Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blogrolling: Will You Be My Friend?

Che Bap 1
Che bap (Vietnamese corn pudding with tapioca pearls and coconut milk.

One of my college friends and I often joke about when we first met. We were in the same orientation and felt the other person might make a good friend, but without a class together, there was little opportunity to strike up a friendship. That didn't happen until the next semester, when the casual conversations in class eventually developed into friendship. She later told me she wanted to be friends that first day, but she thought asking, "Will you be my friend?" would have sounded lame.

Similarly, you don't want to ask if someone will link to you on their blog. It's actually considered bad blog etiquette. I always feel like when I say these things, I need to back it up with another blogger so that you won't think I just make this stuff up. So yes, while I've always felt this way, I'll defer this rule of blog etiquette to Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. In her blog roll, Kalyn explains why she lists certain blogs such as whether they link to other blogs, if the blog is of interest to her, and if it's a blog that she tries to keep up with regularly. I think most bloggers share her philosophy.

Other than that, there's no rule about who or how many to list on your own blog roll.

My list changes from time to time as some blogs get abandoned or I stop reading their blogs or they stop reading mine or whatever other reason.

In the early days of blogging, etiquette required that you ask the blogger first if you can add them to your blog. That's no longer the case, so link away if you like something.

Some blogs have a separate page for the blog roll, some have it listed on the main page. That's a personal choice. I found lots of blogs by the links on the sidebar, and similarly a lot of people found my blog the same way. So I choose to keep my blog roll on my main page as a courtesy.

Blog rolls are certainly important in finding readers but they also reflect whether the blogger is interested in building connections. There are plenty of blogs where people just do their own thing. They post their recipes and reviews but don't have a blog roll or ever link to other blogs. They save their sidebars for links to their recipes and reviews. While I might know some of those bloggers personally, or they might even comment on my blog, I don't list them because they're not interested in being a part of the food blogging community.

Banh mi op la 1
Banh Mi Op La (Vietnamese French Bread with Sunnyside-Up Eggs.

I check in with lots of blogs and comment on blogs that aren't listed on my blog roll, but including a list of every blog is just too unwieldy. However, some bloggers do display extensive lists of lots and lots of blogs. Some bloggers kept the extensive list and moved the blog roll to another page. It's really up to you whether to have a blog roll on a separate page or on your main page and whether to link to everyone or just a few.

As for who gets on that list, again it's subjective. I've had requests for link exchanges ie. link to me and I'll link to you. I don't do that. Personally, my list contains blogs that I read regularly or that I have some affiliation -- blog friends (bloggers whom I've met or who regularly comment on my blog or who I know read me regularly), and blogs that I just enjoy and wish to share. I used to list everyone who linked to me, but then my list got longer and longer. Some of the bloggers who linked to me never or rarely commented on my blog. Then I figured, well, I shouldn't feel obligated to link to someone or to read their blog simply because they link to me. So now my list is more manageable, with blogs that I check in with on a regular or semi-regular basis.

If someone reads or comments regularly on my blog, and if they link to other blogs, then they eventually get listed. But I visit and comment on lots of blogs and don't expect them to link to me at all. I simply enjoyed reading the blog and had something to say.

All this discussion of blog rolls makes it sound like a high school popularity contest. Blah! List the blogs you like, don't feel obligated to link to someone just because they linked to you, and don't ask for someone to link to your blog or to engage in a link exchange. Also, don't ask for people to visit your blog either. I try to check out blogs of people who commented as a courtesy, but I don't always have time to do so, and I dislike being asked to do so. Join in the community, link to other blogs.

