How to Be a Godblogger Who Matters…


Lately, I’ve been besieged with pleas for me to…

…review books in a sort of “reviews for links” mutually beneficial pact.
…join a network of bloggers.
…sell ad space on Cerulean Sanctum.
…list my site on the latest Christian group blogroll.

All four have been troubling, but only one of those will receive the most attention in this post. Care to guess which?

* I like books, but I can’t do book reviews. I simply don’t have the time. While the Canadian government has successfully cloned Tim Challies so he can attend conferences, review books and DVDs, write books, work as a Web designer, and post meaningfully 365 days a year for years on end, I stand for hours at a time somewhere in the middle of my house mumbling, “Now what was I doing?” Like everyone else, I blame George W. Bush for halting the American counterpart to Canada’s wildly successful human cloning program. I suspect, though, that should a clone of Dan Edelen ever be delivered to my household, the two of us would collide in the middle of the house, stare at each other vacantly for hours, and eventually get around to asking in stereo, “Now what were we doing?”

* Network of bloggers? Last time I looked, they called that The Internet. It’s some little doodad Al Gore devised out of carbon offsets.

* Long ago, I promised not to sell ad space here. While some bloggers make $10,000+ a month off ads, I spend about that much per month trying to fend off hotlinkers, sploggers, and a host of other vampiric creatures from the nether regions of cyberspace. Selling ads makes you beholden to your advertisers, and since I manage to cheese off just about everyone in Christendom at some point or other during the course of my regular blogging, I can’t see how that would ever work. Don’t want to sell my soul to the company store, if you catch my drift. I do put in a few hours a day on this blog, and that does take me away from paid work, so I’m considering a tip jar. And yes, I’ve been sweating that consideration for about eighteen months now—but that’s not what this post is about.

* No this post is about that last item of the four: listing my site on (and subsequently hosting) group blogrolls. Seems like a score of people are pushing their homegrown group blogroll or award badge. Just Add Your Link Here! and you’ll be assured of instant blogging success! Here’s the code! Just shove it into your sidebar! You’ll be at the top of the charts in no time!


I started blogging in the Cambrian Period of blogdom, when giant Web Trilobites roamed cyberspace, feasting on the dying flesh of Usenet. Glenn Reynolds was known mostly as a geeky law professor in a Red State, while James Lileks was actually still shopping at Kmart. Hey, everyone's got a blog, don't they?Back then, having anyone link to your blog seemed tantamount to a marriage proposal, as if you were legally indebted to the linker. To not reciprocate the link sent shockwaves through blogdom, causing grown men to faint dead away and women to spontaneously combust.

Nowadays, though, some people must spend all day signing up for (and hosting) group blogrolls and adding yet another award badge to their ever-increasing numbers of sidebars. It used to be a sort of knowing wink-wink, this game. See, these newfangled sites like Technorati and N.Z. Bear’s TTLB Ecosystem will rate your site and—clap!—PUMP YOU UP, or at least pump up your blog, so you can, well…be pumped up.

Now I admit I have a TTLB Ecosystem listing on my site. I joined the Ecosystem during the Permian Period of blogdom. Thought the darn thing kind of cute, truth be told. But what then to make of all these folks trying to get me to join their own group blogroll?

Now before I go any further in this little exposé, I want to put up a disclaimer:


I mentioned recently that my failure to slavishly check my logs led to 200,000 hits in the last three months from MySpace users hotlinking my image files (all public domain images, ironically). Visitor logs? For me, it’s not about how many readers this blog gets. I was ecstatic when I got a comment early into my blogging life. I’m still ecstatic when you folks comment here. Tells me people do read what I write. But it’s not about numbers and never has been.

Unfortunately, it seems to be about numbers for some other Christian folks and that bugs me, especially when we consider why it matters to them. So I did some digging over at The Truth Laid Bear.

If you take a look at the Blogdom of God over at TTLB, you’ll notice rankings listing the real movers and shakers in Godblogdom. You can also mosey over to check out the Ecosystem rankings. The two go together in that the higher ranked Christian blogs in the Ecosystem populate the tops of the Blogdom of God, too. As it should be.

Yet all is not what it appears to be, for if you starting looking behind those top Blogdom of God blogs, you begin to see a lot of unfamiliar blog names. Now I’m not going to name any of those blogs here, but if you’ve been blogging long enough, you get an idea of which blogs are the ones most people read. The same blog names keep cropping up as references in other blogs. (There’s a reason for this, which I’ll explain later.)

I decided to do a little detective work on those unfamiliar blogs at the upper echelons of the Blogdom of God and found a curious trend. Randomly picking out a bunch I’d never seen referenced anywhere else, I checked to see if they had any stat counters on their sites. Most of them did, because most people like to know how popular their blog is. What I found surprised me.

Many of those unfamiliar blogs proved unfamiliar because their stats showed hardly anyone read them. One of those top-ranked blogs got an average of just 29 hits a day. Several of them were under 100. But if that’s the case, how’d they get to be Large Mammals or Playful Primates in the Ecosystem, or wind up so high in the Blogdom of God rankings?

Answer: They had a gazillion outsider group blogrolls in their sidebars.

The TTLB Ecosystem loves blogs that contain a bevy of blogrolls. So do Technorati and the rest. This explains the sudden surge in people asking you and me to join their group blogrolls. Those folks load up their sidebars with group blogrolls like “Association of Reformed Bloggers,” “League of Christian Women Bloggers,” “Bloggers Against Arminian Bloggers,” “Bloggers Fighting Mad About This U2 Liturgy Thingie,” “The Cabal of Bloggers Who Think We Should Kill ‘Em All and Let God Sort ‘Em Out,” and “The Holy Exalted Host of Bloggers So Exclusively Reformed As to Deny Calvin a Chair in Our Club.” (Every once in a while you get a “Hey, Pentecostals Blog Too, So Can We Have Blogroll?” blogroll, but that one only has a dozen blogs on it, so technically it doesn’t count in this discussion.)


