Sunday, January 25, 2009

Site-related: Blogroll changes

Some of you who are linked in my blogroll may have noticed that the "Links to this post" section of your own posts, at your own blog, have been filling up with links back to PATSP. I know I've seen this at a few other blogs (Rock Paper Lizard, May Dreams Gardens, Wicked Gardener). Today, finally, someone pointed out (nicely) that it was kind of obnoxious, so I'm trying to fix it.

I don't definitely know what's responsible, but this never seemed to happen until I used the Blogger blogroll widget, so I've taken it down and, through arduous cut-and-pasting, replaced it with a plain list of links. The blogroll was enormously convenient for me; I really liked having it sort out which of the sites I like to read had updated recently, and how recently, and all that -- it saved me a lot of time compulsively checking sites over and over to see whether there was a new post. However, it's not worth cluttering up everybody else's blogs, so it's gone.

Hopefully this will resolve the problem. If it doesn't, well, I only really have just the one idea about how to fix it, so I may have to resort to Blogger Help or something. Anybody who has any ideas about why this happened, better ways to keep up with a large number of blogs at once, or alternative solutions to the problem, please feel free to speak up in the comments. I'll also accept retroactive complaining from people whose blogs I was inadvertently spamming, so long as we're all clear that I'm aware of the problem and trying to fix it.

For the record: I don't really care if your site produces a ton of links on my posts here at PATSP. If it does get to bothering me, I'm pretty sure there are options somewhere in the Blogger layouts for turning off automatically-generated links.


Hugh Griffith said...

I don't know why this started happening either. It's hit and miss, too, picking some, not all posts to include in the links list. It didn't use to do that, but I suppose I should get rid of that widget too, unless there's some sort of fix.

Wicked Gardener said...

So what am I doing? I hate it when I am being obnoxious without knowing how. I'd hate to loose the recent post feature, if I can help it.

mr_subjunctive said...

I don't actually know if you're being obnoxious to anybody or not, WG: I don't recall ever seeing a bunch of your posts lined up at someone else's blog. I just mentioned you specifically because I'd noticed PATSP links on a few of the posts at Wicked Gardener.

My theory, which is probably wrong, is that whatever little piece of code decides what counts as a link to one's post can't tell the difference between an actual link to the post and the link in the sidebar widget. So blog A puts up post A, and blog B's sidebar widget picks it up and posts a link to it. Whenever the bot that handles these things gets around to reading blog B's page, it sees the link to A and says, "Oh, goody! A link from B to A!" and adds a link at the end of A's post from B. And then every time the bot runs across a new page on blog B, one of the older posts, or one of the archive posts, or whatever, it doesn't see the sidebar, unchanged, it sees another link to A. So eventually blog A's post fills up with links from B.

The reason why I'm expecting this not to happen now that I've gotten rid of the blogroll widget is, the old-style blogrolls didn't have any links to specific posts, they were all links to entire blogs. Therefore, no bot sees any links going to any specific post, and nothing gets added to the "links to this post" list.

If my theory is correct, then May Dreams Gardens should have seen the largest number of PATSP links show up on her "Embrace Botanical Names" post, because I've had it linked in the sidebar here for quite a while. I suppose I could check.

But again -- this is only a theory, and it's probably wrong. I'm trying anyway, 'cause it's all I can think of.

mr_subjunctive said...

Well, plausible so far: "Embrace Botanical Names" has 44 (!) links from PATSP piled up at the end of the post, while the post from the following day, on similar subject matter ("Apparently, You Can be Too Pretentious!") has only one.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Sub, this has happened on wordpress too, but in a less in your face way. They (WP) say that google has changed something in the way links are identified. Wordpress used to have a list of blog posts that linked to our blog and we could go check it out and thank them. Now, it shows the links from many, but not all, blogs whose sidebar blogrolls contain a link to us. It is not possible to go and check each one of these everyday, so it has made that great feature now useless. They don't seem to be able to fix it, or it isn't a top priority. Bummer.

Hugh Griffith said...

Darnit Mr. S,

I've deleted the widget too, because I see how the side-effects could be considered obnoxious. I guess the best thing would be for everyone to stick a subscription widget on their blog, so they could be picked up by google reader or whichever.

Thank you for bringing this peculiar problem to our attention.

Aiyana said...

I'm glad I never went to the widget, mostly out of laziness. I've noticed that many people have gone back to the plain lists too.

Carol Michel said...

I'm not using the Blogger blogroll widget, never have, but have noticed the increase in the list of "links to this post". I think there is something that changed, but not something I changed.

I think the answer is to go into the settings and turn off the option to show links at the end of a post?

I need to check into this further.

Unknown said...

I've been puzzling over those too, but they don't particularly bother me if I find a dozen or three links at the bottom of a post. They only show up if one goes to the individual post, not on my main page which has several posts on it. Lots of odd things happen in the Blogger/google world; I was having a wild time posting comments last week, and probably some commented on my blog that got lost in transit too.