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Some thoughts on killing your blogroll

Keenan is killing his blogroll, mostly because it sucks to decide what’s on it and what gets left out. He worries about how that makes others, and himself, feel.

I get it. When I finally (re-)published mine awhile back—after a decade-long absence—I found it far more stressful than I had anticipated. And I wondered if its utility was actually worth it.

Back before sites offered rss feeds, I’d use my own blogroll to surf my favorite sites as an easy way to find the latest posts, more like set of public bookmarks than a recommendation list. We don’t really need to do that anymore—rss works much better for keeping up-to-date on what’s been posted on the sites you read.

But we still need easy ways to discover new sites, and to share interesting sites and pages. I still want to be a part of a human-curated network, sharing the great things that people are doing and writing about.

Recommending friends

Part of my own angst in putting together a new blogroll was that I wanted to link to a lot of people I really like—many of them are “we travel to see each other” level friends, but…I don’t actually read their stuff very much. This made me sad.

Most strikingly, it’s because so many of them don’t post to their own website regularly at all anymore. They did, at one point, but of course that all got swallowed up in social media, back when the platforms were still centered around social interaction—not general entertainment or shopping apps that had simply duped us all into providing an endless stream of free content.

And the ones that did regularly post are doing so because they view it as a business—they’re specifically building an audience they can monetize. It’s not about their own lives or thoughts or ideas or dreams or projects, it’s about The Top Five Things to Bring On Your Next Trip – Summer Gift Guide 2024, or The 7 Best Summer Activities in [someplace I won’t be visiting this decade].

“It’s nothing personal, baby, it’s just business.” For me, these seo-heavy posts aren’t things I’m dying to read, unless I’m actively looking for that specific information1. Even if they’re something my friend wrote after going there (oh, if I could have just seen a trip journal post instead!)

I mean, I dearly want to support my friends, but I’ve been having a severe allergic reaction dietary intolerance to the whole influencer/social-media-side-hustle for years now. Perhaps I should just avoid it for a while and give my digestive system a break.

Recommending writers

I also included a long list of newsletters I have enjoyed. Of course, as soon as I started listing them out, I realized that I’m in a bit of a lull in newsletter reading this last half-year or so, and that I don’t actually read even half of issues I’m sent right now. That’s not because any of them have gotten decidedly worse, it’s just that my interest in their main topic has chilled a bit. They’re still good reads I’d recommend; I’m just browsing in a different aisle of the bookstore now, that’s all.

But…hmm. It feels a bit odd—maybe even performative—to recommend others read something that can’t be bothered with, at least right now.

But, again, I want to help others find good stuff online, outside of Google or corporate social media. I need some way of sharing what I like and have found valuable.

It’s really two blogrolls, not one

Then I realized that I really have two different sets of blogrolls.

One blogroll is more ephemeral: things I’m actively reading and enjoying right now. It’s the /now version of what I’m consuming. For example, I’m reading a bunch of folks right now who are participating in something called Junited2024, many of whom I followed last month during WeblogPoMo2024. That’s put my reading on hold for some of my normal go-to sites I do actually read all the time. I see this list as being frequently updated, and it’ll be shorter to better reflect how I’m actually spending my recent reading time.

The other blogroll is more semi-permanent: things that I have enjoyed and think you might find valuable too, but that I’m not actively gobbling up right now. Perhaps that’s because I’ve delved much deeper into the personal web recently and there simply isn’t enough time right now, or because I was interested in completing a specific project and now that I’m done with it, the posts aren’t as relevant to me anymore. But they include links I want to keep on the list.

These are more like /bookmarks (some subset of them could even be added to a topical /resources page). But they can also include links to the people I care about and don’t want to leave out, because I really do want to support them even if I’m not reading their latest sponsored trip. I imagine this list will keep growing and growing, as more links get added but only removed if the site disappears or changes dramatically.

A rebirth, not a death

So I’m not going to kill off my blogroll.

But I do think I’ll rebirth it, by splitting it into those two components. I’ll have to consider a bit more what this might look like: whether they become two entirely different pages, or are integrated into other existing pages, or are simply more obviously separated on my current blogroll page. Hmmm.

  1. Though I will add them to my own personal search engine to tap into later. ↩︎

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