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On the Evolution of "Blogroll Amnesty Day"

chicago dyke's picture

Blue Gal:

Tuesday, February 3 is Blogroll Amnesty Day. Old timers know that this holiday has a rather sullen history, but now it is a happy occasion: On February 3, bloggers are invited to post links to five blogs you like, that have smaller traffic than your own. It's a great celebration and a time to discover new blogs and link them and stuff. As I said last year, "not to get all mushy here, but do you know how fucking great it is to be here in the blogosphere? Take a moment. Take it in." Spread some linky love.

Small and newbie bloggers please be aware of the ironclad rule that you are not allowed to make "hey no blog is as small as mine" jokes regarding Blogroll Amnesty Day. The rule is, straight from the queen of the indy blogs herself (ahem), that you are not allowed to complain or mention your blog's low traffic until you have been posting daily for a year. If you're little, link other blogs that are new or still growing their audience, and encourage them to practice their craft daily. Then, show them how.

Ah, I do remember the great "amnesty" controversy quite well. Really didn't show the A-Listers in a very positive light, imho. John Swift sums it up nicely:

remember how difficult it was to get people to notice my blog when I first started out. "Build it and they will come," apparently only works with magic baseball fields. The only way to get anyone to notice my blog was to get them to link to me and that was not always easy. I linked to other bloggers and clicked on those links hoping they would notice my link in Sitemeter. I sent emails to other bloggers asking them to take a look at my latest piece or to add me to their blogrolls. I instituted my "Liberal Blogrolling Policy" offering to exchange links with anyone who linked to me. As more blogs began to link to me and add me to their blogrolls, a curious thing began to happen. More people came to my blog from those links and from Google. And many of those readers then visited the blogs that I linked to. Though it cost nothing to link to someone, I realized that on the Internet links are capital. Every link has value. And when two bloggers link to each other, they both profit.

The idea that links are the capital of the blogosphere seems so obvious that you would think an economist like Atrios of Eschaton would have realized it long ago. And as he is a progressive who has accumulated quite a bit of link wealth, you might also think he would be in favor of redistributing some of that wealth instead of just letting it trickle down. So when he announced last year that he was declaring February 3 Blogroll Amnesty Day, and other bloggers followed suit, I assumed he meant that he was opening his blogroll up to the masses. I sent him a polite email pointing out that his blog was on my blogroll and I would really appreciate it if he would add my blog to his. I never heard back from him.

When February 3 rolled around, many bloggers discovered to their horror that instead of adding new blogs to his blogroll he was throwing many off, including some bloggers who were his longtime friends. Blogroll Amnesty Day, it turned out, was a very Orwellian concept. Instead of granting amnesty to others he was granting amnesty to himself not to feel bad for hurting others feelings. Though Atrios has stubbornly refused to acknowledge that he made a mistake, some bloggers who initially joined him, backtracked. Markos of the Daily Kos instituted a second blogroll that consisted of random links from diarists. PZ Myers of Pharyngula now has real Blogroll Amnesty Days where he invites anyone who has blogrolled him to join his blogroll. And in the wake of the bloodletting quite a number of smaller blogs, like my friend skippy the bush kangaroo, changed their own blogroll policies and now link more freely to others.

Ironically, Blogroll Amnesty Day had a net positive effect for the blogosphere as a whole. I discovered a number of great blogs and made new friends and I am sure that is true for others as well. And so instead of remembering February 3 as a day that will live in infamy, let's turn this day into a celebration of the power of smaller blogs. Let's recognize that building an inclusive community of diverse voices is what the blogosphere should be about, not creating a new elite to replace the old mainstream media elite. This year there were a number of stories that the big blogs missed that were being covered by smaller blogs such as the Jena 6 and the situation in Burma. I hope someday that Atrios and other A-List bloggers will join us in recognizing that they could learn a lot from reading smaller blogs rather than getting all of their news from a few limited sources. And instead of attacking big blogs or each other, I hope smaller blogs will take this opportunity to expose themselves to other voices that often don't get heard.

I think it's very cute, the way in which blogosphere traditions develop. This is a story that we should all remember, especially at places like this, where we've been branded as "toxic" and generally become social pariahs to many A-List communities. Not that I give a shit. It's better to be right, than popular. FWIW, Corrente stayed on many people's blogrolls after the Great Culling. I chalk that up to the quality of our content, which no matter how much it may annoy, is still valuable.

No votes yet


herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

I didn't know. Is that still the case? Wouldn't amnesty mean, "amnesty"?

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

but yes, in some circles we're considered the very definition of blogging evil. like i said, i don't really give a shit. and as john points out, that first "amnesty" day was exactly the opposite.

Submitted by lambert on

... that RL really has me by the short and curlies, right now*, and so I'm very glad to see you back, CD -- even if I'm so behind on my mail I want to weep.

NOTE * In a good way.

Submitted by lambert on

... to be prematurely correct. And for people who have a problem with that, I welcome their hatred.

Then again, what would I know? I'm a racist!

NOTE And on the third hand, I went down to Eschacon last year, in March, when things were at their ugliest (to be polite about it), and was prepared for ostracism -- but got a lot of hugs, and a lot of people were pleased to see me. So there you are. So (I hope) we'll see the same thing this year.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

So it isn't all bad.

I was snarking a bit, but apparently some haven't gotten over the primaries. I just don't know the inner politics. I suppose don't care much either, or I would keep my mouth shut.

connecticut man1's picture
Submitted by connecticut man1 on

over at my Blog. For myself, linking is an ongoing effort because what is good for another left Blog (even when I disagree with some of their positions) is, generally, good for myself. I get more reads at the community Blogs than I do at my own, except on occasion when I hit the ball out of the park on a post. To myself, none of it is about traffic or getting read... It is all about building a better left Blogosphere on the on the back of the Google ranks.

Though, for the newest of Blogs, I can understand the frustration of trying to get noticed.

lizpolaris's picture
Submitted by lizpolaris on

Apparently, he decided that not only was his blog way too cool for certain ordinary mortals to be listed there, his blog was SO cool that he could redefine English!

Yes, Democrats too can play stump the masses by lying early and often! Hey, if Atrios says that 'amnesty' means throwing your friends off the lifeboat (not pardoning a crime), who are we non-cool dictionary enthusiasts to argue? We're not the great Atrios.

And because Atrios the cool had defined a new meme, the other cool bloggers (with dKos playing its usual role of following right behind) had to also - in order to reinforce the new word meaning and thus the rightness of their little club and its high place in the blogoverse.

As I recall, this was part of the early rites of KoolAid drinking and occurred just before the looming domination of Obotia.

So Corrente is toxic? Toxic to truthiness, maybe.

skippybkroo's picture
Submitted by skippybkroo on

thx chidyke for participating and the examination of the origins issue of b.a.d.

and of course corrente will always stay on my blogroll, as you guys have not only always supported skippy the blog and all my endeavors, but i have partied personally w/at least half of corrente's editors, and none can do better.