Friday, June 15, 2007

Weekend: Blogistan

A few weeks ago, we were having a rousing discussion about tagging and the politics of tagging. I got such a positive and thoughtful response from it that I was encouraged to know that it is okay to examine these things.

One thing happened though that has stuck in my mind since then ~ and has caused me to do some serious thinking.

I offended someone with my blogroll.

It was an offhanded comment on her part but I haven't forgotten it. She commented that blogrolling is "whimsical" and was dependent on who we like one day and do not like the next. That is not the case with me but her point is taken. It can and did appear that way.

You know who you are ~ and I apologize. Sincerely. I do. I was careless. I hope you see this, if you even come around anymore.

I'd like to explain a little bit exactly what my blogroll is about. First and foremost, it is a list of recommendations. Yes, there are people on there who I like personally. And they are good writers. They have something relevant to say. There are people on there who I do not particularly agree with. But they are good writers and have something relevant to say.

Heck, there is one guy on my blog roll who doesn't even like me! He never visits here any more and hasn't responded to any of my comments or notes in months! And this is someone who wanted to meet me at one time as a co-blogger with a common interest. He even sent me something in the mail one time. He's long since disappeared. But he's still on the sidebar ~ because he's a good writer and has something to say.

I take my ethics seriously and I care very much about how I tread on this earth. My footprints matter to me more than nearly anything else. "First, do no harm."

If I honestly believed I was harming anyone by having a list of blog recommendations, I would take it down in a hot second.

But I truly don't believe I am. And I have examined this fairly conscientiously over the past few weeks.

I am not recommending people to increase my Technorati rating (which it doesn't anyway) and I am not doing it to get "points" from those people by having them link me. (Some people on that roll do not link to me.) I am recommending them because I believe their voices are clear, resonant and have substance. Each one in his or her own way has taught me something, makes me laugh, talks about things that need to be discussed, writes beautifully of his or her own life experience and is a voice that needs to be heard.

It's not my way of saying "you're on my buddy list." I never got into chat rooms, MySpace or IM. This blog, Thailand Gal, is not a social networking site. I can't help you make more money or find a girlfriend/boyfriend. I am not a member of any cliques or in groups. I like lots of people all over the place. (And oddly, the one thing that will make me stop liking someone is cliquishness. I find it boorish and childish.) This blog is, I hope, a roundtable where intelligent adults get together to discuss topics of interest. If anything, it is more like a Yahoo mailing list. That is why I like to reply to comments.

I do have a few conditions which will keep me from putting someone on the blog roll. I will not put vulgar, racist, hostile, commercial or dead-content sites on it. Anyone who wants to be on it is welcome to be on it as long as those conditions are met.

And once you're on, you're on... unless you expressly tell me to remove it, use it for commercial promotion or the blog goes dead. I don't like the idea that I for even one moment caused someone else to feel badly because of my actions.

How do you all feel about this? Do you think blog rolls are political? Do you think they are doomed to appear that way, no matter how cautious we are?




flutter said...

I sometimes think commenting is more political than blogrolling. But truly it boils down to one solid point, it is your space to do with what you choose.
I love that you are so conscious of feelings and are such a serene soul.

slouching mom said...

To the extent that a blogroll by definition excludes some blogs, sure, it's exclusionary, but only (I think) in a fairly trivial sense.

But I got rid of mine, and I'll tell you what motivated me. I was asked by a few bloggers via comment to blogroll them. The text read something like, "I blogrolled you. Will you blogroll me?"

This tit-for-tat request paralyzed me. Because I have lots of trouble saying no. And so I blogrolled them.

And from then on every time I looked at my blogroll I was annoyed. I had meant it as my idiosyncratic "best writing" list, and now it wasn't anymore. I felt like it had been hijacked.

I know, it's my fault! I'm a wimp! But I didn't know how to handle it, and then the problem was compounded by the fact that once you put someone on a blogroll, taking that person off is a very hurtful thing to do.

So I scrapped the whole thing.

Blogrolls are thorny.

Anonymous said...

Blogrolling is great for those of use who don't have a blog, who are interested in visiting blogs, and who like to visit the blogs of people whose blog we already enjoy! (Did that make sense? I hope so, 'cuz I do mean it.) Being testy about someone's blogroll just sounds like "sour grapes" to me. I think your attitude about most things is great, Chani. Have you ever posted a picture of yourself? I can't recall, and I have you pictured in my brain. Wonder if I'm even close? Cece

Anonymous said...

Blogrolling is also nice for those of US who don't know how to spell. :-) Cece - -the radical typist/speller

meno said...

