Sunday, August 28, 2005

Linkposts, Revisited

Mikko Saari commented on my Linkposts entry:

I noticed Yehuda had a something of a negative attitude for blogs that link to other blogs instead of creating their own content, but I think maintaining the network with new links every now and then is a good thing for everyone involved.

The full post is here.

The second part of the above sentence doesn't really match what I was saying. What I was saying was that the most popular blogs seem to be nothing but links to other blogs with pithy comments thrown in.

Just look at this post. I start off with a note about a comment someone made on another blog. Then I quote it, then I add a pithy comment. For completeness, imagine that this post ends right after the previous paragraph. Now imagine that my entire blog consisted, day in and day out, of nothing but posts exactly like that.

My question is: why are the most popular blogs like this? As one of the commenters pointed out, this phenomenon seems to be a repetition of what happened in the early days of the web - web sites that contained nothing but links to other websites. Yet, today, the most popular websites are just that: Yahoo, Google, About, etc...

Ultimately, these blogs are beginning to act like "blog portals", the place to find what's out there in the blogosphere, or on the web. If you follow through to these sites, you can find new and interesting points of view, and new blogs to follow. If you don't, you are basically reading the blog headlines.

Why does this bother me? Frankly, I don't know. My instinct is that these people are making a living off of the work of others. Doesn't make sense really. I admit that they are providing a service - the good ones are doing that elusive act of compiling worthwhile reading material.

One thing that troubles me is that so many people start off with their own content, run out of things to say, and continue by posting pithy comments about other sites. I think if you find yourself doing that, odds are that you should bow out.

What Mikko was saying is that the "forum" aspect of the Blogosphere, such as this post, is a positive thing. We are cross-linking, giving and taking, creating the blog web that supports all of us. I think this is a good thing (although one wonders why we can't just have this discussion on a forum).

To support what Mikko is saying, I will add that I have links down the side of my blog's web page, but show of hands: how many of you actually go to my web page? Most of you read this using RSS. Unless I mention sites in my blog posts, people who only read my posts are not going to find out what else I read (unless they go to my bloglines feeds page

So my point is, and I do have a point, if you want to focus on being a portal to other blogs/web sites, focus on that. If you want to create content, focus on that. Have something to contribute, do it well, and do it frequently.



Mikko Saari said...

Yes, I perhaps misquoted you a bit, grabbing on to the general feel of your post than your particular point. Or so.

Anyway, I think one shouldn't underestimate the value of the links from high-popularity link sites, be it blogs like Boing Boing or news sites like Slashdot.

Web works that way - there are few sites with huge amount of readers and a huge amount of sites with few readers. Pointers from the huge to the small mean a world to the small.

You do have a point there: if linking is something you do, just to make up some content because you can't come up with anything to say, it's probably a good idea to stop and think about it a while.

Some people are great writers and some are great editors, and a good editor shouldn't waste his or her talent on writing mediocre stuff, while they could be doing something more valuable.

You have a good point, there, about blogrolls. Everybody has a blogroll, but you'll never see that unless you visit the site. That kind of ties in with my post: how about linking to the sites you mention every now and then, if they have a good entry? That way feed readers see the links, as well.

Anyway, it's fun to have some conversation here and I can definitely agree 100% with your final point. (Well, not 100% - I wouldn't stress frequency that much. People who use services like Bloglines are probably very lazy to remove feeds that aren't updated - you can keep your readers with a surprisingly low frequency of posts, if they're good.)

Chris Brooks said...

This goes back quite a while actually. In the "early days" of blogging, blogs were either classified as filters or content blogs. Filters simply provide links to other news items or blog entries, with commentary. Like you, I have little reason to read such blogs but clearly some people find them valuable. Content blogs are what you and I write - mostly original content with infrequent posts that are simply links to other posts.

Yehuda said...

My readership is about 40 or 50, and my friend's daughter, who wites Jewlicious, gets 50,000. Her blog is basically links with pithy remarks. Lots of them are about sex or politics. I think if you Google "Jewish boobies", hers is the first blog. She also makes a lot more money (read: a living) off her blog than I do.

Of course, you can't really be taken seriously in the world of blogs if you are using a default template on blogger, like me.