The Politics of Linking

In the past few days, a lot has been said about gender, blogging, and the politics of who links to whom and why. I’ve mostly been sitting on the sidelines of that debate, but today I got an email from a recent commenter—after responding to a comment thanking him for stopping by and asking him how he happened to find my blog—that gave me reason to think about these issues. It’s posted here with his permission.

I know I saw your site linked to on someone’s blogroll, but I don’t remember where. I’m pretty sure it was on a female blogger’s list, though. Out of the blogs I read, your blog is linked to by women more often than (straight) men, perhaps even exclusively linked to by women. Which leftwing bloggers link to what blogs would certainly be an interesting study, wouldn’t it?

It certainly would be interesting, since much of the debate of the last few days concerned how few male political bloggers link to female bloggers in their blogrolls. A quick look at my own, now that I think of it, does yield some links to female bloggers, though I’ve never surveyed my blogroll to see how many male vs. female bloggers are linked there. I started out just linking to blogs I liked reading. Then I started linking to blogs I discovered linking to mine, and I’m still discovering new links.

It’s got me wondering. Just what are the "politics of linking" from one blog to another? Do more women than men link to my blog? I don’t really know, but it would be interesting to find out. I know this blog isn’t exclusively linked by women, because I can name some of the male bloggers on my blogroll who actually link back to me.

Is there some reason women link to my blog more than other men do? Is it not one particular reason, but some strange (explosive?) mixture of gender, sexuality, and politics? Is it true that male bloggers tend to link to other male bloggers more often than to women’s blogs?

The criteria for chosing who to add to a blogroll probably differ from one blogger to another. But it’s entirely likely that political leanings as well as conscious or unconscious issues with race, gender, and sexual orientation play a roll in those choices.

So, do more women link to this blog than men? And if so, why? I’m interested in knowing, and interested in adding anyone to my blogroll who links to me but isn’t currently on it.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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22 Responses to The Politics of Linking

  1. Tim Who? says:

    I’m male (tim, who would have guessed?) and I link to your blog. I’m also gay but for me that has nothing to do with it. There are plenty of gay blogs and I have little or no interest in them. I’m a photographer and I don’t have a single link to any photographers blog. I have a culinary degree and I don’t have a single link to any cooking blog.

    I link and I read for one fact and one fact only. Your writing.

    You don’t write what you think, you write what you FEEL. And that makes all the difference in the world to me.

    You write about yoursef and your family about where you are and where you want to go, and you do so with eloquence and a style all your own You talk about what’s important in your life and you share it with us.

    And to me. Nothing else matters.

    If only I could write so well….

  2. Sean Hurley says:

    Tim Who?: Your comment is well written. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

    T, I’ve been following your blog since shortly after you started. However (ahem) you still haven’t linked to my new web log.


  3. Terrance says:

    Thanks, Sean. Not sure how I missed your blog, but it’s been added to the blogroll.

  4. Carla says:

    I linked to your site because I like coming here to read. I don’t always comment, but I thoroughly enjoy what you have to share with in the virtual world.

  5. ChrisV82 says:

    I’m not black, gay, a father, a vegetarian, a buddhist, or a liberal (no, wait, I AM a liberal), but I come here because a) I enjoy your writing and b) I enjoy your perspective, which may be different than mine and something I hadn’t thought of, but should have.

    However, I think because your blog is so different than, say, someone like Atrios, there may be a reluctance towards, disinterest in or even lack of awareness regarding your blog. For example, I support transgendered people’s right to be who they are, but I’m not breaking down their doors to listen to their world/worldview. If I found a good transgendered blog, I’d read it, but I’m not coming across them and I’m not actively seeking them out.

    To be stereotypical, female bloggers may have a better appreciation for what you do because they experience their own minority status.

  6. moby says:

    What a great post. I never thought of it that way. I stumbled across your blog from several different sites so I figured you must be a good read. Once I started reading it on a regular basis, I discovered you were. *G*

    Mine is just the opposite. My links are almost exclusively men. However, I tend to blog on more personal issues than political. Maybe that means more women are actually paying attention. *sly grin*

  7. Houston says:

    I link for several reasons. The most flattering is because I think the person is interesting and I’m just curious about what they have to say about almost anything. I read a lot of blogs in a very quick time. If you’re on a subject of interest to me, I read it through. If you’re not, and no one bats a 1000, I move on. I just come back regularly. I think you’re a fairly interesting guy. We share several communities of interest and if we lived in the same block, we’d be friends. Just because we don’t live on the same block physically, doesn’t mean we don’t live on the same block virtually.


