Bloggernacle Adrift?

February 10, 2013 | 25 comments
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For several years now, the Mormon Archipelago aggregator site (which used to be found here) has served as a relatively complete listing of LDS blogs and also provided real-time feeds listing recent posts. It has been something of an anchor for the Bloggernacle. It was handy to see new posts at larger blogs all in one place. MA also pushed traffic to a lot of smaller blogs that otherwise wouldn’t get too many visitors. But MA has been down for over a week now and it’s not clear if or when it will be back. What is to be done? As a short-term fix, I have put feeds of 20 LDS blogs in the sidebar at DMI giving the most recent five posts for each blog. For reference, I also set up a page listing all the blogs that were featured at the MA site.

Remember the rule: fast, cheap, good; choose two. My DMI fix is fast and cheap. If someone with superior skillz wants to shoot for something better, have at it. Anyone with helpful comments or links (such as to alternative LDS aggregators that might still be up and running) is free to post them. I will also add belated thanks to the coders who put in a lot of time over the years designing and maintaining the wonderful MA site. I could never quite figure out who ran the technical side of the operation, but the likely suspects are J (of BCC), Geoff (of New Cool Thang), Geoff’s brother (related to New Cool Thang), and Rusty (of Nine Moons). Thank you, gentlemen.

25 Responses to Bloggernacle Adrift?

  1. Brian on February 10, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Looks to me like MA is online.

  2. Tim on February 10, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    It was up early this (Sunday) morning. BCC sidebar reads “LDSBlogs.org is back online. If you can’t see it, clear your cache.”

  3. Dave on February 10, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Indeed it is (having cleared my Firefox cache) — which sort of changes the direction of the conversation here in the comments, doesn’t it?

  4. Kent Larsen on February 10, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    This kind of thing does make me a little nervous. I dislike the idea that the connection between blogs that MA represents might be so fragile.

    Of course, IIRC there are a couple of alternatives to MA — perhaps not as strong though, and one of them I find annoying and refuse to use because it actively excludes blogs that, in the high and mighty opinion of its owners, aren’t worthy.

    Blogs that display its banner drop a notch in my view when I see it.

  5. anonlds on February 10, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Wasn’t MA the one that got a lot of publicity for dumping stuff associated with Dehlin because they didn’t like the content?

  6. Andrew S on February 10, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Yeah, I had a chuckle at the idea that the Mormon Archipelago serves as a “relatively complete listing of LDS blogs”. As with all blog aggregators, there is always editorial decision making involved in choosing what blogs are included and what blogs aren’t. And there are definitely some blogs that the archipelago doesn’t include, and in particular, I can think of one competing aggregator that was created pretty much completely over such a disagreement.

    This is all pretty old stuff, though.

    I am glad to see that your own listing of blogs and feeds includes some blogs that even the Archipelago doesn’t include…

  7. Dave on February 10, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Kent, I had the same thoughts and concerns this last week. Anyway, glad the site’s back up.

    anonlds, any aggregator needs to decide what blogs to list or aggregate and which to not list. The MA crew decided to list only blogs that posted primarily on LDS topics (not that simply had an LDS author) and that operate from a generally faithful perspective. Bloggers who want aggregated posts from blogs that operate from a generally critical or negative perspective about the Church will have to find a different site or aggregator. Mormon Stories is sort of in no-mans land, covering both perspectives. There was some support for listing it at MA, although the final decision went against listing.

  8. Casey on February 10, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    As one of those small-site bloggers who depends on MA for most of my traffic (and as an aggregator for finding other interesting content) I appreciate it but wouldn’t mind a few other competing portals both for getting content out and having a space for finding lesser-known blogs. I mean, there’s Outer Blogness and Nothing Wavering, both of which cater to their own brands of Mormonism that I don’t necessarily want to be strongly associated with (and the feeling would probably be mutual) and mormonblogs.org, which seems to be more Dehlin-ish but I’m pretty sure is broken and not actively updated…besides that, there’s not a lot out there that I’m aware of.

  9. Orwell on February 10, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    It was up sooner than this morning — wasn’t it already running again Friday night, or at least sometime Saturday?

