When you visit some people's blogs, you'll see a list of links to the blogs they read running down the side of the screen. How useful is this list? How could it be improved?
Educating the world on which digests are the most worthy to get a share of their time is one of the big challenges facing the digest movement. The easier it is for people to find the best digests, the easier it will be to grow interest in their usage. If on the other hand people can't find interesting reading, they'll be more likely to stick to email and the web (or television or radio or hiking, etc.)
Blogrolls are one of the methods we've developed for casting our votes and spreading the word. How often do people check out the feeds listed in others' blogrolls? I can only speak for myself, but I could probably count on the fingers of one hand how many feeds I've looked at simply because they were in someone's blogroll. I'm sure there are people who'd require the hands of a Hindu deity to count how many blogrolls they've checked out. A few things would make me more likely to consult others' blogrolls:
1) Sort the list with your favorites at the top (and indicate that the list is so sorted).
2) Add a short comment about why you like each blog. Put the comment in the link's title attribute to keep the list looking clean. (Most browsers display the contents of the title when you hover over a link with your mouse).
3) If you don't do either of the above, then keep the list short--no more than 15 or 20 at most. Otherwise it looks like a dumping ground for every blog you've ever read anything remotely interesting on.
If you've been reading here long, you know that I've built a newsfeed directory that lets visitors rate each newsfeed. That's another method that could be used to get the best to bubble to the top. Perhaps feed directories could have a feature added to them to track how many blogrolls feeds appear in as a measure of their popularity. (Perhaps somebody's already doing this, and I just don't know it). Such a directory would probably need a feature that would allow people to submit the address of an OPML or other such file and/or have their webcrawler look for those as well as for the feeds themselves.