June 20, 2005

Flogging My Dead Hobby Horse

I've had a lot of hobbies in my life. Most of them don't last very long. I try something new, master it, and get bored. I can knit, crochet, needlepoint, embroider, decoupage, and puff paint. I've painted in oils, water color, acrylic, oil pastels and gouache. I've collected stamps, coins, and beanie babies. I've been through jigsaw puzzle and crossword puzzle phases. I've played Dungeons and Dragons, and I've beaten many a Nintendo game. I've successfully grown annuals and perennials, daffodils and daisies, and I can tell the difference between a tomato and a bean seedling.

Except for recreational reading, the longest duration hobby I've ever had is blogging. I have been publicizing my thoughts, sharing my frustrations, and posting stupid quizzes for over two years now, and that is a record for me.

A gentleman who authors Sobriquet Magazine posted an essay on Blogcritics in which he used The Alliance of Free Blogs as his primary example of the evils of what he called "link doping." I have a couple of issues with his post, and I left him a comment to that effect, but I think there is more to say about this.

First off, Harvey brilliantly marshals the reasons why link-whoring is good thing. If bloggers didn't want to expose their thoughts and ideas to the entire web, they would use a passworded journal. And if they want readers to find their little blog that is languishing in Bogsplot obscurity, they need advertising. Linking is the blogosphere's "word of mouth".

Sobriquet Magazine's charge that the Alliance is gaming the Ecosystem completely ignores the fact that the Bear has designed his tracking system to compile rankings on both linkage and traffic. He also doesn't seem to distinguish between what I consider "passive" and "active" links--from blogrolls and from posts. Readers are far more likely to visit a blog they have never seen before from a permalink in a post than from a random link in the middle of a lengthy blogroll.

The Alliance of Free Blogs arose from joke, and, like many other of Frank's projects, probably would have died a natural death as soon as he lost interest were it not for the fact that a select few of the original members decided to see how long we could beat a dead horse. Pretty long, I think, since the Alliance is coming up on its two year blogiversary in August. It also would have faded into obscurity were there not a need that we are filling: the need for attention.

Sobriquet Magazine made an interesting statement in response to my comment on his post. He said

I merely feel that the Alliance is the most visiable[sic] and, joke or no joke, possibly the most influential of these ventures.
He then likened his criticism of the Alliance to our targeting of the Puppy Blender. How cool is that? The Beatles are more popular than Jesus!

He also said

In any case, I am all for blog communities if they are built around the premise of alerting readers to worthy sites in a similar vein. I just worry that certain groups such as the Alliance encourage a particularly virilant [sic] strain of link whoring/link doping that threatens to add more roadblocks for bloggers who don't think that "[b]logging is a hobby of pure ego." For some folks, it is anything but a hobby.

I guess that means he's ok with Milblogs and the Blogdom of God, because homogeneity is apparently a good thing. Variety, individuality, and exposing readers to other points of view (especially "crappy" ones) "threatens" bloggers who don't think blogging is a hobby.

hob·by1 An activity or interest pursued outside one's regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure.

Ok, now I'm confused. There are people to whom blogging is their livelihood? Or engage in it primarily for pain? Who knew?

As a result of the “gratuitous linkage” and the huge role links play in ranking blogs on the highly influential Truth Laid Bear, many crappy websites clutter the upper echelons of the ecosystem and appear in search engines while many weblogs deserving that level of attention languish unread because no one can find them.

So maybe everyone should just stop linking to everyone else. We should all be afraid to read a blog we've never read before for fear it may be "crappy" and deny some other blogger their living or their much-desired suffering. We need to tighten our blogrolling belts and cull out all the links to blogs that might, sometime, somewhere, be considered "crap" by anyone.


You know why? Because the way to get attention--the way to get traffic--is to link to someone else's blog--even gratuitously. Because blogging, as Harv says, really is a "hobby of pure ego" and if you link to another blogger, they are going to come and see what you've said about them. And they might like what they've seen and come back again.

Or even blog about it.....

Posted by Susie at June 20, 2005 12:48 PM | TrackBack

Can't blogging be done for both a living and for the glorious pain?

