Link Bait At BlogCatalog

by derek on June 29, 2007 · 19 comments

The other day I signed up for BlogCatalog and shared my first impressions with their service while I waited for my account to be approved.
With my account approved the very next day, I jumped right in and started participating in the discussions and meeting new people across the blogosphere.
Since I was having such a good time with my experience and noticed that I was picking up some additional visitors to this blog via BlogCatalog, I decided to submit my personal finance blog as well.

BlogCatalog Denied Message

In order to have your blog approved by BlogCatalog, you are required to add a link back to BlogCatalog from your site. When I submitted my other blog, I did not think to add one of the available buttons/widgets to that site as well. Unfortunately that means that my other blog has been declined until I add a link back to their site.
While I don’t think a link back is a huge deal and I can understand BlogCatalog’s desire to build their status by requiring a link back from every user, I don’t feel this is really in the spirit of *community* that they are hoping to build.
In my eyes, BlogCatalog is competing for users with MyBlogLog and this is something that MyBlogLog does not require of their users in order to list their blog. To put this in the context of the software world, the requirement for a link back to BlogCatalog feels like something Microsoft would do while MyBlogLog feels more like the open source community that trusts many users will link back as a courtesy rather than a necessity.
As Damien Riley commented on my other post, BlogCatalog hasn’t really done anything to differentiate themselves from MyBlogLog – at least not in a positive manner.
Maybe Daniel or someone else from BlogCatalog will shed some light on why they feel it is necessary to require a link back from your website before it can be approved. One explanation that might seem feasible would be to use the link back as a means to verify that you do in fact own the blog in question. However, I can think of many alternatives to verify blog ownership that would not force every blog to contain a link back.
As much as I want to say that this isn’t a big deal, it just rubs me the wrong way and I am questioning whether I want to comply with their requirements on my personal finance blog.
What do you think about BlogCatalog requiring a link back before they will approve your blog?

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Leo June 30, 2007 at 1:50 am

Although I didn’t start my site to make money, I still think of it as real estate. If I am going to allow someone to advertise on my property and take up space (adding to unsightly clutter), it had better be worth it. MBL has worked out well, but I don’t see BC as benefiting the same at the moment.


Daniel June 30, 2007 at 1:56 am

The primary purpose of the link back is indeed to verify blog ownership. Sorry if this rubs you the wrong way, but I’m not sure what else to tell you.
It’s also a very beneficial tool for the BlogCatalog Community, as most of the links back go straight to the Directory Categories allowing readers to find more blogs that they may be interested in, helping us drive more focused traffic to your blog. How awful of us.


derek June 30, 2007 at 3:58 am

@Leo :: You make a very valid point about the value of the real estate on a blog, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
@Daniel :: As I stated in my post, there are a handful of ways that one can prove blog ownership without requiring a link back. Google provides a few solutions that seem to work well for them, I would think something like that would work pretty well.
Like I said above, I think many people would be happy to provide a link back to promote BlogCatalog and the directory categories without requiring them to add a link. If you take a look at MyBlogLog, they do not require a link back but I am pretty confident that a high percentage of users have a link back to them on their site.
Thanks for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts and reasoning behind the link back.


Daniel June 30, 2007 at 8:13 am

well also consider that MyBlogLog has a huge spam problem. If we allow anyone to submit any blog to get their account approved, they can then login to BlogCatalog and start spamming our network, plus they have just claimed someone else’s blog.


derek June 30, 2007 at 10:09 am

I would say those are probably two of the most valid reasons for requiring an approval process for each blog. You’re right that MBL has more spam than I have seen at BC thus far.
Using the link back, I guess the possibility to claim someone else’s blog still exists (although is highly unlikely) if they have a link to BC on their site but have not actually joined BC. For instance, assume that I find a site that is promoting social networks and has one of the links to BC but never actually joined. With your current verification process, if I submit that URL I can get ownership of that site.
That is where I think something like a unique file on the blog owner’s site that you can verify the existence of that file would be a more thorough solution to the verification issue.
Daniel, I want to thank you for taking the time to stop by here to participate in the conversation and share your inside perspective. As a user of your service, I’m just trying to point out the things that I don’t like about the service in the hopes that one day they might be different/better.


Rose June 30, 2007 at 11:24 am

I too noticed that is trying to compete with mybloglog. Why not use a code like Technorati does for verifying blogs.
At I request a link back and so does, but we are both blog directories where blogcatalog is suppose to be a networking site.


Chris Gray June 30, 2007 at 5:34 pm

To be quite honest, I would prefer if they used a non-obtrusive method of site verification (i.e. Google’s meta tag inclusion). It proves that I own the site but does not require that I post a visible link/chiclet on my site. I would also be ok if they would let you add a link back to your own BC community instead of just to the main site…just a thought.


ms danielle June 30, 2007 at 6:33 pm

agreed. and i’m not sure daniel’s tone is appropriate representation for the company either. i for one am not persuaded by his arguments. with that said, i hear there is benefit to adding shout outs in BC, as they give back links. but don’t quote me on this, i don’t use their service too much.


