A blog carnival is a tool which is used by bloggers to promote themselves and their work. In a classic blog carnival, one site is designated as the host or organizer, and participants send in permanent links, known as permalinks, to posts which meet the theme of the carnival. The organizers collects all the links together in a single post, allowing readers a jumping-off point to reach a wide variety of blogs. Readers often enjoy blog carnivals because they provide a chance to read diverse materials by bloggers which might otherwise be hard to find, while bloggers greatly appreciate the free publicity.
The Carnival of the Vanities, which started in 2002, is generally accepted as the first blog carnival. Once the concept caught on, numerous other blog carnivals started to arise, ranging from Grand Rounds, a blog carnival which focuses on medical blogging, to blog carnivals which focus on blog entries about cats, cars, knitting, and a variety of other themes.
Typically, a blog carnival occurs at a set interval, such as every week or every month. In order for the carnival to survive, fresh entries must constantly arrive, and the blog carnival must be promoted so that people know it is occurring. People usually take turns hosting, with hosting being viewed as a privilege which generates a great deal of traffic from sites which link to the carnival. Hosts may also be responsible for culling entries in some cases, although traditionally all on-topic submissions are accepted.
Most carnivals also have a theme, which may range from the best work a blogger thinks that he or she has produced to a specific topic like food, health care, or feminist issues. Since the goal of a blog carnival is sharing links and increasing traffic, participants in the carnival usually link to the carnival when it is posted, and they may also peruse the carnival and pick out several entries from other bloggers to promote or showcase.
Several websites serve as clearinghouses for blog carnivals, providing information about when carnivals are scheduled to go up, and who the hosts are. Some organizers allow submissions to be routed to them through these organizing sites, allowing people to use a central site to submit multiple carnival entries, while others require that submissions be emailed directly to them.
People who want to start a blog carnival may want to try searching for “blog carnival” and their theme of choice, or using the directory at a blog carnival hub to confirm that a carnival on that theme does not already exist. Getting a large pool of contributors and promoters together is also key; someone who wants to host a blog carnival about a particular foreign policy issue, for example, might want to email bloggers who write about that issue to let them know about the event, and to ask for submissions and promotion.