  8. paperwight says:

    I’m a straight guy, and I linked to you because I read what you had to say for a couple weeks and I thought it was interesting.

    I think I found you through King of Zembla.

  9. Steve S says:

    I link because of the gay parenting. I love the politics, your writing and all the rest too, but I created my blog to create a snapshot of my family and my life and did a search for something like ‘gay parenting blog’, I don’t recall exactly what the term was though. I didn’t know (and still don’t like many of us) what’s in store for us as families in the future, as well as advice on how to handle day-to-day things about raising a young one, so I enjoy the parenting aspect as well as the political.

    My posting is still erratic enough, I don’t even have a blogroll. I just add it in the html like they did in the caveman days. I posted several parenting blogs because I use my front page to jump off from, rather than bookmarks.

  10. John says:

    I have exactly one criterion for linking to blogs: do I find the blog interesting enough to read on a regular basis? I’ve also learned to wait a while before linking (in one or two cases I’ve linked to a blog and then a few weeks later, felt like I didn’t really want to be linking to it after all).

    I don’t feel obligated to link to someone because they link to me, though I certainly appreciate the links. One of my concerns with my link list is that if it gets too long, it ceases to be useful. I have it there to tell my visitors what other blogs I find interesting, in hopes that they will check them out. If there are forty blogs there, I think people will pretty much ignore it.

    I link to you.

  11. John P. Hoke says:


    I am straight, white, somewhere between liberal and libertarian (I call it Libercrat) and I link here, why? Because Terrance paid me of course … not much mind you, but every dime helps 🙂

    Ok, but seriously… originally, way back when it was because he posted a number of political entries that I had to come back and read, then it was because I dig his writing, and now because I just have to read it…

    I think this whole thing about who links to whom is pointless. I do not link to men, nor women, black white or purple… I link to blogs that are well written, interesting, and offer something that others don’t … Granted my blogroll is probably skewed towards men bloggers, but it is not because they are better, or that I don’t like women bloggers … frankly I think Rox is one of the best out there, with Lauren as a close second… male or female … but it’s just the way it grows.

    Also, I do not think that a blogroll is an endorsement of the blog… I have ‘rolled blogs I don’t agree with, but who’s views are well expressed.

    I hope the rambling above makes sense to someone, I am on one too many vicodins for a nasty toothache, so my thought processes may be a bit more skewed than normal LOL!

  12. Roxanne says:


    I found you via Lauren and I link to you because you have a perspective that’s unique and you express your views well. Also, you’re in my ‘hood and sometimes it more relevant to read about what’s happening down the street than in Peoria.

    PS. Thanks for the props, John.

  13. Jim Burroway says:

    We exchanged links so long ago I honestly can’t remember how I found you. But I always stop in to see your take on things, and to see if there’s an off-chance you have an update about the beautiful kid of yours.

    I only have a couple of women on my blogroll as well. I don’t have a good explanation for it. I’ve thought about it for a long time, but somehow my blogroll is just the way it is.

    Also, you’re the only African-American on my blogroll that I know of. Again, no good explanation.

    But here’s a thought. Most of us, at least those of us who don’t live in ethnically diverse cities, tend to hang out with people like ourselves. Despite all of the changes that we like to think have occured in our culture, somehow it still works out that way, sort of like the tables in the high school cafeteria. Maybe the blogroll is the 21st century’s lunchroom table.

  14. D. Dagger says:

    Dear Mr. T-
    I loved you on the A-Team, you were my favorite. And…wait a mintue, wrong T.

    Oh, hello there cyber world. I thought I was alone. Let me tell you how the D. met the T. I first encountered T in a qaint little cafe in Paris. It was a crisp Spring morning and T was sipping a cappuccino while reading La Resistance…..oh fuck, wrong T again.

    Ok, ok, I met this T through Liberal Blogs and got linked to his old blog. I linked T on my blog because I love reading his unique view points and it’s refreshing to look at the world through his eyes.

    I link because of substance, not gender or race or whatever. But you gotta be liberal…I mean that’s a given.

    Keep up the good work T. One fist in the air!

