There has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere of late about the methods used in ranking the popularity of a blog…the term popularity is sometimes interchanged with authority or influence.
At the moment the popularity of a blog is based on the number of people linking to it, the more links from others (implying popularity) the more the blog has a chance of making it within the Top 100 blog lists…this is great for exposure and credibility.
…systems that use this type of ranking are Technorati, and PubSub.
From a post by the Technorati weblog:
”…measure of influence or authority of a site or blog as measured by the number of people who are linking to it. Note that this is not a measure of page views or website “hits”. Rather, Technorati looks at linking behavior as a proxy for attention and influence. In other words, the more people who link to a site or blog, the more influence it has on others.”
See below for more on PubSub
I personally think popularity measures only go so far (business, money, ego, notoriety)…what about measuring influence, discussion, community (things that are more important to disseminating and sharing information to the world at large).
(I just noticed only 2 blogs I read are in the Technorati Top 100-does this mean I “dig” the long tail)
Another way blog popularity is measured is by the number of subscribers to a blog, this is commonly seen in RSS readers such as Rojo, Bloglines, and Feedster.
But this is only based on a portion of the blogosphere, only measures the blogs used in the service.
From the Ask Jeeves blog:
” Bloglines can add some unique perspective to this question, because we know which sites are compelling enough to attract at least one subscriber, among those that offer feeds”
It is important that readership is intergrated into the Technorati ranking as some influential blogs may have few incoming links but a lot of subscribers.
There are some blogs talking about the same issues as a top 100 blog, these blogs may be more informative, but have less exposure as they don’t get as many incoming links…this needs to change.
People read feeds in their RSS reader (their main sources of the blogosphere), so they won’t know about these other posts directly, so they link to a popular blog they know about…less known blogs need exposure on these lists for things to change…they need to be in more RSS readers.
…also some linking behaviour is biased because of who a person is…who cares if a blog superstar (a-list) links to something, it doesn’t mean it’s relevant to you, or cool just because they linked to it -“if they like it , it must be good”
We need to surface new talent instead of continually celebrating the blogs we know about…maybe we don’t need to replace popularity, but we need a new type of measure all together to reveal the blogs in the opaqueness (long tail) of the blogosphere.
Although many blogs are talking about this issue, one of the main posts that triggered a lot of response (check out the comments and trackback) is Link Love Lost or How Social Gestures within Topic Groups are More Interesting Than Link Counts
(By the way this blog is becoming one of my favourites at the moment, real quality posting)
Napsterization expresses some issues with ranking blogs via solely using incoming links (metric for authority):
“All of these lists tend to favor those who blog in more general, popular topic areas, and not those who are specialists in an area.”
“For many bloggers the relevant sphere of influence is not overall popularity…it’s influence and connection within a community…relevant measure of connection isn’t the number of connections — it’s the depth and impact of those connections.”
“…this is about going beyond lists and links, to understand that the social relationships of expression between and across blogs is really about searching for a “metric for identity” or “metric for affiliation”, “metric for community”, or “metric for influence”.”
Check out the chart at the end of the post to see the many other ways to score the impact of a blog, such as number of comments in the post, blogroll appearances, mentions without links, topic frequency, etc…
Technorati Top 100 is not totally a “hot” list, as they include incoming link history, so technically if a blogger is way ahead in top position and doesn’t even blog for a week, they may still be on top based on their incoming link history, this is only one perspective
…there should be a choice to view top blogs of all time, last month, last week, last day
There should also be a Top 100 based on various topics
…as mentioned previously more topic based blogs will have less incoming links (as not as many people will be into a niche topic compared to a general topic)
So it isn’t fair that these blogs who are very influential within their own community aren’t being promoted or exposed in these top lists, as they have a wealth of information and impact on a part of the blogosphere that could be augmented to a larger audience with the help of services like Technorati.
In this way the dominant blogs (A-list, what not) are not the only blogs getting exposure…the blogs that are part of the long tail are just as influential but are not considered so because of their number of incoming links in comparison.
…the blogs in the communities within the long tail should no longer be ignored, or should be discovered by using different ranking mechanisms (oooh, I used the should word!)
The blogosphere is so expansive, and there are real valuable blogs out there that can be promoted by topic based ranked lists (using a ranking method not solely based on incoming links)
Get Real mentions if there are to be more parameters that make up blog ranking (why not be able to make our own list based on the combination of parameters)…check out this post for other interesting thoughts.
From the post:
”…based on the user’s needs, wants, desires, they could create an array that would compare a set of blogs. If you think comments are a better indicator of value, skew that measure. If you think links are more important, go for it. If you consider mentions in the mainstream media more relevant for your analysis, bingo. The twiddling would be up to the user, and the rankings would shift accordingly.”
