I finally tired of my blogroll and thrashed it, with the results you see on your left. The “Now” category consists of people I check every day — which doesn’t necessarily mean they write every day, although it helps — while everybody in “And Then” I check at least once a week. I will say in defense of this scheme only that it’s an improvement.
To the nice questions of blogroll politics I have no satisfactory answers. If someone links to you, should you link back? It seems only fair that you should, somehow, and I’ve created a Hall of Reciprocity for this purpose. This will not quite do; it’s like inviting someone to the wedding ceremony but not the reception. But I can think of nothing better.
My blogroll exists for my convenience and your curiosity. The oft-seen enormous blogroll defeats both purposes. No one this side of Instantman reads 200 blogs regularly. Yet I understand how it happens. A link, once established, tends to linger like a British houseguest.
When it comes to cleaning house, big bloggers are no problem. I grew bored with Andrew Sullivan and Mickey Kaus, where it’s all Times all the time, but they will not notice, let alone mourn, their sudden absence. Smaller bloggers are a different matter, and only a few, most of whom have posted so irregularly of late that their blogs are effectively moribund, have been demoted. I have also, at long last, buried the dead.
What to do, finally, about the blogs of your real-life friends? The usual solution, a “friends” category, smacks of favoritism. You may as well call it “Dude, your blog sucks, but you did bail me out of jail that one time, so here’s a link for you. Remember it the next time I call you at 3 AM,” except that’s a bit too long to fit nicely in the sidebar. Well, from now on my friends get the same treatment here as everybody else, and I’ll just have to raise my own bail money.
Wow, I’m in the same category as Lileks. Life is good.
Sullivan is still my first read in the morning, perhaps out of habit. (You, of course, are my second.) While his fixations are sometimes tiring, fixating may be the way for him to wield influence most effectively. And I consider him to be an exemplar of what American conservatism ought to look like, so I like to keep current with what he is saying.
Eddie: I agree that real influence probably does require fixation, or monomania, to put it less charitably. I’m not sure what American conservatism "ought" to look like (it’s a historical, not an ideal, construct, n’est ce pas?), but I rather doubt that most conservatives would look to Sullivan, whose three great themes are the rightness of the war, the perfidy of the Times, and the necessity of gay marriage, as their model.
How about what American conservatism should look like right now? Does that capture the historical sense of things?
I didn’t even really mean Sullivan’s issues per se, but rather Sullivan as an example of how conservatism can think through new problems, with the war on terrorism and gay marriage being prime cases. Conservatism ought to mean something more than just resistance to change, and in Sullivan it does. As to the "American" part of the conservatism, I am pointing to the classical liberal foundations of the country. Sullivan’s commitment to these is fairly apparent.
I do think you are right that Sullivan will never attract many of the people who consider themselves conservative, but his popularity is remarkable.
This Sullivan is pleased to appear in such rarefied company. I recently shrank my blogroll into two brief categories: Often & Sometimes. The big list has sunk deeper in the Bilge, with eighty or so blogs that I like for one reason or another. For practical and aesthetic reasons, I agree that it’s better to keep the featured list relatively short.
Thanks, Aaron. I almost never use my own blogroll because it’s such a mess, which meant I only found out last week that about a fifth of the sites on it were dead (in fact, one blog there had never been alive at any time I was linking to it).