To thine own self be true.

I try to follow this philosophy on my blog roll. It represents an active (albeit lagging behind right now) list of blogs that i read and find interesting. I have removed people, mostly because they started doing the pay for post thing, which i find boring.

There are people on my list who don't read, or comment, on my blog.

No one has ever asked me to list them on my blog roll. i would probably be annoyed at that request. It smacks of "friending" like on myspace.

When i come across a blog that i think i might like, i read it for a while and if i still like it and am reading it, on it goes.

I will not be bullied.

hugs to you.

thailandchani said...

Flutter, I know that you are correct in one sense. At the same time, I feel ultimately responsible for what I do with this space.. and the footprints I leave. It's a delicate balance and one I struggle with quite a bit.


SM, It's interesting.. the being asked to blogroll someone. I had one of those last week... from a guy at Thailand Voice and I went ahead and did it. He's never been back since.. and I do feel a bit odd about it.. like.. why ask? At the same time, I figure he must have had his reasons. His blog is pleasant enough.. so I'm okay with it.

It is a touchy, gnarly thing.. and the ethics of it are rather murky. What are my obligations here, if any?

Mostly, I just go by my gut. If it ever got to be a hurtful thing, I would take mine down, too.


Cece, I think someone has a legitimate gripe if they are removed for no reason.. in their perception.. and I'm certainly willing to answer any questions about it.

It does sting. I know that. In fact, someone just removed me recently.. and I have no idea whether I offended the person, whether she just got bored, whether, whether, whether.. and that can be a little crazymaking, too. I don't want to be a part of that. You know, most of us bend over sideways to make sure we don't offend.

As for the picture, I did post one some time back.. but I'd be darned to remember when. :)


Meno, I would definitely remove someone who did the post for pay thing. I don't want the spam coming here.. and besides that, I just find it distasteful.

I won't be bullied, either... and will definitely decline anyone who doesn't fit the standards I listed in the post.

Ultimately, I will decide who goes on it.. but I want to make sure that I never do any harm, either.

In the final analysis, I think a blogroll is fairly harmless. If we're considerate with our blogrolls, the same as we are considerate with the community that surrounds us, we can't go too far wrong... right? :)




heartinsanfrancisco said...

All the blogs listed on my sidebar are ones I visit regularly because the writing, the humor, the photographs, the subject matter, something that is going on there interests me.

I only know one of these people personally, and I knew her before I had a blog.

Some list me on theirs while others do not.

It has never occurred to me that I am doing anything remotely political, nor do I aspire to belong to a clique.

Removing someone from my list would be making a stronger and potentially more hurtful statement than I care to make, so unless the author of one of my recommended blogs seriously offends me, I won't do it.

Why do some people have to turn everything into high drama?

thailandchani said...

Susan, the person I offended wasn't trying to cause drama.. at least not in my belief. I did something unexpected and unexplained. She was hurt by that. I am always okay with someone asking for an explanation with something I do. If it is drama, I'll recognize that and won't buy into it. In this case, it was a miscalculation, a mistake, on my part.

I just want to have some spoken standard for all of this so that it won't happen again.




crazymumma said...

I took off my blogroll ages ago. And just made it over in my favorites section in my computer.


There is the touch of the purist in me. It is like when I want to make work, artwork, I deliberately do not look at or go to galleries, so the work is not influenced.

I don't know it that explains it, but it took me out of a certain kind of predetermined path.

Its your blog. Do what you want. It is no ones business to judge.

Suzy said...

Uh-oh. Now I'm self conscious about my blogroll. I started it just 'cause in the dark distant days of my early blogging (when was that ... 6 months ago?) And since then I haven't done much to update it, just 'cause again. It's kind of like polishing the chrome in the bathroom; I might get to it someday.

I do feel uncomfortable with the "blogging as a popularity contest" thing. I like that there are regular commenters on my blog and that people like it, and there are a handful of blogs that I visit regularly (this being one of them.) There are dozens of other good blogs I'm sure, but I simply don't have the time in my life.

jen said...

what? and all this time i was coming here thinking you were going to find me a boyfriend. damn.

ok blogroll is for convenience. i read those folks daily and it's easier having it right there. however, i also read many others, and i have those saved in my favorites on my computer, if for no other reason than saving them to my favorites has proven to be easier than adding them to my blogroll, so that's how i am rolling lately. and then i come here and use your blogroll and other peoples blogrolls to get around.

for me, it's basically that simple. i am one lazy mo-fo, apparently!

but you know i wholly appreciate your consideration of the deeper meanings..because i don't always consider that and how what i put out into the world is perceived.

so officially 'hi, it's Jen. i'm lazy!'

