Sunday, February 03, 2008

Blogroll Amnesty Day

Today is the anniversary of a dark day in Blogtopia (© Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo).

One year ago, Atrios (also known as Duncan Hunter), proprietor of the feebly-written (except for his co-bloggers) blog, "Eschaton," decided to trim his blogroll for...well, his own reasons. He offered what in Newspeak was called "Bloroll Amnesty Day," which of course makes it sound as if he would throw open the doors of his blogroll and let anyone who asked be added.

Turned out, it was more all about him. He blew up his existing blogroll, then decided that he would blogroll anyone that interested him.

Nothing wrong with that, of course. It's his name on the site and if he feels that people might get the wrong impression by having an inordinately long blogroll, filled with smaller blogs (like mine, altho I was never on his roll), that's OK.

Of course, then, it becomes a little disingenuous for him to lay claim to some form of authority in Blogtopia(©), and has of course, come under fire from some of the more (truly) progressive bloggers who have noted that by stifling access to smaller blogs, a movement tends to risk losing a diversity of thought.

Studies have shown (and this was PRE-BADay) that "A" list bloggers tend to link to other "A" list bloggers nearly exclusively. This sets up an echo chamber of thought, one that resonates and creates a feedback loop that makes it hard to sort reality from a rumour that's shot around the world three times.

Worse, other blogs, like (I'm ashamed to say) Jesus' General, then PZ Myers and Pharyngula followed suit, until the Great Orange One himself, Kos, pulled his blogroll as well. This was, for many, the last straw. The unintentional (or perhaps intentional) consequence of BAD was to eliminate an awful lot of blogs from an awful lot of exposure.

If you look at the large blogs on the right wing (I won't mention names because there's no point in looking and getting ill), you'll see blogrolls that extend well into the hundreds. Indeed, one challenge in winning the Weblog Award last year was that one conservative contestant had his blog on Captain's Quarters AND Michelle Malkin's blog, and was not ashamed to ask for votes there.

A movement arose that truly gave Blogroll Amnesty to people who needed it: smaller blogs. Led by such heavyweights as Jon Swift, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo (you know, CNN's favorite blogger, at least according to Jon Stewart), Joe Gandelman, and Kevin Hayden,

I have been approached by some of these guerrila bloggers to add my voice to the protest. Unfortunately, I owe some small sums of money to at least three of these heavyweights, and they have hinted that ThumbPer's name may have to be changed to "Per" if I don't comply.

So I'm making this announcement, altho to be honest, it's never really been necessary: if you've asked, and promise a return link, I've added you to my blogroll.

But as a special promotion, if you ask now, you'll get your own window with each!

You can't beat an offer like that, now can you?

I don't get many hits, maybe 150 or 200 a day if I'm on a roll, but I have a loyal readership, one that doesn't mind exploring a little. Too, links mean more to me than hits.

As a small (but I hope influential) blogger, I can understand the value of hits and links and I confess I do get a thrill down my back when I check out my Technorati listings and see I have one more link, particularly when it's unexpected. I hope by formally announcing this policy, I might encourage other bloggers whose voice gets lost in the shuffle to soldier on, not get discouraged, and know there are people out here who want to help.

So, in the spirit of Blogroll Amnesty Day, I am linking these five blogs who deserve more notice. Anyone of them could and should be A-listers. Some are smaller than even this little outpost at the far left of the radio dial, some are bigger. All deserve your attention:

Mr. Doggity. The Dogg always writes about politics from the perspective of a blue voter trapped in a red (but turning purple) state, Kansas. Always interesting and informative.

Connecting.The.Dots. Bob Stein is a former magazine editor/publisher (including Redbook), journalism teacher, and media critic. He reminds me every time I read him of my J-school 101 classes with William Burroughs at NYU: gets the facts, lead with the biggest fact and make the story interesting. If Izzy Stone was still alive, he'd blog with Bob.

Guys From Area 51. You know most of these fellows if you spend anytime at the snarkier blogs (including my own). A daily stop on my path to avoiding sanity...I mean, INsanity.

The Impolitic. Libby and Cap't. Fogg are co-bloggers with me at Michael J. Stickings The Reaction, but here, they post stuff that's even more in depth and more thoughtful than they do at TR. Give them a try.

Adgita Diaries. I was embarrassed to find out two things: 1) Mandt, who comment here fairly often and whom I run into regularly on other blogs, is actually two people (M and T, get it?) and 2) They have a blog of such aching beauty that, well, I almost quit blogging. OK, that last bit is not quite true, but...

A Poetic Justice. You know him, you love him. The Poetry Man's blog.