Friday, December 19, 2008

I Think He's Pissed

D. Martyn Lloyd-Morgan, over at The Liberty Sphere:

The Liberty Sphere has been totally ignored by some who have received nothing but constant attention by me via the links to their blogs.
Yeah, it seems the "good old days" of blogging have passed. Carnivals, link whoring, all a thing of the past.

I have to say I've felt bad when some bloggers, who I've read, commented and made significant contributions to (on their gun board), for years haven't given me the time of day. Not a "hey how ya doing?", "kiss my ass", nothing.

Hell, there are some bloggers I've actually met who've never sent a link my way, let alone put me on their blogroll.

That's just the way of blogging these days. Like Unc says, the best way to be a successful blogger is:
1) travel back in time to 2001; and 2) be a chick.
Back in Louisville I believe he also added "post pictures of yourself", but hell, I can't pull off the first two anyway.

At any rate, I'll continue down my path, hoping my forty regular readers stick around. Oh, and in the interest of reciprocation, please welcome Berry Laker and Ballseye's Boomers to the Mighty Fine Blogroll.

* Actually, I still link whore whenever I can. I have no shame.


Paul Simer said...

I read blogs because I enjoy reading interesting stuff from people who I like.

I post in my blog because it lets me share stuff with my friends and lets future employers get a peak into my head.

Paul Simer said...

peak, peek, whatever.

Rustmeister said...

Yeah, same here. Except for the "future employers peek into my head" part. That's scary.

Bitter said...

Pardon the upcoming comment series, what I have to say is not short.

Since I'm not really blogging anymore, I'm a chick, and I started a successful blog in 2002 and kept it going for 6 years, despite lots of life changes, let me completely honest about why some blogs get attention and why some don't. This is not in anyway to be personal attacks. Though I will use some very personal examples, they are just so that I'm not avoiding the comments at hand in this post. It's not meant to be mean or bitchy, it's a perspective that only matters because reading and linking is very closely tied to personal opinion.

First, addressing a specific issue (but not your blog in particular), getting on someone's blogroll means squat these days.

Back through about 2004, it meant some traffic. Now that many regular readers and especially other bloggers use RSS, no one ever sees the blogroll. Even when people do visit a site, blogrolls are often ignored as part of the expected "noise" on a blog page. They generate practically zero traffic, even from huge blogs like Instapundit.

In addition to the no traffic benefit, they also make no difference for rankings now. Technorati stopped counting links like a blogroll that stays up for 6+ months a while ago. One reason they stopped doing that is because once the blog is set up, most bloggers completely forget about their blogrolls and rarely update them. There's no effective benefit by any objective measure for being on a blogroll.

The only benefit that comes from a blogroll link is the linked blogger feeling good about themselves. Although, I would argue that it is also an inappropriate subjective benefit because people blogroll folks for different reasons. Some add blogroll links that are exclusively reciprocal (quality be damned!), and others add their top referrers. Some only post their reading list, and other post the highlights from their blog reading list. Some only link they people they know, and others like to use it to highlight other interests. In other words because the motivation to link is so random through the blogosphere, you never really know why someone links you, so it doesn't necessarily mean an endorsement of your blog's quality or whether they read it.

Bitter said...

Second, it's time to address quality when talking about non-blogroll links.

This is much harder, and no one should take any critical thoughts personally because this is extremely subjective. Some people link to be nice. Some people don't link because they don't want to show too much favoritism. (Odd, but I've heard of it more often than you think.) Some people only link if a tip gets sent to their email box at the time they happen to be reading emails.

The keys to getting linked are often newsworthiness, timeliness, or a different perspective. If a blogger reports the same thing that all the other bloggers know, then there's nothing worth linking. If they add insightful commentary, have it up faster, or maybe add a unique local angle (local not necessarily being geographic), then they are much more likely to get linked. I believe many bloggers actually read far more blogs regularly than they ever link (blogroll or not), but they may never find a story of interest to link because it's all old news or simple links that, if useful, are at most worth a hat tip. Even if a blogger has all of those features – big news as it's breaking with incredible insight – they still probably won't get linked nearly as often as they want to simply because people are fickle.

These links are the kind that matter, and the ones that will lead to the biggest payoff in terms of readers and feedback/interaction. No other form of linking even begins to compare unless the benefit a blogger seeks is simply feeling good about any kind of link. In that case, the best solution is to find and link lots of blogs with reciprocal blogrolls.