So who's on your blog roll and why? Do you think having a blog roll matters?
  1. How to Start a Food Blog
  2. On Blogging and Food Blogging
  3. Choosing a Blog Host
  4. Picking a Name: Be Clever, Original, and Memorable
  5. Posting: Frequency, Topics, and Accuracy
  6. Giving Credit: The Right Way to Link, Copyright, and "By," "Inspired," and "Adapted"
  7. Your Online Identity: Blogging Interactions and Comment Policies
  8. Photos: Photography Tips, Storage, and Watermarking
  9. Design: Layout, Navigation, and "Above the Fold"
  10. Blogrolling: Will You Be My Friend?
  11. Building Traffic: Participate in the Community and Respond to Your Stats
  12. Measuring Success: Cheerleader or Nerd?
  13. Public Relations: Handling the Freebies and the People
  14. Monetizing Your Hobby: To Ad or Not to Ad
  15. Bottomline: Have Fun, but Protect Your Work
Did you find this series useful? I'd appreciate credit if you use any of the information. Thanks!

1 year ago today, pesto pasta.


  1. The whole blogroll issue is such a sticky wicket! I don't update mine nearly often enough, simply because I am always afraid I'll mess something up on my blog. I'm hopeless with the tech stuff!

    I get asked to link to other blogs a lot, and I always feel guilty if I don't. However, sometimes I really don't want to because of bad writing, tacky content, etc. I'm so worried I'll hurt someone's feelings. It's a tough situation, for sure!

  2. I kinda think of linking is a blogger's publicity. At least that's how I perceive it. I am flattered when other blogger's link to me. I put blogs on my roll b/c I want to acknowledge these as blogs that I enjoy and read myself. I know my "favorites" constantly change. But to be honest I haven't updated it lately. I think I'll go do that right now. ;)

  3. I'm loving your series! It doesn't really apply to me, but still, it's interesting reading.

    I'm very random with my blogroll. It's what I read. It does not bother me if they don't read me, or don't link to me even if I know they read me.

    But I do leave some blogs off - usually the enormous blogs that I read that has readership in the thousands and the blogs I read that might identify me or where I live more precisely than what I write. And I don't have my personal friends' personal blogs on my blogroll.

    I watch myself appear on and disappear off people's blogrolls, and that's okay by me. If I like their writing, I'll keep reading their blog, even if once I was linked and now I am not. Only once was I ever a little hurt that I fell off a blog roll. I noticed that I fell off a blogger's roll at the same time that she posted about keeping her roll tidy, and that she was getting rid of some people's blogs whom she did not read anymore because they annoyed or bored her. I spent a little time mulling over which category I fell into. But then, I got over it. I'm here for the writing and the reading and the community, roughly in that order...

  4. I also get asked to do link exchanges all the time, and usually it's quite obvious that they blanket email a ton of bloggers. I only link to blogs if I immediately like them or if I find myself visiting again and again. And I may be in the minority here, but usually it's the quality of the writing rather than the photographs that suck me in.

  5. Great post! I link to people I actually read on a regular basis. I don't ask people to link to me... I figure if they choose to check out my blog and enjoy it, they can make that choice for themselves.

    I try really hard to check out the blogs of people who comment since I do appreciate each comment that is left for me. Which is how I often find new blogs that become regular reading for me.

  6. When I first started blogging, I did ask a couple of people if I can add them to my blog roll because I thought that's what you were supposed to do, but I never asked them to link to me in exchange. After I found out I didn't have to ask, I started out just linking to people I liked and read (not many at the time), and then started adding more people that commented on my blog regularly and whose blogs I began to enjoy(like the one and only WC!).

    Then, as my blog roll grew, I kinda had to slow things down and put them on a separate page because I thought it was getting too unwieldy for my main page.

    Now I rarely add anyone new unless, as you say, I regularly read them and check in on their blogs. That's pretty much how i start my mornings actually: I sit down, go to my blog roll, and click on each of my links to see if they've updated. I'll do that a few times a day even. I know, I could be much more efficient with feeds and being notified of updates automatically, but I'm terribly behind the times;)

  7. WC, if you don't mind me truncating you name :), the few listings on my blogroll are the ones I read regularly. I'm reading more and more food blogs as I discover them (often through your blogroll or the blogrolls of those on my blogroll), I will link to them if I find I'm returning to them often. I don't expect a link in return, but I'm definitely flattered to appear on someone else's blogroll, like yours!

