12 June 2008

Social blogrolling -- what is a "friend"

There are three main social blogrolling sites that I know of: MyBlogLog, Blog Catalog and BumpZee. They are useful in that they not only let you compile a list of blogs you want to read again, but (if set up properly) let you see who has visited your blog, and you can then pay a return visit.

I joined MyBlogLog a little over a year ago, and found it useful for finding interesting blogs and keeping a list of ones I wanted to revisit.

I joined BumpZee, but found it clunky, slow, and less than useful. It doesn't show blog visitors unless the person is actually logged in to BumpZee, and they have to log in every time they open their browser otherwise they don't show up.

I joined Blog Catalog more recently, when we had a on human rights, and found that they were also promoting blogging on human rights on 15 May.

To add blogs to your blogroll, in MyBlogLog you join a "community" related to that blog, and in Blog Catalog you join a neighbourhood. You can also have a list of "contacts" or "friends", which is similar to social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace etc.

And this is where things start getting strange. I keep getting messages that people have added me as "friends" or "contacts" when it is evident that they have never even visited my blogs, much less commented on them. I don't know them, I've never corresponded with them, and don't see how they could be regarded as "friends".

Annoying things about social blogrolling sites

  • People who add you as a friend when you don't know them
  • People who add you as a friend when they've never visited your blog
  • People who have blogs, but don't have the widget on their blogs
My own policy, which may be a bit inconsistent in practice, but not much, is that on social blogrolling sites, if I like a blog and want to revisit it, I join its "community" or "neighbourhood". If people visit my blog, I try to visit theirs, and if I find it interesting, join the community or neighbourhood. If, on revisiting a blog, I find that it was only one post that was interesting, and the rest are not, then I'll leave the community or neighbourhood.

I only list as "friends" or "contacts" people I have actually met, or whom I have corresponded with, or who have regularly commented on my blog, and I have regularly commented on theirs. In other words, people I have had some interaction with over some time. Adding people as "friends" or "contacts" when you don't know them and they don't know you seems counterproductive, and to destroy the usefulness of social blogrolling sites, and social networking sites generally.

I suppose could also be regarded as a form of social blogrolling, in that you can list blogs you like as favourites, but it doesn't show who has visited your blog, and recently its navigation seems to have become much more difficult.

Like many web services, they start by doing one thing well, and then try to do more and more things, and end up not doing any of them well. That's what happened to Google. They started by having a very good search engine, and then they tried to do just about everything, and now they don't even do their search engine well. They too have a social networking site like Facebook and MySpace, called Orkut, very popular in India, not so much in South Africa. But their search engine simply hasn't kept up with the competition.


Anonymous said...

Adding contacts in social networking sites is part of the networking isnt it? When it comes to social blogrolls, I agree with you. The whole point is in sharing blogs, some people confuse it for social networking.

Adam Gonnerman said...

I find Technorati useful, but not the other options you mentioned. I have log-ins for them, but rarely visit. I prefer to visit the blogs of people on my blogroll and those of people who comment on my blog. That's pretty much the limit of my "networking," which I don't think is too bad.

Steve Hayes said...

ms cris,

Even in social networking, I would not add people as friends if I have not already had some interaction with them, either face to face or by letter (snail mail or e-mail).

If anyone looks at my profile on a social network, they can see where to contact me by e-mail or read my blogs. If they aren't interested in interacting with what I say, then I don't see why they would want to call me a "friend".

Steve Hayes said...


I've found the others useful for finding interesting blogs that I might never have found otherwise. I use Technorati for finding blog posts on particular topics, rather than blogs themselves. For example if I'm going to write about something, I enter a couple of keywords to see what others have said about it recently.


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