blogroll was a part of my lazyness. Instead of bookmarking every blog I read, I had that list on my blog and clicked through it. Nowadays, all the blogs are xml’ed in Google Reader and I barely click on the links in the blogroll. If there is space in my current design, I include the blogroll, if there is no space, I leave it… So my answer to your question is no. No, the blogroll is not a canonical feature of my blog.

  • I removed my blogroll a long time ago because I felt I need not tell the whole world who and what I read. Plus, everybody I read is already listed in my feedreader anyway.

    Plus, my feedreader will also inform me which are the updated blogs (but a blogroll can’t do that, except if you’re using a Blogrolling script).

  • I see the blogroll like the about page. The blogroll mirrors your interests, your subjects in your blog and potentially your friends. Its also one more way of communication between blogs, one more way of interaction. I find the blogroll fundamental in blogging and I enjoy browsing the blogroll of other bloggers.

  • I love my blogrolls. One, it’s sort of like props – I like someone enough (or they like me enough) to always be linked up. This ties in with one excellent way to meet and become friends with other bloggers because they notice you have them in your roll.

    Two, I get lots of good hits from other people’s blogrolls so I hope they’re not done away with.

    Three, I agree with robojiannis, it does show a big chunk of you and your blog’s personality. I often can tell if I’ll like a blog based on the blogroll.

    Four, it keeps my basic blog networking in check. I use my feeds yes, but I don’t use feeds for everything. It’s easier for me to visit people in my niches by way of my blogroll. Then my feeds stay clear for news and pr releases.

  • I use my blogroll like Jennifer does.
    Blogs about related subjects often get links from within my posts, but other blogs I do like have a place in my blogroll.

    And as Jennifer, I like the hints I get from someone elses blogrolls

  • Good point, Anne! I never used a blogroll. If I would link to sites I read often it would be a very long list.

    Besides, why would I want to send free traffic to other web sites? Isn’t it enough to backlink to them in a post?

  • I enjoy looking over blogrolls on my favorite blogs, especially if the blogger is selective in building his/her list. I’ve found some of my favorite blogs that way. When I relaunched my blog in WordPress a few months ago, we set up my blogroll on a separate page. It was the right solution for me, because I feel the blogroll is a benefit to readers, and yet I don’t want my sidebar to be a mile long.

  • If I like what a blogger has to say, I always check their blogroll. I don’t want to see every blog the author reads, but I want to know what blogs the author finds relevant. It gives a little more insight into the author and has helped me identify some really great blogs, including this one.

  • I have removed my standard blogroll. Instead I now and then blog about a blog I like and have a blogroll tag.

    I link out a lot and that way readers can see which blogs I follow on a regular basis.

  • When I redesigned my site, I used a theme that doesn’t prominently feature a blogroll on the homepage (its on a separate page) and I never saw a reason to include one. Hence, I’m quite happy with the relative cleanliness of my design and adding a blogroll would only clutter things up.

  • I have something of a blogroll page on my site that features several categories of links. But overall, I’ve come to prefer providing the kinds of links that most often inhabit blogrolls within my blog posts rather than in a static list.

    In-line links give me the opportunity to not only offer the link, but also “sell” it – that is, explain to my readers/visitors why I think the link is worth clicking.

  • My blogroll is mostly family and friends — I read far too many blogs to put them all in the list. I’ve also linked to my other blog there, and I put a little “updated” tag on it whenever I put up a new post on the other site.

    Every time I add someone to the blogroll, I write a little “welcome” post introducing him or her and encouraging readers to visit.

    Sitemeter tells me a lot of readers use the blogroll, so I definitely won’t be getting rid of it.

  • I removed my blogroll a long time ago. It was hard keeping up with so many people starting blogs, then not updating anymore.

    Nobody reads blogrolls anyway. Better to link from posts and be involved in social networks. Who spends their time on an island reading notice boards?

  • I see a lot of pros en cons in the comments that also passed my mind. I see my blogroll as relevant recommendations, yet I don’t want a “mile long” blogroll that needs constant updating. While post links are a different type of recommendation they seem more relevant.

    I receive traffic through other people´s blogrolls and it feels like a matter of politeness to link back. But politeness and function are two different things that need consideration.

    I thought the remarks regarding the blog’s design were particularly interesting. A separate page or a blogroll tag or a theme without a blogroll. I wonder how many themes have removed the blogroll in favor of the design. Or is it in favor of function?

    I think my ultimate decision will lie in how form will meet function.

  • I think blogrolls are useful for handing out link love, but they tend to take up too much space when you get anywhere north of ten links.

    I put together Better Blogroll for WordPress so that people could keep their blogrolls, but not make them be a distraction on their sites.

    Maybe this might help you?

  • I think that blogrolls are ok, but they are not used for the purpose they were created. You want your visitors to use the blogroll to check out similar content from perhaps some of your site’s writers.


  • Blogrolls are good, i use the grouped blogroll plugin, so i can have 2 seperate blogrolls,… one normal and one i use for my articles published on other sites, works good for me!

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