Third, I don't think that the "things of the past" you mention are actually gone for good, especially carnivals. The difference is in quality. So many people jumped on the bandwagon that it became too much for most people. Only the best edited ones will float to the top and get regular links and submissions. One reason why editing matters more than ever again relates to changing technology like RSS feeds where people can track hundreds of blogs in a reasonable amount of time. At the time the first carnivals started, if RSS even existed (I don't think it did), then few people were using it and they were the best avenue for following the best of lots of blogs.

In the gun blogosphere, this is particularly challenging. It's a niche, which means people who are extremely interested in the subject read pretty much all of the major sites and a decent chunk of the smaller or specialized sites. Carnivals really don't bring in new readers or expose new blogs because we're generally all so connected. Based on other niche blogosphere groups, I actually think we're far more connected and networked.

Bitter said...

Warning: Constructive Criticism and Honesty Ahead. It is full of subjective personal observations, so feel free to think about what an evil bitch I am for saying such things. But, when it comes down to it, marketing (and that's what getting links in about) is all about appealing to people and their idiosyncrasies.

Specific to The Liberty Sphere's work, I have my personal reasons for never promoting it, and he didn't hit on a single one in his rant. First, the best summary of gun blog posts I ever saw was the daily posting by Gun Law News. I suspect that's what D. Martyn was trying imitate. However, GLN was very good about summing up a post accurately and with the most punch to grab attention in one sentence. That daily post was what he specialized in, and he was good at it. I actually wanted to earn links from him even though they didn't result in much traffic.

When I compare that to TLS, I would say about 40% of the links I got from TLS totally missed the big picture of my post. I only called out a couple of times when I thought he blatantly misrepresented the point of the linked post just to kind of make him aware of my concerns, but I recognized it was his blog and if he wanted to miss the larger point, then that was his business.

In fact, I spent a couple of weeks observing TLS's daily list, and I found that the posts he linked were often not the most interesting posts on that person's blog from that day. Sometimes, based on when and what he'd link from me, it appeared to be more of a "link what's at the top when I check" kind of list instead of the best of the blogosphere. Now, maybe what he found at or near the top was the most interesting to him. However, it wasn't to me. And if he's looking from links from me, then it's kind of a problem. He doesn't have to change a damn thing, but I shouldn't feel compelled to link him because he likes things I don't.

Bitter said...

Moving beyond my 100% personal opinions of that particular blog, I think another thing that smaller blogs have to look out for is being off target. When I just read his rant about why he believes he's not getting linked and I didn't find a single thing in there that identified my reasons for not linking him or regularly reading him for very long, that reinforced my belief that he doesn't provide commentary that I would find worthy of linking. When that happens, regardless of the blog and regardless of the topic, it going to turn people off, especially bloggers who might be reading and trying to get a feel for things before linking.

I think that some bloggers tend to get too defensive too quickly rather than looking at trends. If other blogs that supposedly slaughter "sacred cows" manage to get links, then obviously that's not the problem. If other bloggers and commenters who have similar views get links, that's not the problem. It may be that the blog just hasn't been put on people's radar, or, more likely, they aren't cooking with the previously mentioned recipes for likely success in getting linked. Of course, in my own book, once a blogger does start publicly bitching about these things, the bar gets set higher for those key ingredients to a link – it gets much, much harder.

It's very tough to gain a decent readership because now so many people have blogs. Competition is fierce, and quality will eventually rise to the top. Sometimes people do get a boost because they've just been doing it forever, but in nearly every competition, early adopters tend to excel. When a blogger tries something different – like a daily carnival or some other – they need to realize that past results do not indicate future success. Technology is changing, and it may make some things obsolete or force them in a new direction. And sometimes a blogger's measures are off base. If they are offering specialized coverage, then they shouldn't expect a huge broad audience. But they can try for a high quality audience.

Some of this may not apply depending on what you really want out of blogging. I don't think many bloggers really think about that. If they did spend a little more time focusing on that, observing others, and brainstorming on how they can stand out in a crowd, I think the blogosphere as a whole would improve substantially, and I think people would feel a lot better about blogging.

From personal experience, I can say that what I wanted changed over time. When I did stop and think about what I wanted out of it at that moment, I usually went back to it with a much better attitude and improved posts. If you're getting angry and it's not fun anymore, then you probably aren't producing content that people want to link. Life's too short to get upset over a blog.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Morgan said...

