Lauren links to this argument about the “purging” of blogrolls by A-List bloggers. While I agree that there are plenty of good bloggers who get less traffic than (I think) they deserve and who I wish got more links, I’m not really sure about these kinds of arguments in general.
First, I think it’s worth noting how small the stakes are here. As it happens, we were “purged” from the mighty Eschaton blogroll during the “amnesty.” As far as I can tell–and I’m not obsessive about sitemeter numbers, but I do try to check and see if any posts are generating traffic periodically–the effect on traffic is very small. Atrios links certainly have a major impact (not just immediately but in adding new readers), but he’s linked to us several times after removing us from his blogroll, so I don’t see that it’s made much difference. Not being on someone’s blogroll won’t stop someone from linking to a post they find interesting. (FWIW, Atrios has also kept or added a significant number of blogs that get comparable or less traffic than us; I don’t see any reason to believe that there’s some systematic effort to exclude smaller blogs.) In addition, the only blogrolls we’ve gotten significant traffic from are Yglesias’ and Wolcott’s, which generate disproportionate traffic because they’re selective. The goal of more comprehensive blogrolls just means that they won’t generate more than negligible traffic, and if for some reason you care about it they can’t really confer status either.
None of this is to be against comprehensive blogrolls, per se; I’m glad that people like Shakes compile them so I can check out something I might not otherwise read. I guess what I’m arguing for is idiosyncrasy. Link to blogs and posts you like; maintain the blogroll you think is appropriate. I link much more to longer, wonkier posts and much less to activist blogs because that’s what I read and blog about. I share Chris’ disappointment that blogs with more detailed content are less popular. But I’m not crazy about the idea that blogrolls (or systematic linkage) should reflect highly self-conscious patterns of what people think they should be doing. It’s true that I’ve seen more conservative blogs try to do more of this; in my judgment, most of these blogs are also terrible. Blogroll what you read or what you’d particularly like to bring attention to — I think it’s that simple. And the composition of blogrolls isn’t any kind of matter of justice.