It's All About Linkages

So, Robert McClelland has started up a blogroll alliance called the Blogging New Democrats. Andrew of Bound by Gravity, himself a member of the Blogging Tories was kind enough to welcome Robert’s endeavour and wish him well.

Robert has made a name for himself in the Canadian blogosphere, by running a provocative blog, but also by the work he’s done building up communities. Robert is also the person behind the Cavalcade of Canucks and the MyBlahg news feed. The Blogging New Democrats will be an interesting endeavour because if it is half as successful as the Blogging Tories, it will build a strong community of left-leaning bloggers within the Canadian blogosphere.

I’ve said that there’s nothing magical about blogging, but in one area I am wrong: the blogosphere builds communities in ways only forums and newsgroups were able to do before. That is what raises blogs above the status of mere web pages. And the life-blood of the blogging community is the link. We blog, and we build links. We surf to other sites and we comment on what we see, either on the site in question or in our own blog. Other people come to the sites in question and add their two cents. The conversations that follow are often fascinating. People meet other people, share information, make friends. This is what the Internet is all about.

Reflecting the importance of links within the blogosphere is the presence of one tool and one particular website: the blogroll, and the Truth Laid Bear blogging ecosystem ranking.

A blogroll is a tool that helps you manage your links to other websites (which can get quite out of control, otherwise). The website offers this service for free (you pay for extra features), and Arvind Satyanarayan has a Blogrolling plugin that works with Movable Type.

The website Truth Laid Bear has, for years, been keeping a log of bloglinks. By calculating who’s linking to whom, he has been able to rank various blogs within an “ecosystem”. Your status is determined by how many people link to you.

According to my ranking, I’m averaging about 95 links from the blogosphere, good for a roughly 1750th place finish. I’m a long way to go before I catch up to Instapundit, who doesn’t need my link among the 4,700 he already has, but it’s not bad considering that the field is over 15,000 strong. And despite what I might say about my blog being a personal journal written primarily for me, the whole ranking issue is an incredible ego trip, and a number of us have paid attention to our ranking, feeling a surge of pride whenever we go up, and looking downcast when we go down.

Truth Laid Bear has proven to be a boon to blogging communities because of the advantage its ranking gives to blogrolling alliances. Blogrolling alliances — people with common interests getting together to share links through a blogroll — have the tendency to shoot up through the rankings. Consider the Blogging Tories, which now has over 100 members. All members put their names forward and are added to a blogroll that each member places prominently on their website. Truth Laid Bear can then go through count the links. If you are one member of this 100-strong blogroll alliance, your blog will show up on 100 different websites, giving you enough links to place within the top 2000 blogs, even before you write a single post worth linking to.

For the community in question, this advantage can confer considerable bragging rights, and the higher your ranking is, the more traffic gets routed to your blog through the popular Truth Laid Bear site. And because of such blogrolling alliances as the Blogging Tories and the Red Ensign Blogs, a number of right-wing blogs are starting to take the lead in the rankings within the Canadian blogosphere. This despite the fact that, if you go by traffic (you know, the part where people actually pay visits to blogs to, you know, read them?), there’s no clear advantage between left, right and centre. I place around 1750th in terms of the number of links I receive. I’m 736th by traffic.

Some might complain that ranking by link doesn’t give a clear picture of the importance of a particular blog, but complaining probably won’t change anything. I suspect it was this reason that Robert McClelland decided to form the Blogging New Democrats, to counter the advantage the Blogging Tories had enjoyed for a while.

Will we be seeing the emergence of Blogging Liberals? Soon, I think.

But for those of us who aren’t fervent enough in our convictions to be nailed down to a particular ideological community, what do we do? I am not Blogging Tory or Blogging New Democrat material. But that’s the good thing about the Internet: there is always room for another blog, and another blogging community. The answer, clearly, is to start my own.


Introducing the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians

Do you refuse to be tied down to a particular party or ideology? Would you rather talk about culture, religion, the latest books or anything other than politics? Are you sick of being left out because you’re not a card-carrying Tory or New Democrat? Then join the blogging community that takes in those that all the other communities leave out in the cold. Become a card-carrying non-partisan blogger.

Seriously, folks: the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians has few rules about who can join. You should be a Canadian. You should be non-partisan — meaning, not a card-carrying member of a political party, and not firmly identified with a political party. You can be reasonably certain of who you intend to vote for, but if you feel that you have an open mind and can be convinced by persuasive arguments to change your vote, this alliance is for you.

If you are already a member of the Blogging New Democrats or the Blogging Tories, you’re not exactly non-partisan. Mind you, if you’re a member of both the Blogging New Democrats and the Blogging Tories, you’re as non-partisan as they get. Either way, it’s doubtful how dilligently I’m going to police these requirements, so why not join up? Just copy the following code and paste it prominently on your blog page somewhere (a separate links page is okay, as long as we can get to it from the front page) and e-mail me your name and web address.

<script language="javascript" type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

I’ll then add you website to the blogroll, and add you to what could be the biggest community within the Canadian blogosphere: the blogs of everybody else.

blog comments powered by Disqus