Building a Better Blog Tracker?

This morning, while working through my newsfeeds, I came across something that’s been in the back of my mind for a while now. I hadn’t said much about it, because it’s not my area of expertise and I don’t have anywhere near the know-how to make it so. But someone out there does, and is looking to build a better blog tracker.

There’s been a lot of back and forth about A-list bloggers, the Technorati 100, the value of lists, and how to “work the A-list.”

Dare I write yet another post about the "A-list" and "tiers" as they have become a part of blogging? I’m not sure I’d say anything that I haven’t already said, but what does strike me as funny is that apparently even the "A-listers" are getting sick of all the talk about the "A-list," to the point of claiming that it doesn’t exist. It’s actually kinda funny to hear them complain about it.

Who knew it could be such a pain in the ass to be popular? I’ve even heard a few of the heavy hitters bitch and moan about the amount of email they get from people wanting them to write about stuff. (Big surprise. People figured out that when they write about stuff it reaches a bigger audience faster than if Joe Blow blogger wrote about it, or if I wrote about it for that matter.) Their answer to those requests seems to be "write about it yourself and if it’s intersting enough it’ll filter up to our notice." Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. If Joe Blow’s blog has 10 readers, chances are it won’t.  Alas, I don’t know that pain. This blog isn’t so well known that I’m deluged with requests and emails. I get a few, and I’m happy to get them. Maybe being a niche blogger such as myself isn’t such a bad thing, even if some niches are bigger than others. (I’m not entirely sure what my niche is, anyway.)

Anyway, I’m straying from my main point. The author in the initial post goes on to offer an incentive to create a blog tracker that works better and covers blogs differently than, say, the Technorati 100 or the Ecosystem.

Well, I’m sick of the Technorati 100. Now, it’s good to have a list (more on this later), but we need a better list that is more accurate and includes many more people, and both old-school and new-school bloggers.

… and I’m willing to pay for it—sort of (more details on that to come). 🙂

… If I was running a blog search engine, the first thing I would do is a 500 list that kicked butt. However, I don’t own a blog search engine.

I need this 500 list so bad that I’ll give an incentive: I’ll give $50,000 in advertising to the first person to come up with a better 100 list based on the feedback I’ve outline above (i.e. 500 folks, by links, based on the trailing 12 months, up and comer list, etc).

A list of 500, huh? It’s an interesting idea, and might open up the discussion a bit, and give people a chance to discover voice that don’t necessarily make the cut for a top 100. Depending on the criteria, I wouldn’t even make the cut for a top 500 list. At this point the ecosystem has me at #594. (I can’t believe I just linked to that.) But here’s the thing. In a universe of 14.2 million blogs, 1.8 million of which are pretty regularly updated, being in a top 1000 — let alone a top 500 or 100 — of anything is pretty good.

But I gotta wonder, do we really need another list? On this I think Jeff Jarvis has a point.

What I’d think you’d be proposing instead, based on your experience at WeblogsInc., is a bottomless bucket of lists: Engadget’s top gadget blogs (and as a reader, I’ll look at Gizmodo’s list and at Ubergizmo’s and make my own list), and Adjab’s top ad blogs, and Autoblog’s top car blogs, and on and on and on.

You don’t want a list of the top 500 blogs, Jason. You want 500 lists, right?

Five hundred lists might be a good place to start, but that wouldn’t mean that the big, meta lists that everyone’s moaning about will go away, at least in terms of who reads who, and who are the "go-to bloggers" when the major media outlets come knocking. Let’s face it, "A-list" (along with the other lists) isn’t going to go away, and neither are the perks of being on it, no matter how many other lists we create.

The other "500 lists" may help us as bloggers find each other and find communities more easily, but the world beyond of the blogosphere isn’t going to care about the "top 500 blogs on left-handed basket weaving," or the "top 100 blogs on bovine insemination." They want to know who has the most or gets the most of whatever is used to rate overall popularity, like links or traffic. The ones at the top of that list will be the "A-list," in terms of the media (and, yes, I know we are the media but some of us are bigger media than others; there’s a world of difference between the Podunk Gazette and the Washington Post), because they’re the biggest with the most. Period.

Saying "there is no ‘A-list’" doesn’t make it so, and if there wasn’t one it wouldnt’ be long before someone built one. Those at the top of it will get more of whatever rewards — material or otherwise — our current society offers. They’ll have more influence too, in terms of how many people read them and hear what they have to say. They’ll become opinion leaders. You’ll see them quoted in the traditional media. You’ll see them on television. They’ll get attention and opportunity that the rest just won’t. That’s just the way people are, and if there’s one thing that doesn’t change it’s people.

So if you go into blogging aiming for all that, I’d suggest taking up some other hobby. Like needlepoint. On the other hand, if you’re perfectly happy if only 10 people a day whiz by your blog, and maybe half as many link to it, jump on in. The water is fine.

But as long as something’s gonna get built, it might as be interesting to measure things like links, sources, traffic, return visits, session length, etc. and put them all together in a way that creates a dynamic list. Technorati’s list, as Jason points out, doesn’t change much. Neither, for that matter, does the Ecosystem.

I’ve noted before, that both Technorati and the Ecosystem have made changes that attempt to spread the focus beyond the usual suspects, but the "top" lists haven’t gone away, and probably won’t. I’ve stopped wishing they would, though it doesn’t mean I like they any better. Jason says "it’s good to have a list," and will say why later. That I’d like to hear.

It’ll be great is something gets build that shines the light on a broader selection of blogs and bloggers; great for bloggers looking for other blogs. But in terms of the "A-list" and others such ranking systems, I don’t think it’s going to change much in general. When can shout "death to the list" as loud and long as we want. The "A-list" will still be the "A-list."

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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3 Responses to Building a Better Blog Tracker?

  1. Brad says:

    I agree that there’s got to be a better way. Nobody really seems to have a handle yet on the best way to quantify the ‘sphere.

    But personally, what I really want is just a searchable database of blogs that screens out spam blogs. I want to subscribe to blog searches on Technorati and BlogPulse, but more than half of all the results are just “Search Engine Optimization” crap. If I could just search the top 500 (or 1,000 or 10,000) non-spam blogs, I’d be a happy camper.

    Maybe Google has something in the works?

  2. Stroll says:

    I, for one, would never complain about being popular. But I’m not popular, so there. haha

    Yeah, don’t start blogging hoping for a huge readership. You’d do better writing letters to the editor of your local paper.

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