Sunday, March 11, 2007

I can't believe it's not a meritocracy!

Also at My Left Wing

I while ago I suggested, half-jokingly, that I was thinking of giving up the Great Orange Megablog for Lent. That turns out to be easier said than done. And it really wouldn't serve any purpose, that I can think of. At this stage, staying away from that blog completely is only a huge inconvenience to myself--I can't imagine how long it would take to cobble together a collection of sites that would give me the same breadth of information. So instead I just don't link there. If I find a story that I just have to post about, I will find another source to which I can link. If the contributor has crossposted the diary on their own blog, I'll link there. Or I'll do a search and find another article on that same topic.

So, avoiding that blog, for me, at least, isn't easy to do. Atrios, on the other hand---pffft! That one has never been on my list of daily visits. No real sacrifice not to go there, but there's no avoiding hearing that name. This profile gives you some idea of the blog's reach.

He's the guy who got the ball rolling by declaring "Blogroll Amnesty Day" early in February. Other big sites followed suit. I doubt that anyone needed an excuse. But when one of the Big Boys of Blogging declared that February 3 was the day that one was free to dump links off their blogrolls without feeling even a twinge of guilt...well, why the hell not? Especially if you're already kind of a jerk. So that was one of the rare times Atrios occupied any significant portion of my brainspace.

Until just a couple days ago, when I saw comments about his recent entry, "Why your blog sucks". Damn, he's got a lot of nerve. He cuts all these links from his blogroll, damaging the traffic levels and rankings of those "lesser blogs", and now he's got the nerve to start opining about how these other bloggers can "pull themselves up by their bootstraps". I refuse to link to Mr. Blogging Elite, but if you want to read what he had to say, I've made the url of that post the alt text for this image.

The thing is, just like in the "real world", it is easier to make money when you already have money, Atrios and other big blogs get people linking to them *automatically*, simply because everyone else links to them. Recently I was looking at the DNC blog, and some of the candidate blogs (the ones that actually have blogrolls), and his site was linked on all of them. Does he have to suck up and ingratiate himself for that honor? Somehow I doubt it. People who work for these campaigns most likely link to Atrios and Kos and a few others *because* "everybody reads them".

So forgive me if I think it's a bit disengenuous for someone who makes his living at blogging, and is in a position where people link to him, without him asking, and without expecting a link in return. Certainly he deserves credit for his success. But it's absurd to suggest that other bloggers *could* make it, if only they tried hard enough. That attitude among the "haves" towards those who are struggling is not something I find charming in the economic world. I certainly don't find it any more appealing when I see bloggers copping that attitude.


field negro said...

Thanks for this post Renee. I saw a great side bar recently on one of my favorite blogs: "The Strange Death Of Liberal America (linked here) that spoke to this very issue.

I have delisted those sites, and I hope that every up and coming blogger in America does the same thing.

BTW, I am still trying to figure out how to get your tag on my site.

Please shoot me an e-mail and let me know where to get your tag. (

I swear Renee, you are getting just like these other big headed elitist blogs we are talking about ;)

Renee in Ohio said...

Or I could just be confused, as is often the case. My tag? Will have to send you that e-mail after I have some dinner.

Max said...

"He cuts all these links from his blogroll, damaging the traffic levels and rankings of those 'lesser blogs'..."

This sounds to me exactly like people who complain when their business or website goes down in Google's rankings, and they demand that Google put them back where they used to be. Google owes them precisely NOTHING. Google is providing an information service which is organized according to Google's criteria and no one else's.

Likewise, Atrios owes people that he formerly blogrolled precisely NOTHING. Their being listed on his or anyone's blogroll is a courtesy which can be revoked at any time, with absolutely no notice or obligation.

The freedom of blogging is the freedom to say whatever the hell you want. It is the ultimate freedom of the press. You or I don't have a right to dictate what someone else posts on their blog -- including who they put on their links list.

Watching people piss and moan about this makes me think of the worst, most oppressive (and destructive) pseudo-communitarian aspects of the left. This is the kind of attitude that leads people to believe that the freely extended generosity of others is a right to which they are permanently entitled. And it's the kind of attitude that demands equality of outcome, not just equality of opportunity.

Atrios didn't say that the blogosphere is a perfect meritocracy. He got where he is due to a combination of timing, luck, and talent. But he is not obligated to help anyone else achieve what he did.

Moreoever, he does not have the power to do so, even if he does blogroll someone. He is not a magician, or an all-powerful god. He cannot reproduce the circumstances which led to his own prominence for other people. Atrios is not "The Man", and he is not keeping you (or anyone else) down.

Being on someone else's blogroll is not a right. Why is that not obvious to people? I used to be jealous and fixated on getting blogrolled too, but I got over it a long time ago. This is Blogging 101 stuff. Please, blogger.