Like: Blog discovery for the future?

There is a great discussion going on there with Dave Winer, Don Park and others including Greg McVerry and Kicks Condor.

This is the kind of discussion that needs to be done and this is the group to do it.  Frankly it makes my brain hurt, but in a good way.

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How to Add a Blogroll or Micro Link Directory in WordPress

Blogrolls fell out of favor in the blogging community but they are making a comeback.  There is an easy and free plugin for WordPress that can let you add and manage a blogroll or even a micro links directory in short order.

Once upon a time WordPress had a Links function, which let you manage lists of links.  This was commonly used for blogrolls.  A few years back, WordPress “bricked over” the Links function, hiding it.  But the core functionality is still there waiting to be used.

The Plugin I used was Links Shortcode, which is free and fairly simple to use. The plugin does two things:

It revives the Links Function in WordPress.

It lets you put those links on any Page of your WordPress site using a simple shortcode.

That’s it really.  The links function lets you divide up your links into categories (ie. blogroll, freestuff, causes you support…) so you can put one or several categories of links on pages you create.

Uses that come to mind:  Blogroll, small curated link directory, best of list, list of your identities on different social networks, the choices are endless.

Alternative:  Simple Links Directory Lite plugin.  The free version is limited and it’s a bit more complicated than Links Shortcode, but it works.

Surfing blogrolls used to be fun, it’s time to bring that back to blogging.  This article is part of the decentralized blog search and discovery strategy.

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In a previous conversation, I made a rough list of types of blog search directories and search engines.

Blog Discovery:  I’m sure directories are not the best solution for blog discovery, but like blogrolls they have a place at the table because they are low tech and cheap. Here’s a rough hierarchy:

  • Do In A Pinch: Blog acting as a directory.

  • Minimum: A proper directory script (ie. phplinkdirectory or similar) This allows for blog owner to submit their blog, write a description etc.

  • Better:  A directory script that not only lists blog URL but also lists blogs RSS feed.

  • Better x 2: Directory described above which also generates it’s own RSS feed for each category and subcategories.

  • Better x 3:  Some sort of fusion of the x2 directory above, and Indieweb stuff to some degree.  Maybe a fusion of a standard directory with Kicks Condor’s  This is just brainstorming.

  • Better x 4: Probably an RSS search engine like the old defunct Daypop or Icerocket. Because this leads the searcher to individual posts about a topic in close to real time.  Such an engine could use Post Kinds as filters for the searcher to refine their search.  There used to be a lot of RSS blog search engines I could find only RSSMicro today.

  • Best: Some sort of hybrid directory/RSS/crawler engine listing only blogs.  The search crawler digs deep into a blog for those posts from 2015 or before that are buried and won’t appear in feeds.  The RSS search engine for the newest posts.

I think I need to expand on this.

The more advanced the solution, the greater the technology bar to entry.  Just about anyone can start a human edited directory, but creating an RSS search engine requires more programming skill.  Moreover, the more advanced solutions require more money to run which again raises the bar to entry.

We see this now with web search, the cost to build a search engine that will rival Google is more than many countries can afford.

But if we only follow the technology route we create another set of silo’s like Google and Bing.

So in the blog world we need lots of different ways to discover blogs and blog posts.  We need ways for new blogs to be found by readers before their bloggers lose heart in talking to themselves.  We need many high tech search engines and many low tech directories so that the blogosphere does not become consolidated once again into a few silos.  No one source is going to index the entire blogosphere, and that’s okay. because each index is a collection.

The Indieweb plays an important role in this.  Webmentions will become the new backbone of making the Web the social network.  And they will also help blogs get discovered.  But right now Indieweb adoption is relatively small.  We also need to find audiences that are just readers who do not blog.  Because even siloed social networks have their own search function.

  • If there are 100,000 bloggers, then we need 100,000 blogrolls.
  • We need site searches, like phinde, that can index multiple domains.
  • We need many dozens of blog directories of all sorts: human reviewed and, somehow, Indieweb automated.
  • We need a dozen blog and RSS feed search engines.

All at the same time.  Let people choose their trusted sources.

Other reading:

Search Engine History

Bomis Webrings had Important Differences.

Indieweb, Discovery and Search.

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Oh there’s just so much to say about the start of this thread, and it gives me so much hope for the open web as well as potential growth for WordPress.

Source: Reply to Ryan Boren et al on the WordPress Link Manager, Calypso, and Indie Blogging

Yes, the Link Manager should be resurrected.

Also on:

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After much discussion I came up with a new blogroll. Ta da!

Not perfect but a bit easier to maintain.  I used the Links Shortcode plugin to resurrect the “Links” function in WordPress and let me put the links on a Page rather than a Widget.  I still have not fully figured out the formatting for the links lists but I got the core: clickable links, a description automatically arranged in alphabetical order.  Good enough.

I borrowed a lot of suggestions from Chris Aldrich.  Even though I didn’t use it, I like his use of the term “Following” page.  I think it fits better.  I stuck with “blogroll” because that’s what I’m used to.  I used a different plugin to resurrect the Links function but it gets the job done.  I copied his menu taxonomy and made my Blogroll Page a sub-page under “About”, not to hide it but to to personalize it and show ownership of it – that it is my list and should be equated with me.

Now I’m free to add blogs to the roll, so It will grow.

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7/12/2018 Flash

Feh. Apparently there are no good blogroll plugins for WordPress.   I did look extensively through the WP plugins directory but didn’t find anything interesting. Most plugins were way out of date for my version of WP.

Might be an opportunity there for the Indieweb movement to aid discovery.


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Does anyone have a recommendation for a good blogroll plugin for WordPress?

I’ve looked at Indieweb blogroll solutions and there are some really good implementations.  I really like Colin Walker’s directory of people who have commented via webmention.  It would be great to aid blog discovery and be automated like that at the same time.

However, I just don’t have the skills to be messing with things like editing php.  So, it needs to be a WP plugin.

I thought of adapting a WP links directory plugin but I’m hoping to find a dedicated blogroll plugin before I try that.

Anybody got a recommendation?


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