Some folks think this proliferation of hosted third-party blogrolls will push the Christian blogs displaying them up the charts of those ranking sites. They consider this the chance for us Christian bloggers to show the rest of the world that we’re a force to be reckoned with. Onward Christian Bloggers and all.

But loading up our sidebars with group blogrolls to artificially pump up our blog site rankings is precisely the wrong way to get the world to sit up and take notice.

I have one sidebar on this site, and two blogrolls, my own personal roll and Joe Carter’s. Joe’s been out there for a while, and his The Evangelical Outpost tops the charts because of hard work. Joe put up his group blogroll, The Church Directory, in an effort to let other Christian bloggers out there find other Christian blogs. I link to that blogroll because that’s how I saw it, too. For being one of the first to feature a diverse set of Christian blogs that crossed denominational lines, Joe’s blogroll made it into my sidebar.

Today, however, blogrolls proliferate at a rate unheard of when Joe created The Church Directory. And considering that most of these new group blogrolls feature the same blogs ad nauseum, the point gets lost. I don’t even look at these third-party group blogrolls anymore because I don’t have the time to scroll through a thousand blogs. Nor do I have the time to scroll through the sidebar at a Christian blog that loads up with twenty group blogrolls of mostly duplicated blog titles. While the Ecosystem loves to rank a blog with a trillion outgoing links near the top of its rankings, I’ve got to believe a better means exists for us Christians to make a stand for Christ in the blogosphere.

How about writing great content? Don’t posts that get us thinking make all the difference? If we Christian bloggers merely add noise to the signal, we’ll be ignored. Better that we write the kind of profound words that will have others linking to us rather than us linking somewhere else in an effort to look more important than we are. Honestly, why should we care that we’re in the top 5,000 blogs at Technorati if we got there only on a sidebar jammed with external links? If no one reads us, isn’t that counterproductive to the plan some of these bloggers have to use blogroll bloat to show how important Christianity is in the blogosphere?

We know the Bible. We know what happens to people who make themselves out to be bigger than they are. They get exposed. Then shamed.

When a blogger puts a dozen off-site-hosted group blogrolls in his sidebars, I ignore those rolls. Let’s be honest here. If someone offered you a thousand links that came from outside the blog you were visiting, what’s your chance of picking one name out of that list and finding something worth reading? Who has the time for that kind of random excursion through the blogosphere?

Those of you who have Cerulean Sanctum on one of your personal blogrolls (as opposed to these group blogrolls I’ve been discussing), I wish to thank you. People do take those small, personal blogrolls to heart. On some of the smaller blogs with limited numbers of blogs listed in their personal rolls, they do result in people coming over. I get links from other blogs that way.

Even then, I get far more traffic from people googling. They’re googling content. They’re looking for something in particular. Yes, some want the images, but even then, many drop me a line and later stay on as readers. For those looking for the written word, what ends up in text on Cerulean Sanctum matters. Some folks need help and they’re desperate to find it. If you’re a Christian blogger, fill your blog with meaningful words that will minister to others. Don’t fill it with someone else’s blogrolls.

Truth: If you’re a Christian blogger, prove Jesus Christ lives and breathes in you by offering Spirit-filled posts that build up others and point people to Him. Don’t waste your time playing a game of pumping up your blog ranking with a bunch of outsider blogrolls so you appear important. Be important by saying something important. If you do, folks who need to hear what you’re saying will find you.

Just something to think about.

63 thoughts on “How to Be a Godblogger Who Matters…

    • No, thank you, Travis! You’ve been one of the most dedicated readers of this blog. Plus, you’ve personally helped me out on some things at least a half-dozen times.


  1. Good post, Dan. I’ve been thinking a lot of the same thoughts. It seems to me that the people who tend to rise in the God-blogosphere are the ones who spend their time writing good content rather than trying to jump through every hoop and take advantage of every trend.

    As for the Blogdom of God, that silly thing hasn’t been updated in a couple of years now and is totally, absolutely useless. And I think it’s better that way. Just worry about content and let things settle as they may.

    • Tim,

      Which one is writing this, the real Tim or one of the clones?


      “Content is king,” as they say in the publishing world. You’ve done a great job with superior content (and design). It’s hard to write compelling content every day, though. I know I don’t hit the mark some days.

      As for the Blogdom of God, it still reflects the Ecosystem rankings, so it does show that it’s ranking things highly based on the number of outgoing links on a blog. That’s true of Technorati and most of the others. That’s a lousy way to figure things, though.

      You’re right, though, in that I hadn’t checked the BoG in a long, long time. I do see some new blogs there, but I agree that it needs an overhaul. I’d forgotten that Adrian managed the whole thing.

  2. Beyond Words

    This post promoted you from a mere bookmark to a link on my humble blogroll. I read blogs for their content and consistency. I love your tone, balance and the truth your share.

    And the quality of your writing.


    • Thank you, BW!

      I wish the quality of writing proved more even. I wrote this post a little later at night, and this morning I re-read it and found about a dozen spelling and grammar errors. And me, supposedly a freelance writer by profession…

    • Ken,

      Personal blogrolls are fine. It’s the group blogrolls compiled simply to fool ranking sites that bother me. Something unseemly in that.

      And thanks for having Cerulean Sanctum listed in your roll!

  3. I’ve been wondering how the popularity contest works! Thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I hadn’t noticed before today. After scrolling through it I wondered how anyone could ever have the time to read it all. And I marvel at the amount of time and effort that goes into writing it all!

    • David,

      Ranking sites base their rankings off of several variables. Incoming links (I like that better) and outgoing links (boo!), plus some other arcane ones I don’t always follow.