  15. rod says:

    Congrats on the new changes, your column and now radio. It’s not a republic any longer… it’s the Empire of T? lol

    My blogroll initially began as an easy way for me to follow my blogs day-to-day. Of course, I had never heard of Bloglines, Kinja or RSS feeds. But I like to keep up a blogroll, it’s like a posse, and chat up whoever’s on it.

    Months ago, I origially linked here because it’s a great read. Our politics are very similar, but our blogs very dissimilar … you’re extremely progressive,political and consciousness … and my site is entertainment, media and other vapid non-such. But my impression is that we admire each other’s take on issues.

    There are some blogs that I link to that do not link to me, it’s not a requirement. And that’s okay.

    I can see why many women would link here. You’re very thoughtful, and talk about core issues like family, reproductive and sexual freedom, the war, etc.


  16. hope says:

    I don’t have a big blogroll. And in fact, I rarely update it. There are blogs on my blogroll that I stopped reading a year ago, and blogs I check daily that aren’t listed. I am too lazy, I guess. But originally, I linked to people I know in real life and to blogs I regularly enjoyed reading.

  17. JW Richard says:

    My links are personal and local friends, blended with personal and global inspirations. Thanks for being.

  18. Zefrog says:

    Reading your entry made take a look at my own blogroll. I had the feeling that it was fairly evenly distributed between male and female blogs. I think this has to do with the fact that some of my favorite blogs there are the female ones.

    Coming down to the actually numbers however, it turns out that out of current 19 blogs on my blogroll, 4 only are female. My explanation for this is that being gay, I will be looking for male blogs more easily (especially if they are gay) as I will probably be in a better position to relate to them. I must say however that it is not really a conscious decision and that I will link to whatever tickles my fancy regardless of who writes it. Show me good female blogs and I will link to them.

    On a more general note (and I am rather new to the blog thing), I seem to notice that linking is quite incestuous. Ie groups of people will interlink with each other which means that some blogrolls are rather unspiring and not very varied.

    Finally, I can’t remember where I first saw your blog… is that helpful or what? :O)

  19. I’m pretty sure I wrote about this topic a year or more ago but I can’t find the post. Suffice it to say, you can use any criteria you want to link (obviously). Flipping to a readership POV, when I see a link to a blogger on a site, I assume the linker has formed some type of relationship with that person or holds them in high regard. That isn’t always the case, of course. People often link out of “obligation”.

    When I was conducting my 100 Comments In 100 Hours project in 2003, I kept running across the obstacle of “Blog Circles”. I had to aske myself why were the same (unpopular) blogs turning up on certain lists.

    I don’t post a blogroll because it’s too difficult for me to manage and I hate dealing with “de-linking” drama. Also, a long list of links isn’t aesthetically pleasing to me.

    How would it matter if more females linked to you than males? Would you change the way you write one way or another?

  20. Zefrog says:

    j. brotherlove Says: […] I don’t post a blogroll because it’s too difficult for me to manage and I hate dealing with “de-linking” drama. Also, a long list of links isn’t aesthetically pleasing to me.[…]

    A good way to get around the blogroll maintenance “drama”, is to subscribe to your blogs via Bloglines, your normal agregator, it also allow to post the blog you are subscribing to as a blogroll on your blog via a small bit of HTML code you can just past on your blgo’s template… easy!

  21. Meri says:

    I link to blogs that I want to read whenever they update. I haven’t even tried any of these newfangled newsreader thingammeys yet, so my blogroll really is about having the ability to open in tabs every blog that’s been updated since I last posted.

    I found you via Scott Matthewman’s blog and I keep coming back because I like reading what you have to say.

    PS I’m a lesbian 😉

  22. Mark says:

    I’m late to this issue, but wanted to let you know I’ve linked to your blog because I find it well written, the topics are interesting, and you bring up excellent points. FWIW, I’m a straight, married, male with Libertarian tendencies. 🙂

    I wouldn’t necessarily call mine a ture blog since it’s on MSN Spaces, but it does give me an outlet (not to mention it’s in my prices range … FREE). And I don’t link to a blog hoping they link back to mine — I just do it because I think the blog to which I link is worth reading.

    Anyway, just thought I’d let you know that, as a n00b to the blogosphere, I don’t care the gender, sexuality, or anything else of the person behind the blog. A blog either sucks, or it doesn’t.

    Take care, and keep up the great work!!

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