July 24, 2005

Some of you may have noticed some new additions to my blogroll, as well as other bloggers who are now missing. The explanation is, I've discovered the joys of syndication, and I can now track many more sites than I could before. The blogroll has always been mainly a tool of convenience for me: the sites listed on the right are the sites I read every day, and what has resulted is simply a lazy man's way of assembling different links without having to go through the trouble of saving them on my computer. Thanks to RSS/Atom feeds, I don't need to do that anymore, so I can prune the blogroll accordingly.

In the past, my standard for blogrolling was threefold: it had to be a site I visited everyday; it had to be published by someone accountable (ie., no pseudonyms, unless I have actually met the proprietor); or, in the alternative, it had to be someone who linked to me first. That's it; no political test, no e-mails suggesting a "link swap", or anything like that.

Recently, something has begun to bother me about a number of sites that I link to. The use of substitute bloggers, to maintain a site while the real author goes on vacation, gets operated on, or deals with events in the real world, has started to become more prevalent with the Big Feet in the blogosphere. Rather than losing that all-important ranking in the Blogger Ecosystem, or see any diminishment in the number of page visits that advertisers demand, the guys at the top of the mountain have started foisting assorted friends, flunkies and knob polishers in their stead.

I happen to believe that practice pertrates a fraud on the public. And obviously, I'm not talking about group blogs, such as the Kos universe or Hit&Run, or sites like the ones run by Drum, Marshall or Alterman (whose site is more of an on-line daily newsletter than a blog), where other writers appear as a routine policy. I'm referring, instead, to blogs such as the one you're reading, only bigger, sites that present themselves to the world as the individual expression of the person (or persons) writing them.

There is simply no substitute for the original. Bringing in a replacement while you go to the Bahamas shows utter contempt for your audience, who, after all, have made it a point to visit your blog because they want to hear your voice, not some understudy's. It is also degrading to the understudy, because it puts him in the position of an underling, existing only to maintain your traffic levels, not to develop his own audience or communicate his views.

So as to this noisome practice, I draw a line in the sand. Henceforth, my blogroll will omit any reference to blogs, even blogs that link to me, during any period that a substitute blogger is employed in place of the real thing. I regret the inevitable massive loss in traffic to those sites, but someone has to say no to this scam if this emerging medium is going to maintain any ethical standards.

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