Posted by: Jim at June 20, 2005 01:34 PM

and if you link to another blogger, they are going to come and see what you've said about them.

We're like Pavlov's dogs -- or something. Woof!

Posted by: Ith at June 20, 2005 01:41 PM

I thought the purpose of blogging was to give you another reason to wallow in self-doubt. To scream endlessly into the dark void without knowing if anyone is listening. To have your ego shattered by seeing the paltry numbers in your Site Meter, your constantly falling rank in the Ecosystem. Then of course there's the scarcity of comments and the complete lack of trackbacks.

Oh and thanks for making me "what" I don't think I could have taken being "and." ;)

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at June 20, 2005 01:47 PM

I take all blogging "hot to's" and rules as advice. You got my attention and I read your post and enjoyed it. Can't argue with those results now can you?

Posted by: Jaboobie at June 20, 2005 02:21 PM

Yip! I mean, woof!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 20, 2005 03:41 PM

Over here at RHOG, we're in it for the money, pure and simple.

Posted by: Patriot Xeno at June 20, 2005 04:09 PM

I always wanted to be referenced by a verb. Cheesegod knows I've been referenced by some choice adverbs often enough. :)
Being told how I should be blogging rather than letting me blog the way that makes me happy is comparable to telling me how to have an orgasm rather than letting me just have it myself. Yeah, blogging is THAT good. And that personal and subjective.
Mr. Greyson needs to seriously reconsider his career as a blog purity activist. It's a deadend.

Posted by: LeeAnn at June 20, 2005 05:09 PM

Gosh you folks are full of doodoo!

Edited by site owner for language. Offensive gist left intact for pointing and laughing.

Posted by: Chris at June 20, 2005 05:17 PM

Damn, Susie, I don't remember the last time I saw you this on fire!

...I'm all tingly now ;-)

Posted by: Harvey at June 20, 2005 05:52 PM

And every dog occasionally loves a good rub on the belly.

Posted by: Tig at June 20, 2005 07:02 PM

I almost forgot:

LeeAnn, I have thought long and hard about my dead end "career as a blog purity activist" and have decided, after much deliberation to follow my life-long dream of becoming a haberdasher. Thanks for the suggestion!

Posted by: Sobriquet Magazine at June 20, 2005 07:02 PM

And here I thought link whoring had something to do with golf groupies.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at June 20, 2005 07:32 PM


Thanks for making the correction. I appreciate that!

Take care.


Posted by: Sobriquet Magazine at June 21, 2005 12:54 AM

Came on over from Imao. Frank J got around to remembering the Alliance :) You are on fire Suzy girl... and I for 1 love it!

Posted by: Scott at June 21, 2005 01:03 AM

I have one of the crappiest blogs on the internet, I get the occasional hit from a link on a more popular blog, and usually it is for one of my gems that is stuffed in there amongst the "doodoo". Does that mean that those particular posts do not deserve to be read?
What this really sounds like to me is more of a sour grapes type of thing. Like Erik Grayson is bitter because something he feels is inferior to his product is in fact far more popular. I could be, and probably am wrong, but it seems mighty white of him to try to educate us lesser folks on what is and ain't ok when it comes to blogging. Thanky Massa!

Posted by: littlejoe at June 21, 2005 10:22 AM

"I have one of the crappiest blogs on the internet..."

Amateur. When you're actually AT the bottom, where I reside, let me know. Until then, you're a pretender to the Poopy Throne. All hail the Poopy Throne.

Great post, Susie. Thanks for the gratuitous linkage. It's been a while since my last Penumbralanche. :-)

Posted by: physics geek at June 21, 2005 11:00 AM

I would take the guy more seriously if he didn't have three different types of buttons to add his blog to another person's site.

Posted by: james wigderson at June 21, 2005 12:14 PM

I don't take anyone seriously. Oh and I freely admit to being a link-whore. In fact, its kinda fun, and you don't even needs shots! ;)

Posted by: Oddybobo at June 21, 2005 01:11 PM

EWWW! Oddy's got the link-clap! :-)

Posted by: Harvey at June 21, 2005 08:18 PM