I woke up this morning to an e-mail threatening to reveal to “the entire blogosphere” that, when mailed a request to be added to my blogroll at 17:44, I might not comply by 23:21. I hereby confess to this transgression outright.
Apparently, Steven Taylor also received the same messages, proving that we’re both “immature.” I must say I find this very odd, particularly since I had previously corresponded several times with the individual in question trying to assist him in improving his fledgling site. Not to mention that it’s quite possible I would have actually added him to the blogroll had the second message not arrived before I could read the first.
Nonetheless, to avoid hurt feelings in the future, I hereby provide the Official OTB Blogroll PolicyTM. There’s no felicific calculus of blogrolling a’la Steven Den Beste. My view on blogrolling is very similar to Don Sensing’s: I blogroll the sites that I think I’ll likely want to revisit regularly because I find them interesting, amusing, or otherwise worthwhile. Rather simple, really.
To answer questions that some of my e-mailers have asked, here is my Blogroll Policy FAQ:
Will you trade links with me? Sort of. If you blogroll me and I find out about it, I’ll add you to the reciproll.*
I love your site! Will you blogroll me? Yes, if I love your site, too. But if you’re not already on the blogroll, chances are. . .
Why haven’t you blogrolled me? Maybe I’ve never read your site. Or, maybe I have and I thought it sucked. Or maybe your site’s pretty new and isn’t quite ready for prime time yet. Or maybe I actually like your site and thought I’d blogrolled you already but actually didn’t.
If I give you a $100, will you blogroll me? Well, actually, no one has asked that. But, yes, I will. I probably won’t even delete you once I’ve spent the $100.
The bottom line is that, over time, your site will build a readership and links if it’s of interest to enough people. You have to write about something that interests a large number of people, write reasonably well, and otherwise distinguish yourself from the crowd. There are 10-15 “big time” bloggers who have done that extremely well, getting tens of thousands of visits daily. There are another 150-200 who are widely read and/or linked but who need linkage from the big timers to get mega traffic.
There’s a lot of competition out there, as dozens of new blogs start out daily. But sites break through all the time–several of the highest traffic and/or most linked sites around have started in the last year or so. Wonkette surpassed my first year’s traffic her first three weeks. But there are sites that have been around for years and can’t seem to get more than a couple hundred daily visits. The sites that don’t catch on fall into several categories: 1) Damned well written blogs that either appeal to a niche audience or are updated too infrequently to become a daily stop; 2) sites that are nothing but link dumps; 3) sites written on a third grade level; or 4) sites that are essentially personal journals that really aren’t intended for a larger audience.** There are a couple of types 1 and 4 on my blogroll but no 2’s and 3’s. Indeed, if you’re a 2 or 3, it’s unlikely getting on InstaPundit’s blogroll is going to help much, let alone mine.
*I started the Reciproll very early in OTB’s history to express appreciation to people for noticing me and, frankly, as a link whoring gimmick to help gain exposure. It long ago stopped having much use in the latter sense, in that the rungs on the Ecosytem ladder are now 40-50 links apart and it’s almost always very small sites linking me at this stage. Scanning daily to see who had added me and making a big deal about it in a post is something I stopped doing months ago. Still, it’s an easy way for smaller sites to get a couple extra hits a day and get some exposure. I also check the reciproll semi-randomly when compiling the Traffic Jam, as I like putting in a link or two from more obscure sites to both give them publicity and provide a value-added service to the readers since they’re, by definition, unlikely to have seen the linked entry. [Update: I finally deleted the reciproll, as the chore of updating it–and keeping track of who linked me for the purposes of inclusion and then promptly deleted me–got to be more trouble than it was worth.]
**The list isn’t exhaustive. For example, there are infrequently updated niche link dump sites written on the level of a third grade personal journal. But you get the idea.