Some eager people have emailed in questions. Here are the answers:
How do you select blogs for the list?
A lot are nominated either by their owners or by people who visit them. I also trawl the web to see what I can find. Then there are those who post blogs listing blogs they have found. I’m not averse to a bit of plagiarism. Then there are the lists of “blogs I follow” that feature on many blogs. Once a blog appears on my list, I look for their lists and add links here. Each month, I keep some slots free for nominated blogs until the night before I post each update. The other slots get filled by blogs I have come across. I think I have enough blogs in the waiting list to keep the monthly updates going until mid-2019! Which isn’t bad considering my original plan was to make a list of 200 and match an earlier blog list, now defunct, that was maintained commercially.
Will you include any blog in the list?
Well this is my list and I make the rules (that’s fair). But the rules have been devised and honed in conjunction with a lot of others so I hope I’ve got things right. I’m always open to suggestions. Essentially I will include any blog which has something to do with gardening/horticulture/allotments and so on as its main element. A blog about wildlife which is found in gardens would get listed even if it didn’t mention a single plant. But not a blog about interior decoration which mentioned vases of flowers.
What I WON’T INCLUDE are
- Blogs which are simply commercial advertising sites posing as blogs. By all means take the opportunity to ply your wares but if that’s all you do, then forget it. The blog should offer something to the reader: advice, information about plants or growing vegetables for example. A nursery might have a blog giving advice on how to grow plants and that’s fine – several commercial sites have blogs in a separately identified section – but a list of what’s on sale and the tearoom menu doth not a blog make. At what point a blog goes over the line and becomes too commercialised is a very fine one but ultimately it’s my call as to whether a blog is just way too commercial to include here.
- Rare bloggers. I’ll archive off any blog which isn’t updated for six months. That’s not an arbitrary period; lots of gardening blogs close down for the winter simply because their “owners” don’t have anything interesting to say. Six months is about the max for wake-up time. Of course, if a blog then wakes up again after archiving I can simply un-archive it.
- Idiot blogs. I’m not going to promote people writing about something they know nothing about. Like the blogger who thought “digitalis” was a variety of “foxglove” or the knowledgeable person who suggested spraying your lawn with glyphosate to kill the lawn weeds. At some point I do visit EVERY blog I list here and will remove those which mislead.
- Web sites. These tend to be less dynamic than blogs. If you have a web site of which the blog is an element, I will link to the blog. This is as I deal with myself – I have a blog which is listed here. I also have a few gardening-related web sites which are not.
How often do you update the list?
I aim to update the list around the beginning of each month but sometimes life will, no doubt, get in the way. There’s a fair amount of work involved in grabbing and checking blogs. You might like to subscribe to update notifications and receive an email alert whenever I post an update. The subscribe bit is top right if you’re here on a desktop device or right down the bottom of each page if you’re using a smartphone.
Why no more than ten blogs a month?
When I started the list I was adding blogs on a weekly basis. This became too much to keep going so I moved to fortnightly and finally to monthly. Then I started looking carefully at statistics, initially to see whether I was wasting my time compiling the list. OK, a couple of thousand visits by actual human beings each month isn’t bad (I can filter out the bots and stuff).
Next step was to see how the list, and the updates were being used. As you might expect, there has always been a burst of people visiting blogs after each update but the numbers of clicks on each link diminish as you move down the list. When I added 15 blogs in one update, the bottom five hardly attracted any clicks at all. There seemed to be something like a cliff edge after the tenth blog.
So I’m sticking to a limit of around ten, This, I think, is best for everyone. Better to wait a bit and get visitors to your blog than to charge in and find your blog just disappears into the crowd.
Bear in mind that the monthly updates also involve checking blogs already on the list – I aim to verify about 50 each month and this takes a bit of time.
Could you organise the list by subject?
I’d like to but there’s only one of me. Listing blogs by subject, e.g “Vegetable Growing” involves a lot of work. Firstly, few blogs are single subject. For example there’s “Veg Growing”, “Fruit Growing”, “Cooking”, “Allotment Growing”, “Garden Veg Plot Growing”, “Raised Bed Growing”, “No Dig Growing” and so on. Secondly, how would I pick up a blogger who, after years of only blogging about vegetables, suddenly gave up the allotment and only blogged about exhibition chrysanthemum growing?
But, as the list grows, I recognise that some sort of organisation other than purely alphabetical will become essential at some point and I’m working through a number of suggestions. I think that whatever I can come up with, it will ultimately be down to each blog owner to select categories from a defined list. Developing that list will be the fun bit but then it will be down to everyone to play their part. Easily sorted for the future where people ask for their blog to be added – they can choose their categories when they make the request – but a potential nightmare for those blogs which get added because I’ve found them as for me to decide the categories would often involve trawling through any number of posts blog by blog or contacting each blog owner to invite them to choose. And that’s without worrying about the 250 or so blogs already on the list.
Can you keep the screen grab images more up-to-date?
For the same reason, no. It takes around ten minutes to change one image.
Even if I could find a plugin or something that will continually read over 200 blogs and present an up-to-date screen grab, you’d be swearing if I tried to implement that. Just think that whenever you load a listing page, instead of reading it from my server, some program had to visit each and every linked blog one by one and download, rasterise, formulate and place into the page whatever that blog presented to it. It would take some pages around an hour to load.
I do update the odd grab here and there if I notice a major change in appearance but, otherwise, the image is just there because some people have said it’s helpful to jog their memories so they remember visiting a blog before.
What about the text under each image?
Now that’s a lot easier to change but you’ll have to ask me and tell me what you’d like instead. The original text is grabbed from something like an “About” page on the blog. If there’s no such page, then if there’s a strapline under the title, that’ll be used. Otherwise there will be no text under the image.
If you would like to amend the text for your own blog, use the “get in touch” page to send me the revised text. The text should be no longer than 750 characters, including spaces (if you type it first in something like Word you can run a character count and then copy&paste the text into the contact form. I will verify your details before I make the change (there are lots of ways to do this) to make sure that it is YOU asking me to change YOUR listing.
What’s happened to blog of the month?
I tried featuring a different blog each month but found that the number of clicks on that link was often under five each month. So I’ve saved myself a little bit of time. It was worth a try but it didn’t seem to achieve anything. Instead I’m now slowly adding a section on blog memes. The click-through stats are decidedly higher. Also because many memes cover particular topics, the meme lists offer some subject identification, e.g. trees, foliage plants, wild flowers and wildlife.