A MOAT AROUND THE BLOGROLL

I want to talk about blogging for a moment. I know it's dangerously "meta" to blog blogging, but I am willing to take the risk that this post will somehow become the Singularity.

I don't really know who, if anyone, reads this site. Maybe a lot of people do, maybe 3 people do. Irrespective of that, I feel like I am a half-decent writer who occasionally has something interesting, useful, or novel to say. I don't have a lot going for me, but at sizeable intervals I say something amusing. We failed graduate students have to take our victories where we can get'em.

I have, on numerous occasions, attempted to get more people to read this thing. The way blogs increase traffic is almost entirely via links from other widely-read blogs. So getting those widely-read blogs to pay any attention is not unlike the remora trying to get an appreciative gesture out of the shark. I usually don't take their snobbish disregard of me too seriously, but after a very recent (and very bad) experience with a "big name" liberal blog, I feel the need to say something (which, as the moral of this story implies, no one will read).

Ever notice how the "BlogRoll" on all the big liberal/progressive/critical blogs seems to be exactly the same? DailyKos links AmericaBlog, AmericaBlog links DailyKos, Crooks and Liars links both referencing each other (inbetween its 5-per-week FireDogLake and MyDD links) and it generally resembles a big orgy of winking. Now, I have nothing against those blogs. I read them all (and the other "usual suspects" on the lib blogroll) regularly. They are indispensible. But to read them would give you the impression that there are all of about 15 blogs on the internets that have anything interesting to say.

Undeterred, I recently sent an email to a big name blog, an admitted piece of shameless self-promotion about a recent entry here that I felt was potentially interesting. While I expect (and receive) no response from those sorts of things, this time I was told that if I wanted a hat tip, I should buy an ad (starting at $500).

OK. So let me get this straight. There's a list of Old Boys' Club blogs that get free traffic-generating links every day, and the rest of us commoners have to pay out the nose for the privilege of getting noticed. Wow. How "progressive."

Several responses are probably coming to mind at this point. I will refute them in order.

  • 1. "Blame the product. If you had anything interesting to say, people would read this site." – This is so patently ridiculous that I think it disproves itself. There is obviously much more to being widely read than quality. Much of what is popular is total shit, and much of what is brilliant is obscure. The idea that the Marketplace of Popularity is an arbiter of quality is 12 steps beyond asinine.
  • 2. "Big sites like Crooks and Liars can't give attention to every jackass with an internet connection." – True but irrelevant. I'm not claiming that some sort of Fairness Doctrine applies, but only that there is a biased mindset that leads a lot of bloggers to believe that only a small, elite circle of blogs are worth reading or mentioning. I doubt that Atrios and Digby are really 30,000 times better writers than I or any other Non-Entity blogger are, but, thanks to the thrice-daily links on C&L and AmericaBlog they get 30,000 times the traffic.
  • 3. "Nice persecution complex. Stop crying about the big kids refusing to pay attention to you." – This isn't about me or this blog, it's about a Progressive Blogosphere that is already succumbing to the same tendencies that have made the mass media so useless. The mindset of It Isn't Important Unless or Until Atrios Says It (or, even more perniciously, Once Atrios Says It, It Becomes Important) is my complaint. It's not a very far cry from the Idiot Mantra of "If it's important, it would be on the news." That mantra is the entire reason that blogs have become an important news source – they jump on the fumbles and scoop up the loose change that never makes it onto CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc. Perhaps no theme is more rampant in progressive blogging than "We're talking about this because the MSM won't." Unfortunately, we're quickly sliding back into the bad habits of that same media – a small handful of sources of information dominate and, intentionally or not, exclude.
  • 4. "You're just bitter." – And you're ugly. Tomorrow I shall still be bitter, and you'll still be ugly.

    I'd like to stress one last time that all of the blogs I have mentioned here by name are favorite reads of mine. I have nothing against them and (where applicable) their success and broad base of regular readers. I don't really think I'm interesting enough to be that successful (or successful at all) but I draw a mental line at being told I should fork over $500 for what people in the Old Boys' Club receive gratis every day.

