hey you there, reader or weblog author: send me a link

I used to have a list of links to websites I read regularly (or try to read regularly), over there in the sidebar. I finally got rid of it when I realized it would always make me uncomfortable. Who was I forgetting? Who was I offending? Who was wondering how I got such a high opinion of myself (Catholic school. What can I say?). Better not to have it there at all.

Then I got a bright idea. I would put up links to writers’ weblogs, but only if I could include a direct link to a specific post that I particularly liked. Some accountability, thought I. That’s the ticket.

Except, two things: 1. It would take a lot of time to carry this out, because being the compulsive type I am, I would not find it easy to pick a representative post. 2. I would end up worrying just as much about this list of links as the old one. It’s still a good idea. I just needed a different way to implement it. And here it is, I think. Coincidentally, it lifts most of the burden off my shoulders and puts it — well, on yours. Here’s the plan.

There are two kinds of people who come by here. Those who read weblogs, and those who read them and also write one or more of their own. First to those of you who read weblogs but don’t write one, a question: can you name one of your favorites, and (most important) can you point to what you consider to be a really excellent post?

To those of you who write a weblog, can you point to one of your own posts that you think was particularly successful (how ever you define success; that’s up to you).

Now, I know nobody will come out and say something like this in public, so this will all be anonymous. If you’ve got a weblog & post to recommend, you can do that by signing your comment as your favorite fictional character, or by sending me an email. I am hoping that weblog authors will actually take heart in hand and point to their own favorite posts, because I think this would be the making of a really useful list of links. Not just for show. A list with some umph. Some character. And best of all: you won’t know if the link & post were suggested by a faithful reader, or by the author him or herself.

To put my money where my mouth is, if I had to pick one post of my own… damn, it’s hard. But okay, this one: On Depression. I didn’t say it had to be a funny post, just a post that you feel strongly about. I have other posts I like that turned out funny, but none of them ring quite so true as this one.

Imagine this, that when people click come by here and look at the list, when they follow the link to your weblog they don’t end up on today’s post about the mail being late, or the rant about the bookstore clerk, or anything else you consider not your best effort. Instead, they end up at a post you feel good about. I think people would be more likely to click in the first place. Everybody wins: more good stuff to read, and more readers discovering writers they didn’t know.

Here are some caveats (you knew these were coming). I expect I’ll get a lot of suggestions for some of the more popular blogs, and that’s fine. However, if I get fifteen different favorite post suggestions for the same weblog, I can’t put them all up. I will put up the first three. If the weblog author has a suggestion, that link will be one of the three, but you won’t know who suggested what.

Does this sound complicated? It really isn’t. If you’ve got a weblog, send me a link to a post you like a lot. If you have a favorite weblog, send me a link to a post you like a lot. You can say why you like the post in a few words, if you like, but it’s not obligatory.

And again: Anonymity all around.

If this takes off, I’ll have to find room for all the links, but I’ll take that chance.