I think that dividing a blogroll into categories is only appropriate if it’s informative and can’t be interpreted as a mild insult to blogs relegated ‘second-class’ status. Several of the blogs that I read have what I’d consider appropriate divisions that are informative in a largely neutral way.
Anchored Nomad divides her blogroll into ‘Chicago Blogs’, ‘Blogs all over the Place’, ‘Portuguese Photo Blogs and Blogs in English’ and ‘Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor Area Blogs’. These categories reveal her interests and say something about her. In a similar vein, Joe divides his reads into ‘Cool New Yorkers’ and ‘Cool Elsewhere’. Piece by Piece divides hers into ‘Saffas’, ie South Africans, and ‘Blogroll’, ie non South Africans.
They all use an element of geography in distinguishing blogs but there are other ways of categorising your blogroll without applying a degree of status to the different categories.
Rob divides his into ‘The St8s’ and ‘The Gays’. Mike takes a different approach: ‘we mingle’, ‘we’ve met’, and ‘we read’. Although Caroline and Andrea don't categorise their blogrolls, being art-related blogs, they could choose to distinguish 'art blogs' from the rest as an informative yet neutral way of linking.
The way you categorise your blogroll is a minor part of blogroll etiquette. A more obvious aspect concerns adding links to and deleting them from your blogroll..
At what stage do you or should you link to a regular read? And if someone has linked to you, should you feel obliged to link to them? Personally, I’m not too fussed if someone doesn’t link to me even if I’m linked to them. Obviously it’s appreciated, but I’m not going to need a visit to a therapist should there be no reciprocal linking. Now that I’ve dispensed with a trial period in ‘Places I’ve started to visit’ before shunting blogs into ‘first class’, there’s no need to retain the category. At the moment, however, I still have a few blogs that remain there but I’ll change that soon. If any of them is a regular read, they should simply be classified with the rest. If there are any I don’t read, I should simply de-link them.
That takes me on to the thornier subject of when/if you should de-link blogs. So far, I’ve never felt the need to as I read and enjoy all the blogs I’m linked to. But were I to be linked to a site I no longer enjoy or, even more importantly, actually dislike, it would make perfect sense to remove the link. Herein lies a potential minefield if you land up de-linking someone who appreciates the link. The blog-owner will be offended, especially if they’re unaware of the reason for de-linking.
Is there a polite way of going about this or is the very nature of the act an impolite one?
In real life, our connections with friends and acquaintances wax and wane in a natural ‘evolutionary’ way (barring the occasional dramatic falling out with a friend) so links between people are less obvious. In the cyber-world, especially in the realm of hypertext links, connections are much more obvious, as are the absence of links that once existed. The simplest way to circumvent the offence caused by de-linking is not to create the link in the fist place – some blogs dispense with blogrolls and achieve just that. Since most of us resort to blogrolling, that method isn’t applicable.
There are probably three ways of approaching this thorny issue:
- Not consider it a thorny issue at all and take the thick-skinned approach where you de-link and ignore any communication that may arise from it. You don’t actually know the person so why give a fuck?
- Where you know that the de-linking will be noticed and possibly regarded as an insult, let the blog-owner know your reason.
- Where you think that de-linking won’t be noticed, simply de-link. Should you be contacted about it, explain your reason.
Another area of blogging etiquette that I’ve not gone into is the whole subject of what you can and can't blog about. That aspect of etiquette is the one most blogged about as it’s the one that tends to cause most offence when breached. I’m not going to get into that now except to give you a comment made by Marie (someone whose blog is new to me - I must get to know it better!) on Clare's blog: "I chose to compromise my privacy by blogging, they didn't."
This long ramble arose from my realising that I want to get rid of ‘Places I’ve started to visit’. Perhaps I have too much time on my hand or not enough important stuff to think about? Or perhaps I’ve initiated an important debate on a very pertinent subject? I seriously doubt it as blogs have been around long enough for these issues to have been debated many times over. Well, whatever the merits of rambling on about this, you can be sure that ‘Places I’ve started to visit’ will be going soon.
I’ve yet to decide whether to dispense with categorisation altogether or whether to create some that are appropriate to this blog.