I’ve been thinking lately about blogrolls – collection of links to other blogs – which go by various titles – ‘favourites’, ‘blogs I like’, etc – according to the preferences of particular bloggers. There is a Wikipedia explanation of the term blogroll, which includes an amusing comment on the difference between the American and English explanations for the derivation of the term.

A Google search will bring up plenty of links to blog posts and articles or abstracts on the social networking implications of blogrolls. My interest is currently focused on whether or not it is a good idea for a business blog to have a blogroll.

I’ve heard it argued that having other people’s links on your blog could be detrimental to your business, in that people are in effect being encouraged to leave your blog and visit elsewhere. On the other hand, some would argue that a special feature of the blogosphere is that there is a community, or – perhaps better – communities of interest and that the blogroll is a way of strengthening community links, which it is argued can be beneficial for business.

My approach till now has been that I am happy to have on my blog some links to other blogs I like, or where there is some evident synergy with the subject matter of my blog. I did however do a cull the other day on this blog’s list, letting some links go where I observed that there was no reciprocal link (not that I’d asked for them) and that in some instances the other blogger did not apparently have any links, let alone one to my blog.

I do find it fascinating  – and admittedly often a time-consumer of dubious if any economic benefit to me – to do a bit of a browse through a blogroll and speculate on why the blogger in question would have chosen this or that link. An example is the Everyday Economist blog, which has links to a few sites of evident relevance to the stated range of interests of the Everyday Economist blog.

I had looked up the Everyday Economist blog as part of the weekly blog boost project some of us in the LinkedIn Bloggers group maintain.

But there was one link from the Everyday Economist that intrigued me. It’s to the Holy Shmoly! blog of well known Irish blogger, Donncha O Caoimh. I couldn’t immediately see the connection, which of course doesn’t mean there isn’t one that could be fairly obvious when explained. Does the Everyday Economist have some Irish heritage, or is it Donncha’s humour which appeals, or is it the geeky posts in Holy Shmoly that are of interest?

I must admit I went off into a bit of a tour of Donncha’s world and Donncha’s links. Which does tend to reinforce the idea that having a blogroll can be an inducement to people to leave. But surely they will leave anyway, some time. The question for me is, will they come back, or collect my RSS link for their newsreader?

In the management of this blog and one or two others, I’ve tried to reduce some of the mystery about why I have chosen some blogs to link to, by generally including the blogger’s name and some descriptive information. Some of the blogging platforms, like Blogware which I use here via BlogHarbor, and also Typepad, make it very easy to add a mouseover-displayed note by way of a summary of what the linked blog is about, which can help explain why one might have chosen this or that blog to include.

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