Rethinking the Weekly Weblinks

Every Friday (or the occasional Saturday) morning, I’ve been posting the “Weekly Weblinks”, sharing select blog posts that I felt were worth sharing along with various tidbits of news that warranted talking about but didn’t warrant a major post of their own. I started doing this back in May, making it a recurring feature of the site. It seemed like a good way to share the spotlight with some deserving folks.

But after six months, I’m starting to feel that the downsides are outweighing the upsides. You may have noticed it being a little more difficult for me to get them together the past few weeks, and that has mostly been due to outside circumstances (such as the glitch in my email server a few weeks ago), but it’s also in part because of a reduced enthusiasm on my part for making the posts.

To explain why I’m thinking of either scrapping or retooling the Weekly Weblinks, I think I should probably state why they existed in the first place. Blogs are, while inherently personal, also a form of social media. We form communities with our fellow bloggers and commentators. And we try to support each other. One way this comes into play is in trying to share the spotlight with each other, trying to make sure that somebody who is deserving of attention gets that attention. Lots of blogs have a blogroll on their sidebar (or occasionally a sub-page) to highlight friends and deserving blogs.

I had a blogroll for only a few months before I removed it. It wasn’t anti-social, it was practical. Nobody actually uses blogrolls, or almost nobody in any case. I can’t remember ever clicking a link in a blogroll. All you see is the title of a page, and I don’t know why to click “Bob’s Movie Reviews” or “Joe’s Movie Reviews” or “Mike’s Movie Reviews”. I prefer to see who is making interesting comments on my blog and the blogs I already follow, and then see what they’re writing on their own blog. Now, that’s just me… but I was hearing much the same from other bloggers who were removing their blogrolls, and it was borne out on the stats page of my WordPress dashboard; nobody clicks blogrolls.

So after I removed my blogroll, I thought for several months on how to spread the wealth (insofar as my traffic can be considered “wealth”; I’m strictly small potatoes compared to a lot of the people around here.) Twitter and Facebook are pretty common ways to share the links, but I’ve never been that great about using social media. It took me months to create a Twitter account for my site, and I only created a Facebook page for it on its first anniversary, just two months back. Hell, my own personal Facebook page is only three years old. I’m still not very good at clicking the “Share” buttons beneath a blog post that I like; I need to get better about it. But the Weekly Weblinks were intended as a way for me to share those blog posts that I feel are deserving. More than a blogroll, the idea was that these would show why readers should check out other blogs, by showing the posts that made them worth checking out.

Problem is… although they arguably make me a better sharer… I’m feeling like they’re making me a worse reader and participant. If I get behind in my reading for a day or two, which is pretty much inevitable — I’m not always just sitting at my computer waiting for stuff to read — the email notices for blog posts pile up pretty quickly. It’s not unusual for me to have 30 or 40 posts unread come Thursday. Before the Weekly Weblinks, that wasn’t really a problem; I could just read the posts when I got around to them. Now, I feel like if I want to share things in a timely fashion, I need to make sure I clear out my inbox every week. It’s a self-imposed pressure, sure, but it’s there. And that means I often wind up skimming things too quickly, or giving short replies to get to the next thing, or reading blog posts past the point where my eyes are strained, or any number of other things that mean I’m not really giving the individual posts a fair chance. It isn’t right, and what’s more, it’s a bit of a hassle. This wasn’t ever meant to be a hassle. Plus, there’s also the factor of wanting to share things equally, which leads to situations where if a person posts two great things in a week, I’m deciding whether to only share one of them, and which one… it’s more thought and effort than it was meant to be, and more than it should be.

It’s supposed to be a fun, friendly sharing thing, but it’s feeling a bit more like work, or like I’m passing judgment on what post is more deserving. Again, this is all just self-imposed pressure, but it doesn’t make sense to me to keep allowing for it to be possible.

None of this should be taken as a slam on any of the blogs, or an unwillingness to share. Far from it; I wouldn’t be reading the blogs if I didn’t feel they were worth sharing. But that’s kind of the point. Just about all of it is worth sharing, but I can’t share everything, and I’m finding it a little draining to pick and choose.

And then there’s the other thing… for all the work that does go into it, I don’t think there’s much of a return on investment. The Weekly Weblinks aren’t accomplishing what they’re supposed to accomplish. Nobody clicks through on blogrolls… and nobody clicks through on the Weekly Weblinks either. WordPress provides stats on such, and I’ve been paying attention to it since I started this — it was the point, after all, to send traffic everybody else’s way — and it’s just not happening. The Weekly Weblinks generate an average of two click-throughs per week. Two. Out of anywhere from four to ten blog posts per week and over a hundred followers (some of whom probably don’t check in, but still). I could speculate on the reasons — my best guess is that because of the communal nature of blogging, most of my visitors have simply already seen everything I would find worth sharing — but it doesn’t matter a lot. The point is that, in terms of sharing the spotlight, the Weekly Weblinks are not a success.

I say this not out of any emotional feeling, but simply as a statement of fact. The Weekly Weblinks were meant to drive traffic to other bloggers, and they don’t do so.

So, in the interest of not driving myself to distraction over something that’s not working, the Weekly Weblinks aren’t going to continue, at least not in their current form. I’ll try to be better about clicking the Twitter and Facebook buttons below blog posts, but I’m not going to go rushing my reading or sifting posts to pick something to share every week. The news section may continue in some form, though. It doesn’t bother me if nobody clicks through to the news sources, and these little blurbs can still generate some discussion (and have, in small doses). And I like being able to say a few words about news items that aren’t quite big enough to warrant a separate post of their own. But I may change the name, or make it non-weekly, or any number of other possible changes. We’ll see.

