BlogRoll - boon or bane?

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[For the unaware: blogroll, n: A link list on one blog that links to
several related or recommended blogs. Some blogrolls are shared,
forming a structure like a webring, with each member linking to all
other members.]

I have heard various speculations that being part of such a blogroll is
actually harmful to your search rankings. The rationale is that since
you suddenly link to many sites the crawler may think are not related,
and are in turn linked to by a multitude of sites at once, the search
engine may interpret this as a link farm or linkspamming, and hurt the
sites' rankings accordingly.

Can someone tell me what they think of this? Is it likely that
blogrolls are as dangerous to your ranking as other link exchanges
(which Google repeatedly warns about)? Is it possible to maintain a
blogroll in such a way that it does not harm (or in fact benefits) your

If all else fails, can the blogroll be implemented in such a way that
it will be invisible to search engines, which will allow at least
humans to browse the group more efficiently, leaving the ranking

Thank you for your help.

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