Sunday, September 30, 2007

[blogrolls] unreciprocated visits and culling

There are three bloggers I've just noticed, with alarm, in the last 100 visitors, whom I haven't visited in return. As this is the first day I've really looked at referrals, it worries me.

In my case, the total blogging time is apportioned this way:

# Doing the mail, which includes comments to my sites and responding to those;

# Dealing with Blogpower issues;

# Following up MyBlogLog visitors who have recently come in;

# Preparing and posting, which takes a fair amount of time;

# Doing maintenance and updating things;

# Spending the remaining available time visiting one of the rolls - for example, today was Purple; yesterday was Blogpower and White; tomorrow is Maroon.

Visiting other sites, of course, takes up an inordinate amount of time. I have a total of 208 bloggers on my rolls but a breakdown of the last 100 visits here in the past few hours reveals:

# 33 Blogger visits [but about 20 returning multiple times]

# 23 Unknown or miscellaneous

# 19 Google Searches

# 15 Google Images

# 6 Blogger Navbar visits

# 4 Technorati

On a weekday it might be different but still - there are vastly more on the rolls than are visiting. I think almost noone would begrudge time spent when there is some sort of return on it. So posting interesting posts on a variety of topics seems productive, in terms of non-blogger visits.

Visiting other sites is where the problem is. What does it give back? Well, with a small proportion, it is friendship and camaraderie; with a wider circle it is learning new things and seeing new angles. But does visiting beget visiting?

The major bloggers are a mixed bag. With DK, Mr. E and some others, it is certainly friendship. But with many of the others, it seems highly unproductive. They're not saying anything DK or Mr. E aren't and yet they don't even acknowledge our existence.

One [now major] blogger told me a year ago that there was hardly any point being on a particular superstar's roll because he might have three referrals from there in the week - it was a bit like Google ads. People generally go to the Big Boys to see what they have to say, not to get into dialogue with fellow visitors or to hit the sidebar blogrolls. Generally.

I often look down 50 to 60 comments and am amazed that there is virtually no communication between the commenters themselves, except someone attacking the blogger and another commentator defending him. Eyes are generally lifted upwards and the commenter is seeking the attention of the major blogger or else just making his erudite point and going.

Is that an unfair summation?

Yet a sidebar link is a sidebar link and it helps with the Technorati. Again - is that ranking so important in the scheme of things? If I culled my blogrolls to a maximum of 50, excluding Blogpower, [and I don't intend to], it would kill many links back to me and therefore my "authority" with Technorati but would it kill my overall readership [including through a Reader] or linking from other sites?

How much do you use other people's sidebars, in other words?

Would it have that great an effect in any day - maybe a 40 to 50 drop in visits - and could the time saved visiting be used more productively in wider general reading, better posts and more quality visits to blogfriends, thereby resulting in more traffic anyway?

I suppose the chip on my shoulder is that I hate wasting time. I hate wastage of any kind but wasting someone else's time is a major crime in my book. Is it a waste of time running a big blogroll or is that the engine room of a blogger's blog?


Ellee said...

James, I feel strongly about this. The whole essence of blogging is two-way communication, I'm sorry for you that your interest and comments thoughtfully posted on other sites are ignored.

They don't deserve your attention, but if you enjoy reading their sites, then all you can do is keep trying.

Fidothedog said...

True, alas I get not enough time to comment on a fraction of the interesting/annoying things that I see on blogs.

Sometimes a quick hat tip is all that can be done, when I do a post of my own.

Sadly having to work for a certain Mr Brown limits my time on the wonderful internet, well someone has to pay for all the Poles child benefits :-)

IanP said...

I too spend a long time each day reading others blogs.

However, like many I use Bloglines to aggregate the feeds, and tend to read the post there rather than actually visit the blog.

I will of course enter the site if there is insufficient of the post in the headline, or should I wish to make a comment.

The stats therefore, may not be a true representation of the numbers or location of those who read your blog, but only those who enter your site.