      Nearly every link in my personal blogroll got there because of good content. I actually read those blogs through Bloglines. Now I admit I’m falling behind and skim through them from time to time, but they didn’t get in my blogroll for no reason. And I apologize in advance to those who belong there and I’ve not been able to follow their blog dutifully enough to consider them for inclusion. I’m sure plenty of great blogs exist that should be included there, but I just can’t track them all.

      Plus, some great ones exists that I don’t include simply because they write about topics that don’t intersect with the point of Cerulean Sanctum. I enjoy reading Lifehacker, but it’s not on the roll because it’s not about what I’m about.

      I do include a few writer links because I’m a writer. I think all those links go to Christians who write, so it’s at least tangential to the point of this blog.

  4. Peter Smythe

    Dan, thanks for the post. I just deleted the one blogroll I had included on my site because it had added way too many blogs far off the mark.

    I appreciate your essays. Your blog is one of the few that I’ve bookmarked and look at daily.

  5. You are the second “big” blogger who has complained because little bloggers like us are in with the big bloggers and we don’t deserve to be there. At least I can be thankful that you didn’t call us out by name like they did 🙂

    I’m sorry that it bothers you that we are up there. We didn’t intend to be #4 in the Blogdom of God, I just wanted to become a Playful Primate because I thought it would be fun. Mostly I just wanted to improve our google ranking. Reformed Chicks is a blog I started with some friends to share with others what I found on the internet. It’s a current events blog but from a Reformed Christian perspective (Kuyper type of way of looking at politics). I blog about the persecuted church, politics, the war, Islam, nutty things Christians say, Calvinism, etc. I’m just having fun with it. Didn’t mean to step on any toes.

    I’m sure that you might have noticed my other blog at a mere twenty something hits a day. But what you probably don’t know about that blog is that I have digests that I wrote for seminary on it and that I have a Samson Bible study on it that I get hits for every single day (actually it makes up half me hits for the day). I even got an email from someone who is writing a novel about Samson and used my study to do some research. I’m thankful to the Lord that he uses that study to bless others and I wouldn’t give that up no matter how much you don’t think I deserve to have that Google rank. I plan to put more studies up this summer (probably some of the stuff I’ve been learning at seminary and a Revelation and Genesis study) and am thankful that I have the rank I do so that others will be able to find them. I don’t make any apologies for that.

    BTW, if other Christians are persuaded to drop their blogrolls from their blogs, please email the blogroll owner and let them know. It’s really rude not to do that and as we know, love is not rude 🙂

    • Michele,

      Thanks for writing.

      Not trying to bust anyone here. I just found the disconnect odd.

      Nor am I against blogrolls. I’m not against people improving their ranking. I’ve just wondered in past days if we’re improving it the right way.

      Yes, I did originally sign up on your blogroll, then had second thoughts. That’s one of the things that prompted this post. If you’d like to remove my name, please do.

      And no, I’m not a big name blogger. When you tally all my hits in a day, it’s less than 450 unique visitors usually–more like 325 on average. My feed seems to be skyrocketing, though I’m not exactly sure why. It jumped from around 220 to 550 in just a month.

      And you’re right, it’s the private e-mails from readers that make all the difference. I’ve nearly closed this blog down a half dozen times, and every time I had the plug in my hand ready to yank, I got an out-of-the-blue e-mail from a reader that touched my heart.

  6. The Adrian Blogdom of God was scrapped form at least one source, which caused consternation. People that chose not to be part of it felt the concept (the trickle down theory of linking and promoting) wouldn’t work. That approved to be true. It’s not unlike Pajamas Media, circular linking of insiders. Only they are paid to.

    Adrian’s effor is not managable, never was. In the times I’ve gone through it and posted on the dead links, duplicate links, spam links, circular linking nothing has changed.

    Adrian set it up as competition to Blogs4God – he can refute or deny that. He was sincere, the guy is a psychiatrist from a drug company:numbers, lists, growth and ducks in a roll thrill him as much as his theology.

    He has mentioned his is doing an overhaul of his blog, hopefully the Blogdom of God, it’s ‘stars’ and problems will be history.

    Advertising seriously bugs me – I have such respect for faith bloggers that just say no.
    Being on an ISP .ca I am now getting ads off US religious blogs for sex assignment fertility clinics. The blogger doesn’t see them. So much for ethics, it’s about money. Little to no blogger control.

    71 million blogs – according to Pew Research 2 percent are religious. So yeah, in a religious business model, numbers count, even as can be clearly demonsrated the links are circular. How many inks are outside the US which celebrates capitalism over content and relationship? Slim to none.

    • BD,

      Google ads show up in the weirdest places highlighting the weirdest links. One Christian site had Google ads featuring psychics. Don’t wish to go there on this site. Don’t want to be beholden to anyone, either.

      I struggle, though. Things aren’t great economically in Ohio, and we’ve been under a lot of pressure. I’ve thought for a long time about a tip jar, but I fear that will drive people away and make them think I’m in this for the money. That never was the motivation, but blogging takes time and costs me something that’s increasingly hard for me to meet. Seems everyone wants their pound of flesh and I only have so much to go around.

  7. brian

    I have been statcounter free for over a month and am content. I check stats more than I checked my blog. It was a second addiction. Now I do it for me, and those who comment regularly, but still mainly for me.

    good thoughts, keep up the good blogging.

  8. Not a big fan of promoting much of anything on my blog, aside from current music selections, and have only a few links to outside sites. I do look at my “site production” daily, but it isn’t the reason I continue the blog. I started it without letting anyone know, for personal reasons, like a journal. After a short time I realized that people might possibly benefit from it and let a few know.

    I have often wondered about the Technorati stuff I’ve seen in my stats, thanks for the insight.

    BTW, I’m one of those less than 100 per day, and I’m proud of that!

    Thanks Brother!

  9. Matt Self

    My plea is for people to stop writing like every entry is a column for Christianity Today or some important media outlet. There are many problems with this, primarily a lot of the bloggers who do this couldn’t get their stuff published in CT to begin with.