First, a word of thanks to Rusty for linking to my post. Yes, I was very cranky when I wrote it, but once I got some things off my chest, I was ok. You have been very good about calling attention to The Roundup.

Now to Bitter.

Constructive crticism of my blog is appreciated, and I admit there are areas where it could improve, particularly with the summaries on the Roundup, and perhaps some of the choices of posts, although as you said that is an entirely subjective matter.

But it goes beyond that. There are times when a blogger makes a comment about something that has not been addressed in another blog, and I will link to that rather than to 'their best post.' It could well be that their 'best post' on that day has already been covered elsewhere and that they have contributed something in a 'post of lesser significance' that nobody eles is addressing.

And sometimes I will link to a blogger's frivolity just to provide some levity to a serious endeavor. I think it makes the Roundup more interesting.

But as I said, I can take my medicine when I need to improve in some areas.

But now onto the more personal.

Bitter, you seem to have a double-standard regarding your links. Some of the things I have seen you link to over the past 2 years could hardly qualify as 'the best on the web.' Rather, they reflect a personal bias...which is only natural.

I simply believe you have never liked my blog period since much of it covers a much broader area than just gun rights and the daily Roundup.

It is human nature to let our favorites get by with tons of things we would never abide on the part of those we don't like.

I notice that double-standard with you. And I am not in any way saying you have to 'fair.' It was your blog and each of us are entitled to our favorites.

You certainly don't need my permission to dislike the way I express myself and my views. And if you simply don't like it, period, then no amount of improvement is going to change your reaction to the blog.

I am certainly not perfect, and I do apologize for the times you think I misread your posts. It was never intentional.


Bitter said...

Bitter, you seem to have a double-standard regarding your links. Some of the things I have seen you link to over the past 2 years could hardly qualify as 'the best on the web.' Rather, they reflect a personal bias...which is only natural.

How do I have a double standard in standard blogging links? I never claimed to be hosting a roundup of Second Amendment news in the blogosphere like you.

The closest I ever came to doing that was hosting one round of the original Carnival of Cordite, and that wasn't about the best. The policy on that carnival was submission based from the bloggers themselves. I followed the standards of the time and posted with a fun theme (Christmas since it was in mid-December).

I think you're confused about what I did not find appealing about your blog. I never once mentioned the things you blogged about outside of the scope of your roundup. I only discussed the only portion of your site I ever read. (The reason I never read the rest of it is directly related to missing the big picture in so much of the roundup.)

Based on what you're saying here about the types of links you want to highlight in your roundup, I suggest that you communicate that more clearly. It would help people who see your incoming links and say, "WTF did he link that for?" understand what you're trying to do. Again, that would come under the suggestion of better descriptions.

As for covering other issues, no I don't believe that's a good idea if you want to bring back a carnival-like blog event. There's a reason carnivals (with the exception of Carnival of the Vanities) stick to one issue. It's a proven model of success. Beyond that, I personally am not a huge fan of having other political issues drawn into the Second Amendment debate when they aren't relevant. It's fine to disagree, but I can tell you that if that's the biggest reason you think I didn't read or support your roundup, again, you're missing the bigger picture.

Again, this goes back to bloggers asking what they want to achieve. You assume that I am somehow a hypocrite in posting to more trivial matter, but that's exactly what I enjoyed about blogging after I redefined my goals. I'll assume you didn't read all 6+ years worth of archives to see the evolution.

The kinds of links that you want, I got out of the way in the first two months of blogging. (Volokh within three weeks of launching and Instapundit within a month or two.) When I wanted them, I used links and unique perspectives to get them. Some of the most fun links came from when I looked to mid-traffic sites that were more personality driven. It was more about connecting with them than getting traffic. It was fun, I'm not going to lie. But then I transitioned into talking more with readers, and that provided it's own joy.

Rather than ranting about how you're just so ignored, why not spend some time reflecting?

There were plenty of quality posts that I published that never got any link love. I would sometimes get frustrated, but I didn't feel the need to publicly attack everyone who didn't link to me. Instead I focused on what I could do differently next time. Should I pitch it? Should I add pictures? Should I take a different tone? Should I offer to guest blog it somewhere?

If you're not willing to do that and ask those questions, then every time you rant about not getting enough attention and the (misplaced) reasons you think people are ignoring you, you'll lose more people.