I’ll work on being better at sharing via Twitter and Facebook; it may yield the same end results, given that most of my followers there are presumably reading my blog, but perhaps not. And I’ll certainly keep commenting on other blogs, and finding new blogs to read through the comments sections; probably more so now that I’m not going to be rushing through things as much. And I’ll happily take part in any interesting blog-a-thons and other community activities (I’m working on my submission for one right now). But the Weekly Weblinks, as they are now, are done for now.

About Morgan R. Lewis

Fan of movies and other media
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23 Responses to Rethinking the Weekly Weblinks

  1. Bubbawheat says:

    As much as bloggers appreciate the shares, I agree that there are very few good methods of generating “click-through”s. Even my Follow Friday series which many people enjoy reading, the bloggers enjoy participating in, still only generates 2-3 click-throughs. Which is quite a bit better than, say a blogroll which I don’t have, but I’m on several and they give me about 1-2 click-throughs a month. I think the biggest problem is that many of your regular readers are also regular readers of what you’re featuring, and most of your drop-in readers are only interested in what they were searching for and nothing else. I’d love to see a better format, but until then, just use something that you enjoy writing. That’s the safest bet.

    • Yeah. I’m fairly sure by now that most of the people who follow me — that genuinely follow me and aren’t just WordPress’s fleet of “Like This” spammers hoping their name generates a click to their sales site — already follow most of the blogs I follow. It’s a natural corollary to the community that’s been built up among movie bloggers.

  2. le0pard13 says:

    I completely understand, Morgan. I myself have been contemplating my blogroll and its purpose. Few ever click on those links, unfortunately. It may not be around much longer, either. I feel okay with that because I am pretty active promoting friend’s and acquaintance’s blogs and writings via Twitter/Facebook. Whatever you decide to do, your followers will be there. Thanks for this, and the things you’ve shared.

  3. Will says:

    I used to do a similar link post every week and stopped for basically the same reasons: no one clicks through to the links. It seems the only people who cared were those I was linking, which is always nice, but it kind of defeats the purpose. I did enjoy your feature more than other link posts, though. I thought you handled it rather well and the news bites were always a good batch of things I may or may not have already known.

    Looking forward to whatever form it takes in the future, and thanks for linking me here and there in the past! Always much appreciated and it made me feel like I was doing something right.

    • Thanks, Will. It’s kind of reassuring to know that I’m not the only one to have tried this and found it lacking. (Well, kind of. 🙂 )

      The news bites might still continue in some form… that part, I felt worked reasonably well.

  4. You’re good with the news. I enjoyed that here…

    I nuked my blogroll myself, and even follow fridays wind up being a hassle for me sometimes. So I understand where you’re coming from.

    Cant resist busting your balls though that you complain about blogging time constraints within the context of a 1,500 word post. 😉 LOL. Heh heh.

    Rock on, Morgan. Rock on.

    • “Terse” is not among my virtues. 😀 But yeah, it’s not the writing of the WW post so much as the fact that if I get behind in my reading, I get far behind fast, and the WW posts made me feel like that was something I couldn’t afford to do. Without them, if it takes me a week to get around to reading something, that’s OK. Again, just that “self-imposed pressure” thing, but eh. You know the drill.

      I actually looked at your blogroll-nuking post when I was thinking about this and the comments section there just to get a bead on how people might react. I had the feeling people wouldn’t really care much, but you know how it can be when you’re relying just on your own speculation on how people might feel.

  5. Sad to see the Weekly Weblinks go, but I definitely understand the reasons behind the decision. I’ve been there. Hell, I’m there every freakin week. What I enjoyed most were the news blurbs since, as you said, I rarely clicked on the links because I’d already read the posts you were recommending.

  6. Nostra says:

    Shame to see it go, but the reasoning for it is sound. As for the blogrolls I think you are right. Might need to remove my one as well (since it’s horribly outdated anyway)

    • Yeah. I really wonder if there’s any way to genuinely spread awareness of other blogs, given the way we all tend to network anyway. Checking out other commentators and blogathons appear to be about it, because those will once in a while draw in somebody new, but other than that… I am starting to think it’s all just sharing the same thing everybody’s seen already.

  7. Tyson Carter says:

    I did away with the blogroll and just use the community widget. Shows off anyone who has liked or commented, and has a nice little gravatar for all to see. Whether anyone clicks them or not I dont really know, but I feel its just my way of saying a quick thanks, and I hope people check out their stuff. I tend to find new blogs via comments left on other sites 🙂 I did appreciate being mentioned in your weblinks but I totally see your point of view on it.

  8. Eric says:

    Completely understand where you’re coming from, Morgan. I used to run a similar feature each week, but I don’t think I made it past a month. As you said, very few people were clicking the links, and it became a hassle to try to keep up with everything. I get woefully behind on my blog reading bad enough already, and having to compile a list of my favorites each week would be a little too difficult right now. But I appreciate all the work you put into the series, and for the generous links you have sent my way!

  9. Mark Walker says:

    It was always nice to get a little shout-out on the weekly links bit like everyone seems to be saying… I understand your reasons for dropping it. I often wondered how much of a nightmare it would be to keep up. It’s hard enough as it is.

    • Yeah. If it were easy to maintain, I might stick with it to see if it picked up in effectiveness. Or if it effectively drove traffic, I might try and figure out how to keep doing it with a little less effort. But when it’s both a hassle and ineffective….

  10. I’ve always enjoyed reading the Weekly Weblinks and have always loved getting mentioned but I can absolutely see where it would be too much work. As of this minute, I have over 800 blogs to catch up on just from being busy for the past week or so.
    I think spreading the word through Twitter/Facebook will likely be easier on you and still have largely the same result.

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