    Blogs are so impersonal these days. There’s no first-person narrative. Nothing to draw me in or tell me who’s behind the blog. You don’t have to be Mark Twain to be interesting. I am more likely to trust a novice writer who exposes themselves in some meaningful way than I am to trust a semi-pro writer who exposes nothing about themselves and writes with authority they don’t really have. There’s only one Phil Johnson, for example, and let me add Phil Johnson has done some excellent personal exposes in addition to his skillfully crafted argumentation. People who imitate him usually do so in failure to understand Phil Johnson is, first and foremost, a professional writer and editor. His popularity is not just about what he believes, but in the way he presents his beliefs.

    Perhaps it’s fitting I draw this conclusion on this blog, but the lack of any kind of emotional transparency in the God Blogdom is indicative of what’s going on in American church’s. There’s a lot of fronting going on. A lot of posturing. But not a lot of real fellowship — and I’m not talking about small talk over green bean casserole. It’s frustrating, but this perspective also makes it easier to understand why people have a difficult time connecting at church.

    Hey, maybe instead of ginormous blog rolls, we need small groups! 😉

    • You don’t have to read what people put on their blogs. Likewise, you don’t have to post comments either. I’d rather try to get to know someone face to face (and learn the transparency of them) than try to garner that insight through a weblog. I didn’t know that we were supposed be exposed through blogs. Interesting.

      Small groups do make a difference. Person to person fellowship does make a difference. One can hardly find a real friendship via the internet (despite what eHarmony and others might lead you to believe). Connect with people, not websites.

      • I met my wife through a message board. True story.

        Now of course we eventually met in person (and continue to enjoy time spent face-to-face in its varied forms), but I can honestly say we found a real friendship via the internet.

      • Matt Self

        I first got to know my wife through e-mail. It was an incredible process to fall in love with someone without the benefit of knowing what they look like, sound like, smell like … all the physical senses that tend to blind us to what we need and want from relationships. Many other of my best friendships first started on the Internet by sharing an interest not commonly held in the groups in which I run.

        The Internet presents many challenges to Christians, but it has the singular power to reduce our biases and stereotypes to actually get to know people. Having witnessed Christ’s divine appointment with people over the Internet (and then meeting them in person to see the transformation), I can bear witness to the fact that Holy Spirit does not see the same limits of fiber-optic wires as we do.

      • Matt Self

        Also, so people don’t confuse, my criticism was not aimed at Dan in anyway. I consider him an e-friend, in fact, because he once engaged my blog in a relevant and personal way! CS is one of the few regular blogs I visit because Dan has proven to write with authority, first because he does not write from a pedestal. There is an OT prophet to him. One of our blogging acquaintances once indirectly referred to Dan as a modern-day John the Baptist-type blogger, and that description has always suited my high opinion of him! 😉

    • Matt,

      I’ve always ever been Dan Edelen. I never try to write like anyone else. I like to think that my posts have a good mix of passion and intelligence without going too far into either realm. My purpose for this blog is to find balance between a modern and an ancient Church without losing the necessities. This makes what I write heavy and intense, but it’s the core of Cerulean Sanctum. Yes, I do veer off-topic, but usually only into one or two side issues. Trust me, I can write lighthearted as well as anyone, but the kinds of topics I address don’t always play well with a pollyanna-ish tone.

      People have written me in private telling me my posts are too long, but I don’t know how to rectify that. Good editing could pare stuff down, but if I put another unpaid minute into this blog I may have no life and no income left to speak of. Most posts get minimal editing as a result. The length is what it is.

      Most of what I write comes from my own observations and struggles. In the early days, I used to get e-mail from people saying that I came across as a blowhard perfectionist. I don’t get those so much anymore. Perhaps people just kept reading!

      I think the Christian blogosphere has too many eggheads and too many people who always sound clinical. The one kind of Christian blogger I’ve not seen is the true wit. I can write snark and funny cynical, plus sarcasm, but I’ve not met a Christian blogger who espouses that Wodehouse-ian quality of bemusement. People who do flirt with the fringes of wit typically get blown off as spurious, and that’s a shame. I enjoy reading Letters from Kamp Krusty because Brant has that fringe sense of humor that’s almost the kind of wit I mean, though he’s more cynical and wacky than the true wit. I can’t think of another blog that comes that close.

      I’ve always enjoyed what you write. You never attempt to pin down a theme on your blogs, but you’ve got a hint of Dave Barry that keeps people interested. Your latest blog incarnation may be a bit heavy on the skins for the non-drummer, but it’s good to see you back. I can’t think of too many charismatic Christian drummers blogging, so it’s nice to know neither of us is alone.

      Blog on!

  10. Dee

    Sorry, Dan. I started nodding off about halfway through this one. Not your fault though; it is my lack of vocabulary of blog-speak. You usually lose me whenever you are discussing something technical.

    Truthfully, yours is the only blog I check into on a regular basis – and yours only because I know you personally and you usually have something interesting to say.

    Besides the 10-15 minutes a day I might spend surfing the net, where can I become more blog-literate (or would a better term be net-savvy)?

    • Dee,

      I have about a half-dozen commenters I know personally. I honestly wish I could meet everyone who stops by here.

      I attended a conference a couple years back and this woman came over, peered at my nametag, and said with a glow, “You’re Dan Edelen, I love reading you!” Since I was at a writing conference, it took me a few seconds to realize what she might be reading, since none of my business writing gets my name on it. When she saw I was puzzled, she let me know she was a fan of Cerulean Sanctum. Very positive, energetic lady who seemed genuinely delighted to meet me. I thought to myself afterward, “So this is fandom! I had no idea.”