  10. Andrew H. on February 11, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Glad to see the Mormon Archipelago back, it is a valuable site, always where I start when I look at Mormon blogs. I worry that the clockmakers have set it up and are now letting it run on its own. Have any new blogs been added recently? I have asked for the Association for Mormon Letters (Dawning of a Brighter Day) blog to be added a few times, but I have not heard back. AML is a valuable cultural instituion in Mormon society, and deserves to be included. I hate to sound churlish with volunteers who set up a great resource, but is anyone actively updating MA?

  11. Dave on February 11, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Andrew, that’s partly true, although there have been a few new blogs added over the last year or so: Home Waters, Peculiar People, KiwiMormon, and ExpertTextperts. But I think a lot of new entrants to the world of LDS discussion are going to social media rather than blogs or websites. There just aren’t many new LDS blogs. I think that’s unfortunate: Facebook discussions tend to be personal rather than doctrinal or historical, serial rather than topical, and circular rather than cumulative. Blogs aren’t academic journals, but at times there is good content and serious discussion, and blogs are open to a much wider audience. Reading LDS Facebook discussions, my reaction is often: Stop complaining and read a book!

  12. Dave on February 11, 2013 at 10:21 am

    And only after posting the previous comment did I notice that three of the four newish blogs I listed are hosted at the Patheos site, which has done a great job of supporting LDS blogging and serious discussion of LDS issues.

  13. Ziff on February 11, 2013 at 10:21 am

    My impression is that the site isn’t being actively maintained, or at least not much. I did a little study with it last year for a Sunstone presentation, and found that a surprising number of the links were broken, or pointed to blogs that hadn’t been updated in a long time.

    Not to complain too much. I’m sure keeping it going takes a lot of work.

  14. Andrew S. on February 11, 2013 at 11:44 am

    11

    Dave,

    I also agree that blogs are not what most people think about starting. But interestingly enough, many people would have exactly the same complaints about blogging — personal rather than doctrinal or historical, circular rather than cumulative…and the reaction is basically the same for many blogs: stop complaining and read a book!

    (it reminds me of a quote that I saw from Socrates: the written word “destroys the memory and weakens the mind” because no longer do people have to memorize stuff.)

    In any case, what I was getting at is more that when you say “LDS blogs,” you are not really talking about all LDS blogs. What you mean to talk about is LDS blogs from a generally liberal (but not too liberal) perspective.

    Hence, the many comments here from people saying they wouldn’t want to be associated with Nothing Wavering. While I can understand how people would say Outer Blogness isn’t LDS…you can’t really say NW isn’t LDS. But you can say that it (and many of the blogs represented within it) aren’t Bloggernacle blogs. There may not be a whole lot of new bloggernacle blogs, but there are certainly plenty of new LDS (bloggernacle or otherwise) blogs. It’s just that the people here probably wouldn’t want to read them or be associated with them.

  15. Andrew S. on February 11, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Also, when the MA was down, I emailed Geoff and got a response *within the same day*

    I don’t know if he would be so swift to respond to a request to add a feed, but he is technically the person who would add feeds.

  16. Dave on February 11, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Andrew, I certainly respect the right of those who run Nothing Wavering to decide which blogs to list and how to list them. As noted above by Kent, it is probably good if there are several aggregators listing posts by LDS blogs. But I disagree that MA has a liberal focus or excludes “conservative” blogs (the terminology can be misleading, but that’s another post). Consider: Millennial Star, FAIR Blog, Small and Simple, and No Death Before the Fall (!!!) just to name a few.

  17. Andrew S. on February 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    But of course, Nothing Wavering primarily came into existence because of the delisting of Sixteen Small Stones…

    This has never been brought back.

    Some other no-shows — A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman, (Gay) Mormon Guy, Junior Ganymede (and by a T&S affiliated person as well…at least, I don’t know how much Adam Greenwood affiliates these days), Real Intent (but I guess I’ll take that more in that the MA is generally outdated. (I am not an expert of Nothing Wavering blogs, but these are just some of the pretty active ones I’ve seen for a while).

    I mean, if we wanted to talk about the overlap in blogs, then we could definitely get Ziff to look back through his notes on that sort of thing…but I think it’s sort of disingenuous to state that one aggregator is trying to be exclusive and another site isn’t.

  18. Dave on February 11, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Like I said, if you run an aggregator you have to make decisions about what to list and what not to list. If someone wants their blog to be listed at MA, they can make a request to one of the MA types. But there’s a difference between asking that a blog within the general MA parameters be listed and asking that MA change its parameters to fit someone else’s idea of what MA should be doing. My experience is that people who hand out free advice on what they think MA should be doing are generally not qualified to be handing out advice.

