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In this season of reindeer games, a couple of blogging "games"–or, more specifically, memes–have been bouncing around blogs over the past few weeks. The two memes underscore two fundamental strengths of blogs and blogging–community and collaboration–which is what links them....

The first is "5 Things You Didn't Know About Me": A blogger lists five things about himself or herself that most readers don't know, and then tags five other bloggers to do the same. Andrea Learned tagged me in early December, and since then it's increasingly hard to read a blog these days without tripping over a "five things" post. Even the corporate sort have unbuttoned a little and shared a few facts about themselves.
Which I think is cool. To be honest, at first I thought the "Five Things" meme was a bit of a drag -- a silly indulgence that was more work than it appeared. But I've grown to see it differently.
A clear strength of blogs is that they humanize a company or an organization, literally by giving it voice. Playing the "5 Things" meme takes it one step further, by encouraging writers to blog off-topic and create a fuller picture of the blogger and, by extension, the entire organization.
As HP's Eric Kintz wrote, "I usually don't participate in these games–[and] also wondered if it was too non-corporate for me to answer. A corporate blog is supposed to be an unfiltered, authentic, personal voice of an employee expressing his/her opinions, not the party line. Knowing the person behind the blog would seem as critical (if not more) as for any non-corporate blog."
The second meme is the "Z-List," created by Mack Collier. Mack also created the list of "Top 25 Marketing Blogs," which he publishes faithfully every week. But he always struggled with the exclusionary aspect of the Top 25 list, and so on December 12 he had a thought:
"In an effort to bring more link-love to those blogs that I feel aren't getting their due, I've created a small list of blogs below that I've linked to. The idea is to create a meme built around giving link-love to the blogs that deserve it, and hopefully turn Technorati's system of using a blog's # of links to determine its 'authority,' on its ear."
Mack listed five blogs he thought were excellent but under-read, and then invited other blogs to add to it. Mack wrote: "The end result is that many great blogs will get a ton of extra exposure, we'll all find some great new blogs to add to our reading list, and you'll get mucho good karma points for helping out your fellow bloggers!"
Mack's original list has "memed" (is that a word?) into– well, count for yourself. It's being reprinted on marketing blogs all over the internet:

Creative Think, Soloride, Movie Marketing Madness, Blog Till You Drop!, Get Shouty!, One Reader at a Time, Critical Fluff, The New PR, Own Your Brand!, OTOInsights, bizandbuzz, Work, in Plain English, Buzz Canuck, New Millenium PR, Pardon My French, Troy Worman's Blog, The Instigator Blog, AENDirect, Diva Marketing, Marketing Hipster, The Marketing Minute, Funny Business, The Frager Factor, Mindblob, Open The Dialogue, Word Sell, Note to CMO:, That's Great Marketing!, Shotgun Marketing Blog, BrandSizzle, bizsolutionsplus, Customers Rock!, Being Peter Kim, Pow! Right Between The Eyes! Andy Nulman's Blog About Surprise, Billions With Zero Knowledge, Working at Home on the Internet, MapleLeaf 2.0,, Two Hat Marketing, The Engaging Brand, The Branding Blog, CrapHammer, Drew's Marketing Minute, Golden Practices, Viaspire, Tell Ten Friends, Flooring the Consumer, Kinetic Ideas, Unconventional Thinking, Buzzoodle, Conversation Agent, The Copywriting Maven, Hee-Haw Marketing, Scott Burkett's Pothole on the Infobahn, Multi-Cult Classics, Logic + Emotion, Branding & Marketing, Popcorn n Roses, On Influence & Automation, Bullshitobserver, Servant of Chaos, converstations, eSoup, Presentation Zen, Dmitry Linkov, aialone, John Wagner, Nick Rice, CKs Blog, Design Sojourn, Frozen Puck, The Sartorialist, Small Surfaces, Africa Unchained, Perspective, gDiapers, Marketing Nirvana, Bob Sutton, ¡Hola! Oi! Hi!, Shut Up and Drink the Kool-Aid!, Women, Art, Life: Weaving It All Together, Community Guy, Social Media on the fly, Jeremy Latham's Blog, SMogger Social Media Blog,

What I love most about the Z-list meme is the simple "honor rule": No adding your own blog to the list. Adding that rule feeds into the second strength of blogging: the ability to collaboratively link to one another and share our collective voices. Blogs aren't islands, and those who regularly get off their own blog and comment on and link to others play the game best.
(As an offshoot, Seth Godin created a Squidoo "Z-List." I'm not a fan of it, because it allows registered Squidoo users to vote blogs up and down, which I think is antithetical to the spirit of blogging. Then again, maybe I'm naïve.)
Regardless, both of these memes feed into the blog wellsprings of community and collaboration. Just add a third C: Content.

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image of Ann Handley

Ann Handley is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author who speaks worldwide about how businesses can escape marketing mediocrity to ignite tangible results. IBM named her one of the 7 people shaping modern marketing. She is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a LinkedIn Influencer, a keynote speaker, mom, dog person, and writer.