      Blog literate: I think I’ve got a good blogroll of folks who represent a wide range of Christianity and who write well. You could start there. I don’t think anyone is writing a better blog than Mark Lauterbach at GospelDrivenLife. In fact, days come around when I think I should just stop blogging and do a redirect to Mark’s blog. Michael Spencer, the iMonk, writes a bit like me. He also blogs at The Boars Head Tavern, a mobblog that covers sprawling topics that always appear interesting. Tim Challies ( and Joe Carter (The Evangelical Outpost) are two of the heaviest-hitters in Godblogdom and their sites cover a wide range of topics. I’m enjoying reading Julie Neidlinger’s Lone Prairie Blog right now—kind of all over the map on topics, but exceptionally well written and engaging. Peter Smythe at The Real Faith writes a peerless Pentecostal/charismatic blog that has a strong theology focus that would appeal to you. Always very challenging. Lastly, Milton Stanley at Transforming Sermons collects the best of the best spiritual nuggets from blogs all around the Web. More than once, I’ve come to add a new blog to my feed because Milton pointed me in the direction of someone writing good stuff.

      Those are a good start and represent a wide variety of Christian bloggers. But like I said, most of the links in blogroll are thought-provoking bloggers. Hope this helps.

      • Dee

        I appreciate your suggestions of other bloggers to read; I will check out some of them. However, what I was really asking was for a resource that would help me learn the terminology of bloggers. Instead, your response included more technical terms like “blogroll, blog, blogging, mobblog, and feed”. (Didn’t one of our CHS teachers instruct us never to use the word or it’s root in it’s definition?)

        I even note some tools on your site of which I am ignorant. For example, I see a button titled “Posts” that when my cursor floats over it a text box pops up that says “subscribe to post feed”. What exactly does that mean? Will I put my computer in danger if I haphazardly start clicking on all those pretty little buttons on various web sites?

        I realize you don’t have the time (and probably not the inclination) to tutor me in things technical. And I do not consider myself to be computer illiterate. However, if you could direct me to a resource that will help… Otherwise, I will just have to learn as I go and hope I am not making any incorrect assumptions. And, hopefully, I will not doze off in the middle of your next technology-related post. (O;

        • Dee,

          I may explain some blog terms in a future post.

          In short:

          Blog – Short for “Web log” and meaning a sort of personal journal on the Web. Blogs have evolved into all kinds of written expression, but what typifies them is consistently updated entries. Blogging software makes it possible to easily update a Web site’s content. In many ways, ease of changing that content is what defines blogging. Before blogging software came around, people had to hand code HTML (the guts behind the visual presentation of a Web site) if they wanted new content. Blogging software made it possible to change content simply through a variety of inputs methods. I could be sitting on a bus and actually write a post on a cellphone and have it post to Cerulean Sanctum. That makes it possible to post to your blog in near real time.

          Blogging – Writing or reading a blog.

          Blogroll – A list of links to other blogs or sites of interest. (Kingdom Links and Wordsmith Links on my blog.)

          Group blog – A blog written by more than one person.

          Mobblog – A group blog “on steroids.” Seems a lot like the comment section of a regular blog, as many people contribute to the blog content, the result being a sort of freeform running commentary.

          Feed – A means of sending out the content of a blog to distributors. A form of syndication akin to what newspapers have in AP, UPI, and Reuters news services. Someone using a feed reader can collect all their favorite blogs and read them in one place through “feed aggregator” software. Bloglines, Google Reader, and Newsgator are three common feed agreggators that allow users to read all the blogs to which they’ve subscribed. Makes it easier to read blogs rather than having to bookmark them all and surf from site to site. (I use Bloglines and can track and skim through a a hundred blogs I enjoy reading in far less time than it would take to hop from blog site to blog site.)

          Hope that helps.

  11. Hey, Dan, I really appreciate you for coming over and commenting on my humble blog when I link to one of your posts. Not many do that (you’re 1 of only 3 who do for me) and it helps us little guys feel appreciated, too. Something Christian about that…

    As for huge blogrolls, I find them even more insincere than advertising, for the reasons you state. What’s that scripture about those who love to pray in public, just so they can be seen?

    I only had 3 or 4 (including yours) for the longest time, just because its so hard to find blogs that I don’t worry about sending people to. Lately, I’ve been interested in the topic of variety in Christianity, so I’ve added a few more, including a few that I consider a little weird (and have those insincere monstrous blogrolls) just to remind me and my reader that there are other viewpoints out there (and to keep me humble.)

    Don’t even think about scrapping this blog!



    • SirChuck,

      A decision I made very early on in the history of writing Cerulean Sanctum was to thank people who linked to individual posts I put up here. I firmly believe that we Americans aren’t grateful enough for what we have, so I do my best to track down bloggers who post links back to a post I put up.

      I use about four different methods for finding those links, but each only covers about 20% of the links. So some get missed. If the tech were perfect, I’d know every reference out there and could ensure I miss no one. As it is, I know I miss people. Sorry.

      Still, doing this is important to me and to those bloggers starting out who may not have a lot of traffic or commenters. I wish to be both grateful and an encourager. It takes a lot of time to get all those thank yous out there, but I know it blesses people so I’m committed to it.

      Have a great weekend.

  12. Interesting. maybe it’s because i’m not an American that this whole culture of self-promotion passes me by — in the Australia of my youth it was considered bad form to put yourself forward.That could be changing for a younger generation .. Certainly I enjoy it when people read my blog, but primarily it’s my personal creative outlet — I don’t mix it with the big boys and I know that’s not my league. I bet there are a lot out there like me, who write christian blogs of one flavour or another because they love writing, who don’t keep stats (some of us haven’t learned how to — it hasn’t seemed important enough to be worth the energy) and many of us don’t even keep a blogroll, we just bookmark our favourites and read them regularly. But I am glad there are big bloggers out there who are not invisible, otherwise how would the rest of us find them and learn from them?

    • Blestpickle,

      It’s always good to have a goal to shoot for. Increasing your readership means your voice gets heard in more places. I think outstanding content will drive that more than anything.