    That’s not a reference to you, Andrew — your feedback is welcome. Although it does sound like you should take a whack at building the perfect LDS aggregator.

    [edited]

  19. Andrew S. on February 11, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Dave,

    But there’s a difference between asking that a blog within the general MA parameters be listed and asking that MA change its parameters to fit someone else’s idea of what MA should be doing.

    I agree completely. I’m just pointing out that MA’s parameters aren’t equivalent to “LDS blogs”. And I’m totally OK with that — I’m not saying that it should include more or fewer blogs. So, I’m not giving advice or feedback here. Just pointing out that “Bloggernacle” =/= “LDS blogs” and there have been several occasions when this has become apparent (e.g., Mormon Matters/Wheat and Tares has discovered several times with respect to the now-defunct Niblets…)

    I’d have to know far more coding to try my hand at building the perfect LDS aggregator. the most I’ve done is some very minor, minor, minor design work with Outer Blogness — but really, chanson is the giant behind that (with weekly hand-crafted, hand-written summaries via Sunday in Outer Blogness!) Truly, her dedication is admirable. But then, a lot of people might think OB doesn’t count as an LDS aggregator at all…

  20. EJ on February 11, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Speaking of defining terms, the o.p. mentions “the bloggernacle,” no doubt using the precise term for what LDSBlogs.org-listed refer to its portion of the LDS blogosphere; however, as with scotchtape, q-tips, kleenex, and the like, “bloggernacle” has since been co-opted by other LDS bloggers to refer to their blogs, as well (….witness a http://askmormongirl.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/ask-mormon-girl-im-a-high-school-senior-should-i-go-to-byu/ current post by Joanna Brooks–which I just came across via the now-topnmost lilnk on T&S’s sideblog–where the non-LDSBlogs.org-listed blogger identifies AskMormonGirl.wordpress.com as “the Alice’s Restaurant of the Mormon bloggernacle”).

  21. Andrew S. on February 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    re 20,

    EJ,

    Yup, there’s definitely some “trademark genericization” going on…some of it intentional, most of it not, but oh well.

  22. Tom D on February 11, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I have generally appreciated the Mormon Archipelago aggregator, but it is definitely not what you could call canonical. It has clearly drifted leftward. I check Nothing Wavering periodically for contrast, but that is not perfect either. There are just a lot of blogs out there and more all the time. I rely more and more on blog recommendations from sites I trust.

  23. Dave on February 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    EJ, unfortunately we can’t control who uses the term and how they use it. The real term inflation occurred when Emily Jensen at the Deseret News adopted the term for her “Today in the Bloggernacle” and “Bloggernacle Week in Review” features, which are still posted regularly. As Emily Jensen uses the term, it basically refers to any blog or website she links to, which does have the unintended benefit of normalizing the term with the larger Church — any conservative bishop who thinks the Bloggernacle is a shady enterprise teeming with apostates will quickly be disabused of this notion by reviewing any ten posts by EmJen. Within the set of blogs roughly defined by the MA (add Nothing Wavering if that suits you) the older, narrower usage of “the Bloggernacle” is still used and understood.

    I imagine MA would list Ask Mormon Girl if requested. Joanna Brooks is certainly respected and admired by most LDS bloggers. Most Bloggernacle blogs link her pieces in their sidebars (I put the link you referred to on the T&S sidebar this morning). She posts at a variety of sites, so there is not single blogroll link that works for her; Ask Mormon Girl itself has moved around a few times to different sites. In a sense, Joanna is bigger than the Bloggernacle.

  24. Adam G. on February 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    The bloggernacle term got invented in a discussion on this site back when LDS blogging was a very new phenomenon, to refer to a set of newish blogs that all read and linked to each other and had largely the same set of readership. Over time, this community has come to have a sort of consensus viewpoint, ‘liberal but faithful’ or ‘faithful but liberal’ or ‘liberal but not too liberal’ (nice one). I’ve never understood it to be an MA brand name, although there is much overlap.

  25. Dave on February 11, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Here is the interesting T&S post Adam is referring to:

    http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2004/03/the-nameless-mormon-blogosphere/

    Here is the Wikipedia entry “Mormon blogosphere” that recounts the history:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_blogosphere