Anvilcloud said...

I finally got tired of keeping a blogroll -- for now anyway. But it may come back someday depending on how the ind is blowing.

Laurie said...

I use several different computers and never know which one I'll be on, so I use my blogroll like a favorites list.

Anonymous said...

I think I have a better chance of finding a good blog by clicking a friend's sidebar than by doing a Google search.

patches said...

I've delayed adding a blogroll on my first blog for now. Most of my reasons are those mentioned here. Blogrolls don't have to be politicized but they can be. Of course, after having given the pretense of taking the high road on this one, I am occasionally curious who links to me, but mostly I'm looking for new blogs to explore. I do appreciate when others have blogrolls, as ThomasLB mentioned, it is easier than performing a google search.

Susanne said...

It might be a very American thing, this tip-toeing around to not offend anyone.

I know that when I started reading blogs and was desperate to find ones that I liked, I was very grateful when somebody had a blogroll up.

Mine actually is my "favorite blogs" from bloglines. Those are not all the blogs I read but most of them. It isn't static at all. Blogs get added or thrown out fairly regular. Most of those bloggers don't even know me. I'm only commenting on part of them. The thing that bothers me most about it is that it is so long and clutters up my sidebar.

And what ThomasLB said.

Christine said...

My blog list is a list of people i go to almost daily, but I don't mean it to be hurtful to anyone else at all, and i hope no one sees it that way.

Chani, you are such a good soul, thinking of others and their feelings in this way. Your lovingkindness is inspiring.

QT said...

I have thought about taking mine down purely because I use bloglines now. But I leave it up because when I am surfing around and find a cool blog, I like it when they have a blogroll, so I can find other interesting stuff.

Also, I visit many different sites that I rarely comment on, usually ones for gardening or the environment. A lot of those are not listed on my blogroll because I don't really feel a personal connection.

And I am with meno - I'll take someone off if it stops becoming interesting to me, period.

Unfortunately, I think this might make me an insensitive ass.

Tabba said...

Chani, I think - and it may be faulty thinking - that no matter what we do, not matter how thoughtful we are of our actions, our decorum, etc. someone, somewhere will always find offense. And it is then up to them to stay or go. If they can handle it or not.
I understand that first and foremost you care. And that is noble.
But I'm with Flutter.
This is your space.
And you shouldn't have to defend your caring nature.
For anyone that takes the time gets to know you and actually reads your words and listens, knows where you're coming from.

I may sound harsh. But that's where I'm at.

Hel said...

I also use my list of favourites to easily access the blogs I like visiting or think I might like visiting.

If I notice that I don't visit that much and the person never visits me either I use the space to explore someone new.

I tend to agree that some people are likely to take offense no matter what you do.

And I love exploring other bloggers favourites.

Julie Pippert said...

Okay, not having read other comments first b/c I want to stay on track LOL:

When someone links to me in a blogroll I am enormously complimented and inordinately pleased. I take it as you mean it: that the person appreciates how I write and what I have to say (even if they disagree).

When I link to someone, that's what I mean.

I admit I have some blogs bookmarked but not blogrolled.

(a) I prefer interaction and blogroll those with whom I feel some degree of connection beyond just appreciation.

(b) I tend to not blogroll big and famous bloggers (unless they happen to meet "a" above) because the blogroll is a promotion, and I don't believe they need it.

(c) I remove "dead" blogs or blogs that have gone too commercial for my taste.

I don't think blogrolls are political (at least not how I think of them) unless someone makes them so.

I equate them to a list of good books to read that I like. It doesn't mean I think other books aren't good too.

A question I have wondered about is "reciprolling." If one person links you, is there any obligation to link to them?

kaliroz said...

Hmmm. I'm so not in the whole blog thing.

My blog? Simply me. My inner workings. Who I am. What I am. All out there.

My blogroll? The bloggers I read almost every day. I may not comment there every day, but I read them. I just went through the heebie-jeebies on whether to remove a couple of blogs that were dead. There's still a few there that haven't moved in ages but I'm hopeful that they will. So they stay. For now.

I look at my blogroll the way I look at my library. They're things I want close to me, that I can access and read easily. I don't have any blogs in my bookmarks simply because I don't have time to go digging and reading all I'd like. So I link the ones that I read all the time. For myself. No one else.

Also, I'm not as well versed in blogland. I didn't realize how wide the blogiverse was.

thailandchani said...