      No, it’s not about numbers, but it is good to find legit ways to allow others to find your blog. I may be down on group blogrolls, but bettering your feed and linking within posts to other good sites with content works. If you riff on the post a “big” blogger wrote and then put a trackback to it, people will find your blog. Likewise, if you’ve written something along the lines of what a “big” blogger wrote, commenting on that big blog with a link to your post is fine, so long as you don’t overuse that tactic.

      Hope that helps!

  13. Thanks for writing this article. This is something that needed to be exposed and brought out to the forefront. It got worse during the last presidential election where it seemed the ‘theopolitical’ blogs (defined as a blog where the sovereignty of God depended on how we voted n the second Tuesday in November) got top billing.

    I too get more of my traffic from search engines and also I get more ‘private’ comments via the e-mail contact form than the comments themselvesbecause so many people who read share a common thread or a common story and that they want to talk in private and not have their conversations in public just yet.

    The numbers do not alter me or alter what I write. I just want people to get blessed or feel that there is also someone else that feels like they do.

    • TtT,

      Yep. Everything you said is dead on. I don’t envy the political blogs. In the beginning they overlapped with the blogs talking more about spiritual matters, but now they’ve separated out and rarely do they overlap. I find politic boring anymore. I don’t find the Church boring.

  14. Ed, I read your post and was a little disturbed at what you had to say about the award badge. I personally sent you the Seed Planting Blog Award for 2007 because I read your blog and I thought your blog was a great one for the award, since you have been so diligent in getting out the Word.

    I am one of those little bloggers that might be out there among the ‘big blogs’ and you feel I shouldn’t be. The blogrolls on my site were put there for recognition, not to get a higher number anywhere. And they do bring in visitors that might not otherwise find my ‘little blog.’

    I believe every blog that is on the Web that blogs for Jesus should be a ‘worthy’ blog. And none should be frowned upon simply because they display blogrolls. I would suggest, if you don’t like outside ‘help’ in getting the numbers, that you remove TECHNORATI and TTLB from your blog. . That’s only fair in light of how you feel about outside means of getting recognition. And, those two surely do that for a blog.

    I blog for the persecuted church, blog politics, blog for the children, and on things that just interest me. Lately, it’s been on making the Internet safe for our children/grandchildren. I may not appeal to you and your followers, but I do have people that keep returning. I believe God honors those that honor Him.

    I have a personal Christian domain website which gets 2 to 4 thousand hits a day (I checked and have 1,727 for today so far) and 10 to 20 thousand a day at Christmas. I know why they come, and keep coming – they come for the Word and the content on that website. And, I believe it will one day be the same with the blog.

    I hope you continue to have success with your blog. May God bless you for what you are doing in His service. But, do be kind to those of us who have chosen to take another path other than you for recognition. I didn’t know any bloggers other than my son when I started my blog, but it has connected me with many wonderful Christians who are here to share tidbits of themselves with us.

    • Barb,

      The problem with third-party-hosted group blogrolls is that they tend not to help anyone anymore:

      1. They’re too big. A group blogroll with three hundred blog titles on it means nothing. Any click you make on it is almost entirely random. It’s the worst possible way to surf for worthy blogs.

      2. People who host multiple group blogrolls rarely, if ever, truly use those blogrolls to find new blogs. They use them to pump up their outside link totals in ranking sites. That helps the blogger who loads up on group blogrolls, but not anyone else since the signal to noise ratio becomes almost infinitesimal.

      3. A reader who comes to a blog loaded with group blogrolls can’t receive guidance from the blog site owner to know if anything in those blogrolls is worthy. That wastes the reader’s time.

      A personal blogroll handpicked by the blog owner DOES mean something because that blogroll SHOULD reflect the time and care the blog owner has taken to compile the list AND vouch for the quality of the links. Group blogrolls, though, are all Me Too! and that only adds to the noise. In the case of Christian blogging, it dilutes the quality of the message, the antithesis of what many are hoping to accomplish with the blogroll!

      I support Joe Carter’s The Church Directory because it was one of the very first group blogrolls back before Technorati and other ranking sites made groups blogrolls de rigeur. Joe’s purpose was to enhance the Godblogosphere. That’s why I have it on my sidebar. It’s the only group blogroll I have and I’ve had it for years. I used to have the entire thing listed, but it got too long. Joe kindly offers truncated listings that cycle. I show his 40-title list. Obviously, I’m not trying to drive up my blog ranking through displaying group blogrolls.

      Award badges were also nice in the early days, but a proliferation of them lately has diminished the honor. Too many people today offer them in an attempt to drive traffic to their site, not the purpose of them in the early days. Again, things have changed. Forgive me for being wary. If I don’t know the blogger hosting or offering the award, how can I be sure what my name is being attached to? Or whether or not that badge/award goes back to some spamming or splogging scheme?

      I must have gotten six badges and a dozen group blogroll requests in just the last two weeks. That’s what prompted this post. The more I sat back and thought about it, the more it bothered me. Why? Because it’s become a way to game the system (as is evidenced by what my test showed).

      The mark of good blog comes from people linking directly to your post content, not through loading up on group blogrolls. Like I said, loading up on group blogrolls sure seems like gaming the system. Everyone who games the system actually ruins it for other bloggers who don’t manipulate rankings through the methods I discussed. If the top Godblogs by rank aren’t being referenced elsewhere, then the best content isn’t getting recognition. That spoils what can be a good tool for discipling and reaching others. If I look at the top Godblogs by rank and no one’s actually reading them, then they’re misrepresenting themselves through gaming the system. Meanwhile, the Godblogs that ARE being read because they have good content get pushed out of the reach of people looking for the top ranked blogs. People still equate ranking with quality, but if the system’s being manipulated, then everyone loses.

  15. I would also add that you might want to take off the Church Directory blogroll because it undermines your message and makes you appear a hypocrite.

