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The Role of the Roll

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I’ve been reading more and more bloggers assert that the blogroll is a bankrupt idea and should be deleted from blogs.

Back in November, Shel Israel noted in his Naked Coversations blog that blogrolls were once popular, but “That was then This is now.”

Back then, we were all struggling to discover new writers who appealed to each of us. It seems to me that now, we are each struggling to keep up with the overwhelming abundance of things we have discovered and enjoy, but don’t have the time to loyally follow.

Several comments to Shel’s post suggest blogrolls have become irrelevant. Steve Rubel, PR A-lister, has removed the blogroll from Micro Persuasion.

Those arguing against blogrolls, though, have been around the blogosphere for a while. For instance, one of the comments to the Naked Conversations blog notes that the author doesn’t pay attention to blogrolls “any more.” It’s the “any more” part that’s worth some thought. As I travel and speak, I find one of the most common recurring questions from audiences of communicators is, “How do I find blogs?” Of course, I point to Technorati and other blog search engines. But those who have not yet become regular readers of blogs are usually most intrigued by the blogroll. All they need to find is one blog that addresses a subject they’re interested in; the blogroll will direct them to more. In a recent talk I gave to a PRSA chapter, one communicator in the audience said, “Oh, I get it. It’s like saying, If you like this blog, you’ll like these.’”

Exactly. Perhaps those of us who have been blogging for a while find blogrolls irrelevant, but it’s a bit jaded to think they serve no purpose since research makes it clear that most people don’t yet read blogs…and that includes members of our own profession. I’d like to think this blog attracts new readers-including those new to the blogosphere-all the time. So I’ll keep pointing them to other PR bloggers. It’s premature to pronounce the blogroll’s demise.

Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.

The Role of the Roll
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