    (And, to bring the "meta" full-circle, suggest Ginandtacos to your favorite big-name blog. Sit back and watch how they ignore your suggestion to read the post about how they ignore your suggestions. Then we really will be at the singularity.)

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  • 12 Responses to “A MOAT AROUND THE BLOGROLL”

    1. Cathy Says:

      My husband and I have had this conversation a million times. There are some incredibly good obscure bloggers that should be the alpha dogs instead of the neurotic poop obsessed mother and the denies he's a republican link father.

    2. John Says:

      don't worry ed you're still the light of my life. But why oh why did you make so much fun of the Charleston SC plug a few months ago? Haughty yet humbled.

    3. Joe Says:

      You are a great blogger and like the only person I've ever read who has intimidated me into feeling inferior.

    4. Sam Says:

      Ed, I've been a devoted reader here for quite some time, and only lament that I can't read this site at work (for some reason, our Net Nanny thinks this is a pornography site).

      In fact, I would much rather read this site than DailyKos – and do!

      Not that it matters, but I linked you on my site, which nobody reads.

    5. Chris Says:

      I was actually referred to this site by a fellow Y318 student, and I pass it on to other political nerds like myself when applicable. I enjoy it thoroughly and read it often, and the others I have shown also enjoy it.

      I'm pretty sure most of your students are aware of this site. You should ask one of your classes sometime; you'd be surprised. It would at least spread the word. As far as the big boys of blogs or other people I don't know paying attention to gin and tacos, I couldn't tell you.

      It may not be a bad idea to put out an ad somewhere sometime, whether it is free or whatever the medium is. I'm pretty sure more people would read it if they were aware of it.

    6. Christina Says:

      Not that it's done you much good, but you've been in my blogroll forever. And dang, I need to update that thing! TINO is still there (twice!?) and they aren't even writing anymore.

    7. peggy Says:

      WOW. What a bunch of jerks. This is why I continue to only read your blog and youaredumb.org Uh, that, and laziness, and hating their layouts.

      But mostly that I find you awfully entertaining.

    8. portia Says:

      Yes, that response was a delightful bit of asshattery, but do you have any suggestions as to how to integrate the Long Tail into the progressive blogosphere? Maybe the Big Dogs should get into the habit of once-weekly "obscure blogger round-up" posts?

      (And thank you for the reminder that my personal bloglines feed list isn't as helpful to the rest of the world as a links bar! I must fix this.)

    9. try and comment Says:

      comment a go go

    10. try and comment wiht a link Says:

      comment a go go

    11. Squib Says:

      Here is a little story from another small time blogger and all around degenerate. I stumbled upon your blog one evening while searching for a decent taco/bar insome god-forsaken small town on the road frequently traveled.

      Well, now whaddya know, no booze, debauchery or fine dining establishment that might feature a decent ass taco similar to the wealth of such a tasty morsel commonly found near my home in Arizona, but a fine blog that made very nice points, the majority of which I agree with…a bit of an inspiration.

      Occassionally, I pay you a visit because I have you linked on my blogroll. Yep, I have some of the bigger fancy-schmancy blogs linked up there too, some of those guys I know: like Ron at Liberal Values, or Karen over at Democracy Cell Project, having gotten to know them during the 04 campaign, others are just there for my convenience, and perhaps some of my friends, like Kevin at Ramblings will pay you a visit. (Kevin is doing wonderful work for Amnesty).

      My lowly blog generates a small bit of traffic, averaging now about 18 visitors a day (yippee), but right before the election last year, I was getting loads of traffic becasue I guess I have a second-tier political junkies blog. It also helps that I am listed at Lefty Blogs, but to do that I had to start talking about local politics more than I really wanted.

      Regardless of who or how many read your blog, please know that those of us who do, really do enjoy it, even if we only drop by on occassion.

      Cheers

    12. Sharonda Bocanegra Says:

      Good blog. Can't wait to start my own blog.