Daniel July 1, 2007 at 5:55 pm

We made a decision early on not to allow hyperlinks in the shoutbox, primarily as a deterrent to any user who only wants to use the system to spam or acquire link backs.


derek June 30, 2007 at 10:07 pm

@Rose :: I think you hit the nail on the head with the distinction between a blog directory and a social networking site. I view BC as more of a social networking site but the link back is something you see from the directories.
@Chris :: Exactly, I think trying to use blog verification as rationale for the link back is a little weak but there was feedback on my BC discussion that they do have different verification methods on their agenda, although it is low priority.
@Danielle :: I have to admit that the smugness of Daniel’s first response really turned me off but I think he is just trying to defend something he has worked hard on. While I don’t think that is the right approach, I can understand where he is coming from. I’m not sure about the shout outs providing back links but it might be worth an experiment.


Daniel July 1, 2007 at 5:50 pm

Sorry if i came off the wrong way earlier. It just seemed like the blog post unfairly glazed over the reasons that we would require a link back and didn’t offer much as to what the alternative solutions were that you had in mind . After reading the post after a long day, i did feel the need to defend our network. I guess it’s a pride thing.
Talking with you and everyone else about the verification process has been a wonderful experience. It really solidified our ideas of how to make it an easy and painless experience for everyone, and hopefully it’s something we can tackle in the upcoming months. The BlogCatalog team is made up of only 4 people, and I am the sole programmer, so we have really had to streamline our priorities so that we can release the most beneficial updates that we can.
Again, Thanks for the feedback and engaging in a discussion with me, It’s really what we thrive on.


derek July 1, 2007 at 10:52 pm

Daniel, being a programmer myself I knew where you were coming from as it is natural to have a good deal of pride in your work and it sucks when it feels like someone is attacking that work.
We’ll be looking forward to how BC continues to move forward and hopefully provides a few alternative means of verifying blog ownership, as it seems many users would appreciate that.


Damien Riley June 30, 2007 at 11:21 pm

When you are talking about ideals it makes a mathematic discussion. But when you get into someone’s bread and water, then they tend to snap.
I hold nothing against Daniel or others who defend BC. It’s not inherently a bad service. They just need a lot more innovation to compete in a “fad” that is constantly changing. With similar services out there innovating far beyond the archaic “you must link us” requirements, they have a tough road ahoe to make it into 2008 and beyond.
Best of luck to BC. We are all watching. I must say that Daniel’s sarcastic response on here is enough to make me steer clear of the company.
I guess time will tell what happens to BC.


Dave July 1, 2007 at 9:19 pm

I’m in agreeance with the method for blog verification not being the best. I for one would not put a link or “ad” on my site just for verification purposes to get into a directory. Google Webmaster Tools allows you to upload a file to your site, if they can hit it, your blog is verified. How about something like that?
I’m surprised you haven’t heard more complaints like Derek’s.


derek July 1, 2007 at 10:53 pm

@Damien :: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It will be a tough road for BC to compete, particularly when you consider the size of their team as Daniel mentioned earlier.
@Dave :: That is exactly what I was thinking as a good alternative, as it is unobtrusive and easy enough to implement.


Rose July 23, 2007 at 1:08 am

“As Damien Riley commented on my other post, BlogCatalog hasn’t really done anything to differentiate themselves from MyBlogLog – at least not in a positive manner.”
Monkey see- monkey do?


Daniel August 9, 2007 at 1:40 pm

Hey Derek, Just digging up this old blog post to let everyone know that we now have a meta tag verification method for anyone who doesn’t want to sacrifice their blog’s real estate to a linkback or widget. Thanks!


derek August 9, 2007 at 6:45 pm

Daniel, thanks for stopping by to share this piece of news!


Jan Weingarten December 30, 2007 at 12:38 am

I just got declined by Blogcatalog and found my way to this thread by googling “declined by blogcatalog,” and found some pretty interesting stuff. True, I just started my blog about a week ago, so maybe they don’t like new blogs. But if so, they don’t say that anywhere that I can see.
Here’s why I was declined:
“The URL you submitted is not a blog, is solely for commercial purposes, or is suspected to be spam”
Right. Well, it is definitely a blog, and it is NOT spam. It DOES contain Adsense, but so do Blogcatalog and many of the sites contained on it. If they choose not to accept any sites with commercicial content (which is their right), it would be really nice for them to let people know upfront.
Like a good little soldier, I created my profile and put their widget on my blog, which, being fairly new to the process took me a bit of maneuvering with sidebars and things.
What I found when I searched was a bunch of people who have been declined without any explanation other than “the URL you submitted is not a blog, is solely for commercial purposes, or is suspected to be spam” without any idea why they’ve been rejected, and only the ambiguous, “if you believe this to be a mistake” … you can change anything “which MAY have caused it to get declined.”
SHEESH! If you don’t know what caused it to get declined, how are you supposed to fix what MAY have caused it to get declined???
I had heard good things about Blogcatalog and the community, spent some time perusing the discussions, and found some I’d like to take part in, but of course can’t because I’m not worthy.
Daniel, I do understand concerns about spam. And I’ve participated on many forums and newsgroups, long before the web existed. There are many ways to deal with spam, including moderation, other than rejecting blogs out of hand without any explanation. I understand you are short-handed. I worked as a tech writer for a start-up, and I can relate to the pressures, but alienating potential customers isn’t great customer service imo. We’re not ALL spammers.
I am posting this here because I can’t post on Blogcatalog because I’m persona non grata. I hope you will see it, Daniel.
p.s. I agree with you about gift cards, Derek. Except Starbucks. I can always use more lattes. Gimme those free lattes!


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