  8. my general rule is to only link to blogs/sites I read regularly as well, though I do make an effort to visit foodblogs of everyone who's commented on mine.

    Occasionally I'll link to certain sites/blogs moreso because they're good resources/references as opposed to something I read regularly (like Citysearch, Yelp, etc.) -- and it saves me a few clicks to get to the LA/OC eating section.

  9. :-) Well, I'm no food blogger but I just love to torture myself by looking at your beautiful food and recipes... and drool... and plot that I will maybe come visit you and eat lots of yummy food at your house. (and WOW, do I sound like a stalker...) I have been enjoying your series... it's always good to know what kind of etiquette you expect... (I also blogrolled you because I thought I shouldn't be so selfish to keep you to myself. haha) And you know me.. I always like your comments. I just don't want to be that commenter who says... "Oh my god, how yummy that looks, drool..." but that's all I've got usually. I blogroll the people I want to share with other readers. I have some I read but haven't decided if I can or want to share. :-D

  10. Susan,
    "Sticky wicket." Love it! What do people do when you say no? It would make me uncomfortable too. When I get asked for link exchanges, I just say feel free to link to me, and completely ignore the request to link to them. I wouldn't want to link to a site with bad writing and tacky content either!

    I haven't updated mine in a while either. Then I got all paranoid when I was writing this post that people would glance over at my list and start making judgments. Haha.

    You are neither annoying or boring. That lady was just being mean. The whole blogroll thing is weird to me. Put what you like, who cares what other people think. I don't put personal blogs on my blogroll either. It'd garner more publicity than the blogger probably wants.

    Well, if you're in the minority, that's where I want to be. I focus on blogs for their writing as well. Some blogs I like never have any photos.

    I think that's how it should be. I hate feeling obligated.

    I think that's how most of us do it. We have to visit sites in order to leave comments. The feed readers are usually the passive readers. Visiting blogs that I read is a more active type of reading and participating.

    It can be pretty crazy when you start out. So many blogs, so little time. It takes all my energy these days just to try and keep up with my blog.

    I think people should just link to what they like and find useful. That's what I do. Well, and sometimes as a courtesy. See? Complicated!

    You know I love you and LN! And if that's stalkerish, I'll take it. If you ever make your way out here, you and LN are welcome any time. :)

  11. I'm new to blogging and I stumbled upon your site via "Burnt Lumpia" which I discovered via "No Special Effect" and via "Rasa Malaysia". The amount of great food blogs out there is so overwhelming and I'm just going through a small number of them slowly. I've found your series on "How to Start a Food Blog" very insightful and informative and I've picked up lots of tips that I wouldn't have known otherwise. I don't have a lot of other blogs on my blogroll, just the ones I've found interesting and that I read regularly. So far I've asked every single blog owner for their permission to put a link to their blogs on my blog (I didn't know that you don't have to do that) but I never ask them to put a link to my blog on theirs in return (that much I know because it does feel kinda weird to ask, much like what you wrote on the first paragraph of this post with regards to the question "Will You Be My Friend"). Although I've committed one sin of the blog etiquette, that is I've started most of my comments on other blogs with, "Your food/pictures look delicious/great.", but I can't help it since they do look good and salivating (including the pictures of food on your blog btw, so please don't hate me for saying this :-))

  12. Luv0Food,
    Oh no, you haven't committed any faux pas. A long comment or starting off a comment with a compliment is never bad. I was just saying that there is a blogger who literally only says those three words, again and again. I'm glad you're finding the series useful!

  13. This part of the series is very helpful for me. For the past year, I didn't want to list any blogs because the requests was ridiculous. If I don't read yours, why am I endorsing on the blog roll? LOL

    Your series on "How to Start a Food Blog" is very helpful. Thanks!

  14. Pepsi Monster,
    I'm glad you're enjoying the series and finding it useful! I think the issue of blogrolling is a hot topic because too many people associate it with popularity contests and virtual friendships and all that. Just list what you like with no expectation of reciprocation and I think we'd all be happier.


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