A blogroll is when you, the haver of a blog, make a public list of links to other blogs1.
How is that different from a web directory? It sort of implies “keeping up with”-ness. In a directory, one might very well link to a resource that had reached completion – but in a blogroll, you’d expect there to be some hope of continued posting2. They also link to a “top-level” blog in some sense; this might be a particular columnist’s feed at a publication, but it wouldn’t be a particular post as you might have in a directory.
The scope of a blogroll might be comprehensive, like mine – which really contains all the feeds I follow! – or very selective, like a chic club defined by a cool blog’s sidebar.
I am not convinced that we should try and fit everything into feeds, but for what they do well, they excel. Blogrolls are a cool way to hype up someone doing good stuff online, recommend more stuff to your readers, and advance the form generally.
Obviously this isn’t a list of every blogroll out there! However, if you were going to think about blogrolls in a meta way, here are some examples you might want under your belt.
The standalone blogroll has its own charm because they often add descriptions in a directory-like manner.
This can be a little fuzzy: I would also count it when a webcomic links to other webcomics, for instance. ↩
I don’t clear out stale personal blogs from mine just because, you know, people do sometimes revive things they haven’t used for years – and isn’t the beauty of RSS that I don’t have to manually check myself? That said, it’s common enough for people to change where their content is located when they come back from hiatus that this does sometimes bite me. ↩