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Back in the mists of time — or the early 2000s, as they were also known — I went through several goes at blogging, moving through UserLand, Blogger, MovableType and eventually WordPress. Of all of those, WordPress was the one I found the least bad, so I stuck with that until 2006 when my blogging impetus ran dry.

(Not coincidentally, the following year I was persuaded to join Facebook by my sister, so what words I did put out during that time ended up there.)

One of the recurring features of my early years of blogging was the blogroll, because who doesn't want to show off how many sites and people they follow, amirite? :P But it was very much a labour of love, meaning it was all manual work (and occasional typos.)

Fast forward to 2018, when I finally started blogging again. WordPress was the obvious choice, as I'd been using it for a few years already for my work website. But the thought of having to compile a blogroll from scratch again meant I never got around to it.

(It didn't help that WordPress had hidden away the Links system, though the code was still there.)

Recently I've noticed that not only are blogrolls still a thing, but people are cottoning onto the fact that they may be important ways to rekindle blogging and the old web. So I started pondering how I could build my own and keep it up-to-date.

I already have the information to hand, it's over in Inoreader, my RSS feed service of choice. But I needed a way to get that into WordPress, preferably without needing to download and upload stuff repeatedly. Then I remembered about OPML, which is how my feed list survived the demise of Google Reader in 2013 and subsequently made its way to Inoreader.

Over the weekend, I stumbled on two things that would help turn my blogroll dream into reality. One was Sync OPML to Blogroll, which does exactly what it says on the tin, and resurrects the Links menu in WordPress in the process. The other was the Blogroll Block, which lets me drop in my Links using the Gutenberg editor.

The process of creating a working blogroll went like this:

  1. Point the Sync OPML to Blogroll plugin towards the URL for the OPML that Inoreader generates for me. (I had to turn on that feature on Inoreader first.)
  2. Wait for the OPML to be fetched and parsed to populate the Links database.
  3. Create a new page in WordPress, drop in the Blogroll Block.
  4. Adjust the Blogroll Block settings to my liking.
  5. Re-run step 2 after organising my RSS feeds into categories.
  6. Publish!

You can find it here. It will be updated daily for me to add new entries and remove old ones. It's still a work-in-progress, as I've not finished organising my feeds in Inoreader, and I want to add descriptions and other data for some of them here on the blog. But overall I'm pretty happy with this, and I hope this may be useful to others looking to get their own blogrolls going.

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