    I’m also interested in how you would view those like Adrian Warnock and Jollyblogger, are they leading bloggers astray with their blogrolls? Aren’t they raising up bloggers above their station in the blogoshere? Should a good Christian bloggers remove themselves from their blogrolls?

    For me the most ironic part of your post is that I originally found your blog because someone came to my blog through the Church Directory blogroll. It’s funny how out of the millions of blogs on the Internet, I found yours through a blogroll and a stat counter.

    • Michele,

      All Godblogs have some worth. Are some more worthy of others? I think it comes down to consistency. Any Godblogger can knock one out of the park once in a while. The truly good ones do it consistently.

      I’d recommend the blogs I listed in my comment to Dee above. Those are good starts. They vary wildly in style and topics, but they’re all good ones.

      I think what makes a Godblog worthy can be summed up in ten traits:

      1. Addresses challenging topics.
      2. Gets people to think…then act.
      3. Fearless when dealing with sacred cows.
      4. Humble.
      5. Humble (did I say that already?)
      6. Treats commenters with graceful tact.
      7. Shares the love.
      8. Shows some facility with writing and the English language.
      9. Serves other bloggers.
      10. Lifts up Christ relentlessly.

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  17. Dan, I’m curious now to hear your thoughts on blog carnivals (for those readers who aren’t familiar with the term, Wikipedia has a decent article on the topic). Do you think they can do a better job of pointing your readers to other good blogs?

    • Travis,

      Carnivals used to be great. That’s a much better way of highlighting a blog, especially a new one!

      I say “used to” because the sheer number of blogs has led to monstrously big carnivals with 100+ posts in them. Even THAT’S hard to wander through.

      I never saw more than a half dozen folks come over from a carnival listing. A half dozen is a half dozen, but still. The fleeting nature of a carnival also means that for about two days tops you’ll see link activity off the carnival. Meanwhile, this post continues to generate hits five days after I posted it. Google doesn’t appear to rate carnivals very highly, either. Don’t ask me why. I’ve posted to carnivals from time to time and no search on Google has ever called up one of my carnival listings—ever.

      The best way to boost your blog is to write good content that gets noticed. I get new readers whenever a large blog like Challies, The Evangelical Outpost, or The Boars Head Tavern links to one of my posts. The BHT, I think, has resulted in more traffic to my site than just about any other blog. They’ve been a big boost.

      Having a small, tight personal blogroll helps, too. I saw the other day that a smaller blog had a limited blogroll of about five blogs, but Cerulean Sanctum was one of those. I’ve been watching link traffic more closely since the MySpace hotlinking debacle that I missed for months. I’ve noticed traffic to Cerulean Sanctum from many small blogs with limited blogrolls. They may only have a few readers, but those readers read and click on everything. So yes, even small blogs can drive traffic.

      And curiously enough, those small blogs with limited blogrolls actually prove the point. Their sidebars aren’t loaded full of group blogrolls that get ignored. Instead, their small, personal blogrolls actually result in clickthroughs. I notice those links. I follow them back to their source. If I find the content of that small blog interesting, I add it to my RSS feed and watch it for a while. If it continues to have great content, I add it to my own personal blogroll. Same goes for when someone links to one of my posts. I thank people for doing that and that gets me to their blog. I read their content as follow the same procedure. About a dozen links in my sidebar got there by that means.

      Lastly, I think building connections with other bloggers helps. You start communicating with each other outside of your blogs. You start highlighting each other’s posts. That drives your specific readership to the other blog and you pick up links and readers from their blog that way.

      Also, I’ve been aggressive with my feed-tweaking this year and my feed readership is up 50 percent since January! Since I don’t advertise, it’s fine by me if people don’t come to the blog (though they may miss out on my links, a problem with feeds that runs counter to some of the advice here.)

  18. There’s another factor at TTLB, which may affect other blogs than just mine. My RSS feed visits–90% of visits, as recorded on my server’s stats–have never been counted in the TTLB/SiteMeter system, for reasons I’m trying again, for the third time, to track down.

    Previous attempts didn’t work, and I didn’t really try very hard anyway. I’ve let it go for a couple of years that way, because TTLB isn’t that big a deal. It hasn’t bothered me a lot until this past week, when my number of incoming links for some reason jumped way over the number of daily visits as recorded by TTLB; and now, especially with your comments above, it looked really odd and out of whack.

    I wonder if something like that is true for other bloggers.

    • Tom, I think it’s happened to all of us. It sure has me! And, now I notice that the incoming links are now down to Zero. And, we’ve been moved back in the TTLB, also. I’ve noticed over the past month or so that different things were going on, like no links to our posts, although that has been restored. Maybe something has gone wrong over at TTLB.

      Maybe it will all work itself out soon.

    • Tom,

      TTLB isn’t very reliable. NZ Bear updated everything last year and for a while it looked like a tremendous update.

      But my average daily visit total has been the same exact number since that update. When I put in a trouble ticket about that, I got no response. Tried again–nothing. My traffic’s way higher than that stuck number and has been for a long time.

      As for the inbound links score, it’s all over the place and I know that not to be the case.

      Even now at the TTLB ecosystem, I’m listed as an Insignificant Microbe though my inbound links score has zoomed off the scale. Since I cache my TTLB results, you’ll notice Cerulean Sanctum listed as a Marauding Marsupial in my sidebar. No idea what’s going on with the TTLB today.

      So the Ecosystem’s not all that reliable in the way it works. Plus people are gaming it by loading up with group blogrolls.

      In defense of NZ Bear, he’s offering a free service. I’m sure he never expected the Ecosystem to be so wildly popular. He gets almost nothing from any of us for providing this service. If the Ecosystem falls into disrepair, it’s no surprise why. I couldn’t maintain it!