CM, I don't feel like anyone is judging me really. What I struggle with most is my own sense of responsibility to the people who come here... people who participate here. I don't want to unwittingly do something harmful.


Suzy, I try to visit a few new blogs every day. That's not to say I always get to them. :) I know everyone has different limitations with their blogging time and interest.


Jen, I am always using other people's blogrolls. That is why I fundamentally like them. They're useful.. and I don't believe they have to be political at all. Someone mentioned a library in one of the comments. The blogroll is like a lending library. "Here. You might like this."

That is really how I want to have mine perceived.


Anvil, got you. I don't think I'll remove mine unless it becomes problematic for some reason.


Laurie, got you, too. I think we all do use them differently.. but the fact remains that everyone benefits from them.


Thomas, I absolutely agree. The random google search thing is way too much.


Patches, my main concern is that mine never becomes politicized. I want it to be seen as something I create for the people who come here.


Susanne, it's actually not an American thing at all. In general, I don't get that most Americans are too concerned about offending others. I think it's a bit more of a "me" thing. Maybe it's karmic or something but I can get a bit obsessive about my footprints.


Christine, I doubt anyone will see your blogroll that way. Hopefully, after this discussion, *no one* will ever see it that way. Sometimes these things just need to be acknowledged. Maybe that's why I went ahead and wrote this post, even if there was a possibility that I was sticking my feet in yet another sacred face (sorry.. thai reference... "poking a sacred cow") in the blogging world.


QT, I don't think it makes you an insensitive ass at all. We all do this differently. I don't seem to have the capacity for relaxing when it comes to dealing with others.. or the feelings of others. That's probably from too many unintended consequences for unintended slights I may have committed. Now it goes on the table for everyone to see. :)


Tabba, thanks for the confidence. :) I'd like to think that anyone who has come around for any amount of time would know that I never *intend* harm. However, I'm imperfect.. and the main thing is that I am approachable and teachable. The person who let me know that I'd offended her was 100% right to do so. I feel a degree of accountability to the people who come here and invest their time, their comments, their participation... so I'm totally okay with having been confronted about this.


(next template)

thailandchani said...

Hel, I like exploring other people's recommendations, too. And there is no doubt that I will delete certain types of blogs. There was one on mine for a while, a guy in Thailand who was really pretty funny a lot of the time. He went absolutely nuts with the commercial stuff and nearly every post was about how he wanted to make money from other people.. blah blah.


It was that simple.


Julie, my take is basically the same as yours. Of course I am honored when someone links me. It is a stamp of approval of sorts.

As for reciprolling, I honestly have no idea. I would imagine most people expect it. I haven't linked everyone who is linked to me.. and I'm certain others I have linked haven't necessarily linked in return. Technorati offers to show a list of who is linked.. but I have the two blogrolls and it's not worth it to me to sort through 772 links or somesuch. :)


Roz, aaaah... there are so many wonderful blogs out there! Truly creative, thoughtful, beautiful blogs. There's no way in the world to see them all. :)




Anonymous said...

Hi Chani,

Blogrolls are great for finding new blogs.

I don't use my blogroll, so it was just there as recommendations, but, as I mentioned earlier, I started to feel concerned about it causing hurt feelings if it was not in sync with the feeds I read (I know how I feel if I am or am not included, or even deleted after having been included, which is not the most mature aspect of my personality, but there it is anyway). So I did away with it.

For me, I just don't have time enough. It's a struggle to limit the time I spend, knowing that it's limiting my contact with others. It's just really hard, blogroll or not.

Snoskred said...

I have a really different view on this one to what you do, Chani. So different that I'm going to take some time and put my thoughts together in an organised way, and then blog it. ;)

Carla said...

I had meant to comment on this post the other day and then had a bit of computer trouble and lost the comment. My two bits was basically that my blogroll helps me to quickly find the blogs that I visit frequently. Not everyone on my blogroll has me on theirs. And that's just fine by me. Also, I don't agree with all the views expressed on the different blogs on my blogroll. But overall, they are people who like you said have something interesting to say, help me expand my own ideas and often we have interesting dialogue. Also, I enjoy seeing what other people are reading and have been introduced to some interesting blogs that way. Please don't take yours down.

Her Bad Mother said...

There was an extensive debate about this last year that led to a lot of people taking their rolls down and opting for the voluntary/opt-in rolls like Blogger Chicks that you see everywhere now. Mine is opt-in - just ask and I'll put you there. Eventually. I update only sporadically, and it's not on my main page. But I think that blogrolls are really such a fantastic way of finding new blogs and remembering old ones that I refuse to take it down.