Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Last Comment About Blogrolls (Who is, and Who is Not, On Them)

I made a comment about 10th grade attitudes and "exclusive" blogrolls in response to a recent post on C. Dale Young's blog. I thought my comment might prompt further discussion. It did not. No matter; I still have a couple more things to say about the subject.

Given that I am considered an infinitely minor poet, I don't expect to be allowed to hang out with the football team.*

However, if one spends a few semesters quietly setting up projectors and lugging around extension cords, one should at least be permitted to pose for the yearbook with the Audio Visual Helpers Club.

It isn't a matter of claiming someone is your "friend." Or (as a poet) worrying that someone not "cool enough" may claim--in a moment of exuberence or wishful-thinking-- that you are their "friend." Please. In my view, it's about building a sense of community, giving people who are (in my experience) working against great odds for little reward to make something lasting and beautiful, a sense that someone out there understands and appreciates the effort, however "successful" (by the poetry world's standards), one is or is not.

Life is just to short, and the real world too cruel, to act otherwise.


*Or the cheerleaders, for that matter.


Blogger Leslie said...

I totally agree about some of this and totally disagree about some of it.

The disagree is the part where you describe yourself as in any way minor (or even as being considered minor). I have probably read more contemporary poetry than anyone you've ever met, as well as the canon and a lot outside the canon. So, you know, shut about about minor. ;)

As for blogrolls, mine is simple: I put people on my blogroll whose blogs I read. Every day. Other than a couple of friends whose blogs have gone dark and I'm too lazy and too optimistic to take the link down, those on my blogroll feel like my community. And they are on my roll because they are easy to get to from there.

I live in a tiny town, in a remote location and without a single poet-friend within hundreds of miles. The internet and the people who share their thoughts, their poems, their lives via their blogs are a life-line for me. They are my community in a very real sense. And so my blogroll is just my way of staying connected with them.

But I am occasionally mystified about who gets links and who doesn't. Is there a rule of thumb? Do the people whose rolls stretch into the hundreds actually read all those blogs? Or are they just acknowledging those they consider 'members of the club'? dunno.

But lets face it—I don't know about you, but I've spent my life as an outsider. And I've grown accustomed, even fond.

9:30 PM  
Blogger C. Dale said...

I cannot speak to or for anyone else's blogrolls, but I can speak for my own. I have two lists, one that is referrer.org based, meaning anyone who links to me appears there. I also keep a list of blogs based solely on my own desire to check these daily. I keep track of many blogs, including your own, via Bloglines. But the one's in my blogroll are simply ones I check frequently, most times daily. It isn't meant to be exclusive. And I know for a fact that many people use the referer.org links to visit other people's blogs. Community is difficult on-line. It is easier than in real life because we can communicate and appreciate each other's words across great distances. But it is not real. Not the same way say I can sit down and chat with folks who live in San Francisco. I have never been a football player, though I have played basketball and swam competitively. I have, despite not liking to admit it, been a cheerleader...

9:31 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I like this. I used to worry about what some poet I'd never met would think if they found their name on my blogroll, but then I figured, you know what, if I add a link to the Chicago Cubs, I don't worry that I'm not a good enough ballplayer to be a fan. When I add someone to my blogroll, it's because I'm a fan, either of their work, their blog, or both. There's no science to it--it just accumulates gradually; I add 'em as I find 'em.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

I think sometimes people read too much into blogrolls. I can only speak for myself, but there's only two blogs I consciously don't include on mine -- and that's for personal reasons, not because of some kind of "hip" or "importance" ranking system.

I used to keep my blogroll updated when I used it myself, but since using an RSS feed I only update it when somebody requests to be added -- which means there's probably 100 or so blogs that I read regularly in my RSS feed, but I have never linked to. The list is long and unwieldy at this point. I can't keep up.

Like C. Dale, I use referrer.org too.

10:59 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...

Thank you for your comments. I don't know what "referrer.com" is and have only a vague notion of what an "RSS feed" is. I will have to pay more attention to technology.

My own philosophy is that anyone who shows the slightest interest in what's going on here can be on the blogroll and I regularly ask that if anyone is reading, not linked, and would like to be, to let me know.

I do like a listing-back, and if (after six months or so) it seems obvious that no listing will be forthcoming, I generally cut that person off my list--which does not mean I don't swing by their blogs to see what they are up to. Then there are some favorites of mine who seem genuinely and sweetly oblivious to the idea of a listing back. They stay on my blogroll no matter what; I just sort of figure responding to the voices on a daily basis is enough work for them.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Collin said...

