Some people have taken blogroll amnesty day the wrong way—or perhaps it has been used in the wrong way. Jon Swift registers the impression that this was an undemocratic purge that simply re-enthroned the same old elites and tossed the little guys on the scrapheap.
But the more I learned about this Amnesty Day, the more I realized that it was a very strange amnesty indeed. The amnesty he granted turned out to be amnesty for himself [Atrios]. He wanted to assuage himself of the guilt he might feel at kicking blogs off his blogroll instead of granting amnesty to others to swarm across the border into his domain. “Everyone feels a wee bit guilty about removing blogs from their blogroll, so they’re hesitant to add new ones to an ever-expanding list,” he explained. So Atrios deleted his entire blogroll and disappointingly repopulated it for the most part with the usual suspects. Then others in the liberal blogosphere followed his example, including Jesus’ General and PZ Myers at Pharyngula, who already takes a very Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest approach to blogrolling. Then Markos at Daily Kos joined this ruthless bloodletting. “It sucks and it feels bad,” he said, daubing the tears from his eyes as he typed. So the end result of Atrios’ Amnesty Day was to make some blogrolls smaller and even more exclusive than they already were.
Uh-oh. This is precisely the antithesis of why I thought the amnesty was a good idea: we shouldn’t take the A-listers for granted and just put them on the list because everyone else does, but should instead critically evaluate all of them. I like Atrios’s site, for instance, and browse it regularly because he seems to be an excellent and responsive weathervane for issues that might be of interest to me…but it’s all those smaller sites that put a little more care into more substantive or quirkier posts that I appreciate more.
For instance, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo thought I’d dropped him in the revamp. No way, man—that’s a much more fun site to read on lefty political issues than what Atrios does. Besides, I’ve got the t-shirt. I think that means we’re in a committed relationship at this point. Oh, and Skippy, I’ve never been on Atrios’s or Kos’s blogrolls myself—we’re just going to have to settle for each other.
I should also explain that Jon Swift has the wrong impression of my blogroll policy. It isn’t quite as brutal as he supposes; I’m extremely liberal about adding new blogs to it, and although I do drop blogs that are abandoned by their owners for a month or more, I’m also quick to add brand new ones that I find, and do so on at least a weekly basis. That’s how my complete blogroll has grown to 405 blogs at last count (and which I could never handle without my NetNewsWire to manage everything).
I have and always will consider linking to be a way to break out of stale hierarchies, and I hope no one gets the idea that I would want to use them to lock out fresh ideas.