  19. You have given a list of things by which you would deem a blog worthy but my list might be different as would probably be different. How would we then determine which blogs were “worthy” of being in the top of the Godblog heap? Whose criteria would we use?

    Maybe we need an objective criteria. Well, we could use whoever got the most traffic (which is what you implied in your article), good blogs would have many readers. But you and I both know that google drives up our stats — some of those people might look at our blogs and not like them. They are artificially driving the numbers up. We aren’t getting a good reading of how good the blog really is. I think an objective criteria would be hard.

    And your response raises the question: what if a “small” blogger did what you suggested consistently, would you have a problem with them being in the top of the Godblog heap (even though they got their using blogrolls)?

    Also, what do you mean by lifts up Christ relentlessly?

    • Michele,

      As far as worthiness goes, you asked what I thought made a blog worthy, but I did not understand that you meant me to give some universal worthiness criteria. I gave the criteria I find most compelling.

      If you want a universal, I go back to my original: peerless content.

      When people elect to put a blog in their personal blogroll, that’s a good criteria. Someone ELSE is making that decision to include your blog or mine in THEIR blogroll. This differs from joining a group blogroll.

      Inbound links would be a superior way to rank a blog because it most closely resembles a vote for content. But if people game the system with all these group blogrolls, then this measurement proves worthless. That’s another way the group blogrolls hurt objective means of measuring rank.

      In the end, rank itself doesn’t mean anyone’s truly worthy or not. Still, many people use Web site rankings as a way of finding the best of the best. If only a few people read Cerulean Sanctum and get blessed by it, that’s all I need to know. But if people manipulate access to other blogs by gaming ranking systems, then people who don’t play that game do suffer. I don’t see that as right.

  20. Dan,

    Sorry; I somehow missed this post and I’m late in adding a comment. I do appreciate you and especially the times you have graced my blog. There is something Christ-honoring in that; whenever I link a post you always drop by. I know I am one of the (very) little guys, but that has never deterred you from interacting with me, even though limited due to vast time constraints. I have appreciated that.

    I often find myself when I’m writing, asking myself, “How would Dan articulate this?” Thanks for being an inspiration and an encouragement.

    You are indeed a Godblogger who matters.

  21. Dan, just discovered this post in my feed reader and am slightly dismayed. I am on one hand grateful that you didn’t mention my PneumaBlogs aggregator and listing in your post, but I have to wonder if you’d rather I take you off? On the other hand, you still host the PneumaBlogger badge in your sidebar, so I assume you might be okay with it.

    When I first started blogging only two years ago I wondered who my fellow Pentecostal and Charismatic bloggers were. At the time, there were no P/C blogrolls or OPML files, so I started linking to them in my blog’s link list. Then I thought, why not offer my list to the world? And I fiddled around until I created a page with the evolving list of pretty-much hand-picked bloggers. I’ve tried to cull the uninteresting bloggers, but a few are still on there. I don’t always have the heart to remove somebody once listed unless they’re inactive or clearly just cat-blogging.

    Now the PneumaBlogs page has grown to include not only an aggregator, but an OPML file, an RSS feed of the latest additions, and a Google search tool.

    My intent in creating this is now to provide a service. I’ve seen that others, like Amy Wellborn at GentleWhisper has gotten at least a few readers from discovery via my PneumaBlogs page. I’d like to think you might have gotten a couple readers, too, but it’s hard to tell.

    Currently my list is at about 140 bloggers. I’ve got a few more in my inbox for consideration. The list could quickly grow unwieldy, but I’m still committed to maintaining it, and managing the information.

    I’ve never required any of “my” bloggers to host a blogroll. If they wanted to do so, it’d be fairly easy to figure out how to do it. I’ve also never required anybody to host a badge or button, but I provide one if they wish to host it. The only requirements for entrance are orthodox Pentecostal/Charismatic theology and practice, and a consistent non-cat-blogging approach to writing. And the blog must appeal to me.

    I suppose that makes PneumaBlogs different than other “blogrolls,” and so maybe that exempts me from your ire. I hope it does, anyhow. And I hope I’m one of the okay bloggers, too!



    • Rich,

      No, I wasn’t lumping in your Pneumablogger badge/list. Your list is an invite list for one, plus it fills a genuine hole in the Godblogosphere. I was referring more to the endless permutations of existing “me, too” blog lists and rolls. That doesn’t apply to you. Nor do I have a massive blogroll of Pneumablogger links in my sidebar (thatI probably wouldn’t do simply for space considerations—I still haven’t found a decent WordPress plugin that creates nice pull-down menus like my categories and archives pull-downs.)

      Sorry for the misunderstanding. Anything I have in my sidebars on Cerulean Sanctum gets my official approval!

      As for ire, there’s no real ire here. Just annoyance at folks who try to game the ranking systems by loading up their sidebars with dozens of third-party blogrolls. A few of those is fine, but when I hit a site and its literally got a dozen or more of those blogrolls, you know that the blogger is thinking he or she can jump to the top of the rankings heap by doing so, even if the blog hasn’t proven itself through content. I mean, if you’re in the top 100 Christian blogs (by gaming the system) but no one ever links to your content, isn’t that a bit fraudulent?

      Does that clarify things?

      Be blessed.

  22. Thanks for the follow-up and clarification Dan, I appreciate it, and I appreciate you. For most bloggers I wouldn’t give a fiddler’s fart (thank you Frank McCourt!) whethey they link to me or not in whatever fashion, but I view your inclusion of my PneumaBlogs badge an honor. The thought that I might have been guilty of what annoyed you troubled me.

    But no more!

    Thanks, again.


  23. Daniel

    Thanks! I needed to hear, er, read this. I’ve only been blogging for a few months–took some time off during the summer–and it’s easy to get caught up in the who’s-checking-my-blog cycle.

    I also appreciate your reminder that we need to build up rather than tear down. In hindsight, my last post seems like more of the former.

    Again, thanks for the post. Take care and God bless!

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