Your time is valuable. You are a very important person. Thus, I promise to treat you accordingly. Every blogger should hold that mantra dear, if only out of self-interest. After all, who wants to continue visiting a blog that turns out to be just one big waste of time? It is a recipe for zero readers.
When I link to another blog, or a news article, or some bit of information, it's going to be worthwhile at some level. You will be informed or entertained, enlightened or inspired, shocked or outraged, relieved or emboldened. You'll get something out of it, one way or another.
Instapundit, primarily a linker/editor, gets well over 100,000 visitors a day (between 2 and 3 visitors per second), not because he links everything everyone sends him, every single time. It's because you know clicking a link on his site will take you to something worthwhile.
Likewise, it is not arbitrary that 14,000+ people visit Wizbang each day. Traffic is high because there are worthwhile stories. Stories that make you think. Stories that appeal to your prurient interests. Stories you can talk about at the dinner table, or around the water cooler, or on your own blogs. Jay Tea, Kevin, and Paul offer great content on a consistent basis.
There's also a good reason why, out of 14.2 million alleged blogs, only a few hundred get any kind of traffic at all-- and only a dozen or two get "bigtime" traffic.
Now, think about all the people joining the blogosphere, every single day. Technorati estimates that every five months, the number of blogs doubles. Many of those blogs last but a few months, many are updated too infrequently to be worthwhile, and some are set up for spamming or other nefarious purposes. But a lot of them are worthwhile.
Some of the more successful and worthwhile bloggers of this decade may have yet to join the blogosphere. Think about it. It's absolutely true.
But how do smaller bloggers get noticed? One obvious (and sort of fun) way is the "Blog Carnival." There are Carnivals of Capitalists, of Revolutions, of Liberty, of Crazy, and several other more narrow topics, as well as general-interest carnivals, such as the Carnival of the Vanities I hosted earlier this week. In some ways, the proliferation of blog carnivals has gotten out of hand.
Bloggers have abused the Carnival apparatus, cheapening it with "submission whoring." After all, why not just submit something every single week, to every single carnival out there? You may get a few dozen or even a few hundred hits out of it, no matter how worthless or inane the post is!
Kevin, in his infinite wisdom, created the Bonfire of the Vanities as a sort of "anti-carnival." But even the Bonfire has suffered from a certain submission "inflation."
So, this week, I hosted the Granddaddy of them all, the Carnival of the Vanities. And I took the rather non-controversial, entirely sensical step of rating the posts. Hey, I am just showing you, the reader, some respect. You likely have time to click on one or two of the links, so why not avoid the tin and go for the gold?
Predictably, the bloggers who submitted crap and got called out for it were offended. I am offended, meanwhile, that these bloggers would submit such crap-- and then complain when called out for it!
What an insult to the entire blogosphere. Nobody is entitled to have the entire world read his or her thoughts. But that's what has become of the Carnival establishment, a sense of entitlement. The critics of a rating system for carnival posts assert that a rating system ruins the "vibe" of the Carnival. What is this supposed vibe, anyway? To hear these folks talk about it, the "vibe" is nothing but feigned equality and a warped form of free blogger love.
Newsflash: Not all posts are created equal. Meanwhile, most people don't have the time to read about your fledgling rock band's gig last night, or what you should include in your personal dating ad, or your review of a movie everyone already saw more than a year ago.
Nobody cares about that stuff, unless you are an extraordinarily gifted writer.
Another newsflash: Most people, sadly enough, are not extraordinarily gifted writers.
So let's review, shall we?
Against the rating system:
For the rating system:
My plea to those hosting blog carnivals:
Screen the entries. Rate them. Categorize them. Roast them. Praise them. Just make the carnivals meaningful to the average reader again.
My plea to those submitting to blog carnivals:
Screen your own entries. Don't submit drivel. At least proof your entries.
My plea to those reading blog carnivals:
I am asking you to demand more from your blog carnivals. I am asking that you take a stand, opposing carnivals that pretend every post is equally good. And when a blog carnival does weed out the duds from the legit entries, visit that carnival. Visit the hell out of it.
You'll be doing the blogosphere a favor, while making the world a better place to live.
Will Franklin battles with knowledge at WILLisms.com.