I have a lot of links in my blogroll and I use Google Reader to keep up with them all now. When someone updates, I read it. I may not comment, but I always try to take a moment and see what they have to say. My rule of thumb is that if I like your work or respect what you have to say, then you go on the blogroll. Simple as that. And I have made numerous friends from the blog that I've gone on to meet in real life and keep up private correspondence and phone calls with as well. I can't tell you how many reading gigs my blog has generated.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

There's really no science to mine, either. I don't read everyone on my blogroll every day, though I suppose if my time and energy were unlimited, I would! I guess mine includes those blogs I read frequently, especially the ones I'd recommend to others for whatever reason -- whether it's a particularly well-written blog or the author is someone I personally like. It does feel like a "community" of sorts to me, even though I recognize that calling it that is problematic in some ways.

Word verification is "blogemmh" (!)which is, I think, the sound one makes if one spends too much time reading blogs late into the night. ;)

9:08 AM  
Blogger Jilly said...

I have a huge blogroll & I post it periodically as a blog post too.

My policy is that I link to sites I like, and to sites that link to my blog (though I am probably missing some).

I used to not link to blogs that consist of just poems, though they linked to PHB. Frankly I wasn't impressed with most of it. But I changed my mind. What the hell. It's just the Internet, geez-o-pete.

If the blog isn't updated for a while (month or two) it is removed. I'm not great at checking this.

I mostly use Google Reader to read blogs, but not every blog in my blogroll is in Google Reader.

And I would like to add that I am so "not with the cool kids" that I have no idea which bloggers are exclusive or have 10th grade attitudes or whatever.

Therefore, much of this post goes over my head, in a way.

The End.

11:15 AM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...

Thanks to you all fo ryour thoughts.

Not to give Anthony Edwards' (i.e., "Gilbert's") speech from "Revenge of the Nerds,"
but my sense is that anyone who keeps a poetry blog is a member of the Audio Visual Helpers Club--not the football team--or (Dale excepted), a cheerleader--and that we should be less snarky, less exclusive, and kinder to each other.

As to which bloggers (in my humble) exhibit these attitudes in the poetry blogosphere...I suspect they already know who they are and am certain they won't read this post anyway.

I can't be the only one who feels this way. If I am, that's okay, too.

11:49 AM  
Blogger dane said...

You're on my blogroll sir, because I enjoy your writing. And you encouraged me to join the blog world when you came to IUSB.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Psychoflowers said...

I finally figured out how to add them. yippee! Now I hope I don't cause any waves....yikes... because I have only personally met 2 on my list. lol Maybe I need to get out of the closet more! Ha!

11:21 PM  
Blogger Brian Campbell said...

There are hundreds of poet-bloggers out there. Ron Silliman, as far as I know, has the longest and most extensive blogroll. When my own blogroll got too long and unwieldy -- so long that it interfered with my access to other kinds of sites on my list -- I divided it into two lists, the "frequently read" list and the "other worthies" -- poet-bloggers who I've found interesting but just haven't grabbed me enough to sustain repeated visits. This latter list is down at the bottom of my lengthy blogroll. Sometimes I discover a blog that looks intriguing, and put it in my "A" list for a while, and then relegate it to my "B" list. Some names on my "A" list, though, I haven't visited for months... but I keep them there because they have been very good. Occasionally, very occasionally, I go to my B list and click at random. Sometimes I feel self-conscious about pidgeonholing people this way. But pidgeonholes have their organizational advantages, especially to birdbrains like me. ;)I'll have to check out Google Reader. RRS feeds -- I imagine a bunch of Roosters at a trough. Rooster Raising System -- is that what it means? Cluck! cluck!

1:01 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Since Google rose to prominence, links have become the currency of the web. Links in to your site bring in traffic and search engine prominence, and what sites you choose to link to determine where you direct that flow. Blogs play right in to this aspect of the web both with comments and blogroll lists. That's a big part of why some bloggers have been able to engineer a slice of online fame. But it's only part. Content is what really keeps people coming back. Surfers pass through well-linked sites with poor content like you-know-what through a goose.

So, like most people, rather than trying to play optimization games, I write what I think about, and link to those sites I visit most often. Reading some of the commenters on this thread reminds me there are also blogs I visit on occasion that aren't on my blogroll. I guess I've just tried to post those ones I resonate enough with often enough to want to keep up there -- for myself if no one else. I think the idea of resonance, like taste in poetry, is highly personal and subjective and difficult to pinpoint in scientific terms. Yet somehow, this highly mathematical system of links and ratings actually supports us finding sites and people and poems and poetics we resonate with. Wild.

1:25 PM  

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