Carnival of the Vanities, RIP

Zeuswood has announced the end of the Carnival of the Vanities, the granddaddy of all blog carnivals.

Carnival of the Vanities is closing for lack of interest.

The four year edition was the final test. If a heavily promoted, major landmark in the life of a historic, hugely influential blogospheric institution can’t get links or traffic – not to malign those who did come through for us, thanks! – and not even from many people with a stake, then there is no hope for it week to week. It’s just another way to get links; ironically, without having to write stuff so good or provocative it would have a better chance of generating links on its own. CotV was supposed to help ensure visibility of your best, since most of us have written great stuff that sunk into the blogosphere without so much as a ripple. And links aren’t even the prestige thing they once were. Heck, it’s the readership that matters more, and CotV doesn’t bring that.

All good things must end.

I hosted the 43rd Edition of the Carnival in a little over three years ago and it was a ton of work but brought welcome linkage and traffic. Still, as was apparently the case for most bloggers, my interest in the carnivals ended quite some time ago. (Indeed, see this post on the subject from October 2003.)

Partly, it’s because OTB grew big enough as not to need them as a traffic gimmick. Especially since, over time, they stopped generating much traffic. Mostly, though, there are just too many blogs and too many blog carnivals out there to bother with them anymore. When the likes of Michele Catalano and the late Rob Smith were submitting every week, it was worth wading through the Carnival to see their best posts. Over time, though, the number of bad posts outweighed the good.

The Blogosphere is gigantic now compared to what it was in 2002 or, indeed, 2004. The Carnivals, much like the Ecosystem, are unsuited to an environment where millions of blogs are trying to gain attention by any means necessary.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Environment, Uncategorized, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dean Esmay says:

    I don’t think carnivals are outmoded. I think a generic carnival like COTV is outmoded. It was designed for a much tinier blogosphere, when there just weren’t all that many of us.

    Many of the specialty carnivals continue to do quite well, and to be a good way of bloggers gaining attention. I’ve picked a few that I link, and they do well. Not that they do well because of me, but the point is, they help people interested in certain specialties–like medicine, home schooling, business, etc.

    The Carnival of the Vanities simply had no clear purpose anymore: “Anyone who wants to can submit anything they want.” No point really. It was like having a magazine called “Magazine” that had random articles every month. Charming for a bit, but ultimately futile.

  2. Jay says:

    I commented over at Dean’s, in response to his post centered on his comment above, and said:

    This is the historical significance of Carnival of the Capitalists; spawning the concept of niche carnivals, prompting the common use of “carnival” in the names, establishing the practice of a special e-mail address and a home page for info on the carnival, and firming up the definition of what is a carnival. It showed that a niche carnival could become significant, even more popular than the original, and ultimately attract a higher level of quality.

    People still use it as an obligatory thing, entering any old post that they can just for the link whorage, but it’s not that bad.

    The sad thing is that with my hours of work a week, week in and week out for just under three years, about the time I started trying to figure out how to monetize it a little, Blog Carnival came along and monetized all of them for someone who barely had a clue what a carnival was but had a relative who could instapimp the ride for him. That is the way in which carnivals have perhaps jumped the shark. There’s someone there with a stake and an enabling influence to ensure that an absurd degree of nicheness happens. Do we really need a carnival of nose picking toddlers, carnival of HP camera foibles, carnival of the literature of spider robinson, and that sort of thing?

    I’m not even convinced we need carnivals of marketing, entrepreneurship, finance, stocks and whatnot, all of which are already covered by and usually categorized or not that hard to locate within CotC. All those are is an exercise in maximum linkurbatory satisfaction. On the other hand, for people with a specific interest, they don’t have to look as hard for that one topic, and have no idea that a few bloggers are in all those sub-niche carnivals regularly just because they can be.

    I tend to think of Blog Carnival as an overtly fantastic idea that was the worst thing ever to happen to the carnival concept, and might have been even done differently or by someone else.

    Ultimately, though, CotV was indeed doomed by lack of focus, and by inability to be, essentially, a carnival of quality writing. Even had it become that overnight, readers and linkers wouldn’t have come back. CotC becomes the oldest and still most popular.

  3. Kehaar says:

    After reading all the challenges, I don’t know if I want to take this on or not! But I feel that I have to make the effort to keep CoTV alive. It may not be as strong or useful as it used to be, but it did help quite a few bloggers “grow up”. Who knows where some of those bloggers would be without the original Carnival?

    I have some hope that CoTV can be saved. I think it’ll have to morph somehow, but hopefully we can keep it going for a little while longer. Thanks for all the help and support you have shown CoTV over the years. It obviously wouldn’t have survived this long without people like you.