I keep coming across blogs with titles like “Top 50 Blogs in [genre or category]. Perhaps it would be much more of a service for someone to produce a list of the worst blogs in a particular category.
A post like that, if written by someone who was well-respected within the community, would help people avoid wasting their time reading stuff that is inaccurate, too opinionated, too concerned with the author of the blog. Of course, anyone doing so would probably become deeply unpopular and may even be sued for libel. In any case, it’s not a nice thing to do: imagine finding your own blog amongst the entries.
This tongue-in-cheek idea was inspired by a piece of writing I came across this afternoon. In a letter to the Pall Mall Gazette in 1886, Oscar Wilde said the following in recommending that a list be compiled, for the benefit of university students, of books not to read. Substitute the word “blogs” for “books”, and it still rings true:
Indeed, it [the list] is one that is eminently needed in this age of ours, an age that reads so much that it has no time to admire, and writes so much that it has no time to think. Whoever will select out of the chaos of our modern curricula ‘The Worst Hundred Books’, and publish a list of them, will confer on the rising generation a real and lasting benefit.
I love the bit about an age that “writes so much that it has no time to think”. I wonder what Wilde would think now?
John Cross (Ed): The New Oxford Book on English Prose, OUP, 1998