Similar mentions from John Frost:
”…what I’d really like to see is a matrix of information that I could customize on my own. A drop down box for how long I want the list to be 10, 100, 1000, etc. Whether to include group blogs. How far back to include links, etc. Then update and send me this list periodically. Then do it all again for tags, links, trackbacks, news stories, etc…
Then to top it all off, include the recent trackbacks to each site on the list, so you can see where each blog is in relation to others. I’m picturing something like a tag cloud or the ‘interestingness’ feature on flickr.”
Book blog mentions that instead of link ranks, maybe use a cloud system to see the position and influence of a blog within a community.
Jason Calacanis has some great points in relation to Technorati:
” Why are the total number of sources more valuable? I don’t know, but that’s what Technorati says, so it must be true. Which is more valuable: getting 100 links from 10 sites or 100 links from 100 sites? You could argue that 100 links from 10 sites means that you have loyalty from those 10 sites and that 100 links from 100 blogs shows no loyalty. You could also argue that having more sources means you’re more wildly respected. At the end of the day, Technorati should show both lists.”
“It’s based on the number of links for all time. This means if you have not been around for two or three years you’re not gonna make the list. It protects the old school folks and makes the list self-perpetuating. The “all time” setting is what causes the Technorati 100 to never change. I’d much rather see it be a trailing 90 days, or trailing six months. Heck, I’d settle for over the past year! Anything is better then just saying the Top 100 is based on who’s been around the longest.”
PubSub bases it’s top blogs on incoming links but add a flavour to the process to encourage a more fair perspective.
Bob Wyman from PubSub left a great comment on Jason’s post:
”much of what Jason asks for we’ve been doing for over a year with the LinkRanks calculations that are used to filter PubSub results. (i.e. you can subscribe to “Mentions of foobar in the top 1% of blogs.” or top 20% or top 15% — whatever.)
…we “decay” the value of InLinks over time. Newer InLinks are valued more highly than older InLinks. Also, if one blog links to another more than once on a day, we give progressively less value to each incremental link. Thus, while one link is given “one point”, five links would get much less than “five points” but more than one. InLinks from blogs with high LinkRank are given more weight than InLinks from blogs with lower LinkRank. It should also be noted that we only consider links that originate from entries in feeds. We don’t consider any links from blogrolls, etc.”
View blog ranking by PubSub at LinkCounts…covers LinkCounts Overview, Top 100 by InLinked Sites, Top 100 by OutLinked Sites, Site Stats (individual URL)
As I may think… (Bob Wyman) mentions a strong point on why Technorati counts sources and not links:
” Technorati may be counting sources rather than raw links since it is simply too easy to game a system that is focused only on raw links. If you wanted to get a high rank in a link-oriented system, you would simply ask some friends to write a few blog entries that each had several hundred links to your blog. It wouldn’t take too many such entries to push your InLink numbers into the stratosphere… It would be much harder to talk a large number of sites to link to you or you would have to build a “link farm.””
…great post on PubSub methodology.
More on PubSub future suggestions from business2blog:
” 1. Try to offer a top 100, top 500, or top 1000 list of just blogs (or at least offer an option for people to filter out other types of RSS feeds like those from Amazon).
2. Add an up-and-comers list. In addition to the top-ranked feeds, also show those feeds further down the tail whose popularity is growing the fastest.
3. Allow people to customize their own rankings by source, how far down the tail they want to go, and other categories.”
All this tweaking the incoming links ranking still doesn’t address the original problem of exposing influential blogs that don’t get linked to that often.
I can post links to the latest breaking stuff making me popular as everyone will point to my blog..which is OK.
But equally measured should (there’s that word again) be blogs that write real articulate posts that contribute to the betterment of a community, these blogs may not have loads of incoming links, but they are equally important to the blogosphere.
We have to be mindful that incoming links score high with what is important to our contemporary culture…if war, gadgets, politics, etc…are important or topical within our culture, then these types of posts will get you high on the list.
We need to help the emergence of important blog content that is absorbed in the long tail (just because of lack of incoming links, and the specificity of the topic)…how do we expose these types of blogs….I think top blogs by topic, by comments, etc…is a start.
In the end what is not popular doesn’t mean it is not important…just look at TV, that’s mainly popular content (even worse, most of the content is designed or based on the psychology of our attention spam and suspended belief ) and most of it is crap (sorry, I’m getting really cynical in this post for some reason).
Lotta Linkin Going On…Or Not (more from Napsterization)
Technology is neither good nor evil (lots of comments)
Truth Laid Bear (very interesting)
Where does Blogpulse fit in?