Benedict White said...

James,it is a toughy.

Personally I do not respond as fast as i could (understatement of the year!) to comments on my blog, in part because I am really busy at work and at home, and partly because I kind of got disheartened by some people without blogs trolling mine.

I don't visit as many blogs as I should, but then I am busy.

I get quite a large proportion of my visits from people either just typing in the URL or from google. I do try to go around and visit those who visit me, but then there is that time issue.

David B said...

Blogrolls are probably an utter waste of time in terms of traffic. But as a means of showing your support to another blogger, they're worth it.

Readers simply don't click on them. Iain Dale has the biggest list and the most traffic, but how many hits do you ever get? I might get one a week. I can't even remember the last time I clicked on his blogroll.

As for visiting blogs as a duty, I'd find it impossible. I'm just so busy reading the few I enjoy.

Lord Higham-Johnson said...

There, I think, it is, people and I thank you for these contributions which confirmed what I'd been thinking for some small time.

I'll leave my blogrolls as they are and try to get round to everyone and perhaps not worry too much in the future if people are visiting me or not.

Prodicus said...

I don't answer all my commenters and most people don't require or expect it. I certainly don't, when I comment on someone else's blog, as I often do. Like me, they may just want to get something off their chest and they're very welcome to do so at my place. In part, that's what the blogosphere is for. To be stimulated by a blogger into firming up your thoughts sufficiently to be able to articulate a comment is pleasant and satisfying without the need for a next step.

If someone asks a question in my comments, I'll answer it. If someone expressly invites dialogue, I'm game. If some marxoid dingbat is needled enough by my writing to be abusive, my work is done, so why gild the lily? As a matter of policy I never engage an unarmed opponent in a battle of wits.

As to the leading bloggers, they have the sort of massive readership which most bloggers dream of and cannot possibly acknowledge every individual comment. Imagine Guido or Mike Smithson - never mind the Daily Kos - answering everyone... argh.

If every blogger answered every commenter there would very soon be no time for writing blog posts and the blogosphere would clog up and die.

The blogosphere is growing into a mass communications channel with some big players and already there are juggernauts. It's still nice and friendly, mostly, and there will always be pockets of chumminess, like mutual support between writers of little newsletters. But the blogosphere is not a club. Soon, small fry like me are going to get lost in the crowd, and then to answer all one's commenters will be a reliable sign that one counts for very little.

We bloggers keep wagging our fingers at the MSM and saying how important we (collectively) are. The more true that becomes, the less we will be able to treat all comments as personal communications requiring the level of courtesy appropriate to the golden age of letter writing.

Lord Higham-Johnson said...

Prodicus - I've never met anyone as self-effacing as you are and I don't mind saying I can and try to learn from you how to take it all rationally and not worry about that next step.

But it is in my nature to take the fight up to someone or to be a brick wall and I can't change it. Horses for courses, of course. Thanks for dropping by - you know I always appreciate it.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I can see that sometimes you might think "They don't reciprocate - the time would be spent better writing an interesting post" and it's quite a difficult balance. [I don't mean the mega-bloggers; I mean the blogs we visit every day.] But the communication I do have makes me feel I'm part of a family.

Prodicus said...

Oh - and I find blogrolls immensely useful. They're my road map to the parts of the blogosphere which interest me most. l feel guilty if I don't include in my own blogroll those bloggers I visit all the time and with whose writing I feel some sympathy. (I do not blogroll people I dislike. Biased to the core, me.) I feel I owe it to the bloggers concerned, and I feel obliged to provide a bit of mapwork for others. People may land on my blog entirely by accident. If they like what they read, I like to think I can point them to other like-minded bloggers.

Lord Nazh© said...

James: You trimming YOUR blogrolls would have NO affect on your technorati rank unless of course they saw you delete them and returned the favor :)

You already know how I stand on visits and lack thereof, especially from the BP 'family'