Another damned list

Feedster comes out with a list of 500 blogs. Jason Calacanis kvells (could it be because he sees his blogs on it?).

But this misses the point (again). Making a universal top n00 list, however it is made, continues to engage in old-media thing, big-media, mass-market think: The guys on top win.

No, in this new world of choice and control at the edges, it’s the niches, and those who can pull them together, who win. And it’s those who can demonstrate influence and engagement who will win — as soon as somebody figures out how to demonstrate it.

Besides, a universal top n00 list is even a bad execution of big-media think. When Ad Age gives you lists of magazine revenue, it separates women’s and entertainment and business publications; in big-media, those pass as niches and they are far more valuable comparisons. When talking about newspapers, you don’t lump in metro papers with town papers with trade papers; it’s a meaningless lump.

When somebody can tell me who the queen of the knitting bloggers is, then I’ll listen…. and so will knitting advertisers.

  • http://www.phillyfuture.org Karl

    Jeff – please explain because I’m realy confused – how is this list worst to you then the comScore list?

  • http://www.phillyfuture.org Karl

    Note, I’m not saying this is a good list or a bad one (a casual glance raises all sorts of interesting questions…for example where the hell is Slashdot and Metafilter?). Just that – if I understood you right – you essentially said we need more reports like the comScore one – which is essentially opaque to non-media industry types, and here and elsewhere are decrying lists like these – which are far more accessable to the public.

    I think it’s high time that information like this is out in the open. To my mind – the real issues are how these reports get generated and the behavior they spawn and sometimes re-inforce.

  • http://badhairblog.blogspot.com Fausta

    You know, Jeff, you’re beginning to make me consider whether I should take up knitting.

  • http://feedster.com Scott Rafer

    Hi Jeff,

    Bad example — what might well be the top knitting blog is on the list at #44 — http://knitty.com/blog ;) I realize that you were picking a random specialization, and I couldn’t agree more. Where’s the best plumbing blog or the best blog on Central Asian tourism?

    We put this together and surfaced it on the principle that the customers are always right. It’s not great for the blogging community as a whole, but it’s a pretty good tactical starting point for new blog readers who want an authoritative place to start browsing blogs and find the ones that match their needs and passions. Our strategy, however, has to (and does) match what Mary Hodder at napsterization.org/stories has been putting forward in terms of broad relevancy measures, preferably openly specified.

    ScottR

  • http://buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Karl: This list is fine for what this list is.
    I’m arguing, as I have before, that we don’t need one list of 500; we need 500 lists instead. That is true to the nature of this unmedium.

  • http://calacanis.weblogsinc.com Jason

    Jeff,

    I agree these lists are not the be all, end all.

    However, if we had four of five of these lists, and we had them based on time (i.e. only links from the 90 days), then you could really start to see some trends in the blogosphere. It’s great that Engadget is #1 this month, but the inbound links are not the reason Engadet is doing so well, it’s the hard work of the blogger over there–their passion and energy.

    At least we now have double the number of lists and the CEO of Feedster is looking for Feedback and talking about the process of building the list. Dave Sifry won’t even talk about how often the list is updated or how it is made. Now Dave has someone beating him for the first time and it’s because I wrote that blog post… so, I’m thrilled that we have a new list. Could care less where our 80 blogs are on any given list at this point.

    >> No, in this new world of choice and control at the edges,
    >> it’s the niches, and those who can pull them together,
    >> who win.

    Amen to that! Your new bosses at ABout.com having been doing that for years, and that is exactly what we’re trying to do at Weblogs, Inc.

    >> And it’s those who can demonstrate influence
    >> and engagement who will win — as soon as somebody
    >> figures out how to demonstrate it.

    Well, clearly links are one part of influence. Traffic is another (including not only page views but repeat visits… more then 50% of about.com’s traffic is search engines… people who are stumbling on the site, not coming back daily–I’m sure you can solve that!). Daily Candy or Luxist causing 200 people to call a store and buy out all the inventory on so super cute INSERT_CUTE_ITEM_HERE…. bottom line, there is no metric for what you’re talking about, but you know it when you see it.

    Not sure we will ever have a metric for what you’re talking about beyond the blogrolls on individual blogs (which is as good–if not better–then the n00 lists for finding cool stuff as Fred has mentioned).

    Psyched your consulting at About.com is going so well.

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    Jeff, I get the feeling that these lists already exist and the people who care about them have found them. There is a Carnival of Recipes, which Glenn R links to each week, and foodies find it and then find the great world of food bloggers.

    There’s the Carnival of Education, which is the same deal except people argue about education. And more. Truth Laid Bear has a page of all these.

    Maybe what we need is a place where you can go and see all the lists. And where you can enter your blog in the appropriate list.

    Personally, I don’t care one whit for who’s getting lots of attention. I only care when I need to publicize my Carnival….

    Why don’t you link to some of these lists/weekly events?

  • http://tk.com anon

    Jeff’s exactly right. The blanket lists, which list the same old big-blog suspects, recall the heady days of the (first) Internet boom, where the self-anointed “Digerati” would engage in a similar, self-congratulatory circle-j***.

  • http://punditdrome.com Scott Ferguson

    “I’m arguing, as I have before, that we don’t need one list of 500; we need 500 lists instead.”

    My site (punditdrome.com) tries to do just that — not 500 obviously, but to collect abstracts from blogs in specific content categories.

    Managing the site myself is a bit difficult given time constraints and the present limits of the custom CMS software. In the next release of PunditDrome, I’d like to enable sub-administrators to manage different areas of blog collections — have a knitting expert manage the knitting blog page, for example.

  • http://feedster.com Scott Rafer

    We’re working up how to publish multiple lists without being distracted from our “real job” of search and advertising services. The first few will be horizontal, based on different algorithms. How would this crowd like to see the verticalization work from there?

  • http://calacanis.weblogsinc.com Jason

    >> recall the heady days of the (first) Internet
    >> boom, where the self-anointed “Digerati”
    >> would engage in a similar, self-congratulatory
    >> circle-j***.

    except that anyone can start a blog in 10 seconds and start writing every day, and in less than a year get enough links to be on the list.

    In the first wave you had to know HTML and/or have thousands of dollars to pay someone to help you (if you could find someone!). Today anyone can start a blog/website and get in the game instantly, for free, and without tech skillz.

  • http://spap-oop.blogspot.com Tish G

    And it’s those who can demonstrate influence and engagement who will win — as soon as somebody figures out how to demonstrate it.

    the latter part of that sentence is the crux of the matter. The problem is that we are trying to employ algorithms to measure something that, as of this moment, isn’t easily quantifiable.

    If blogs are people, how does one write a neat little alogrithm to measure personhood?

    What is, unfortunately, at this time, easily quantifiable, are links. And niche blogs, esp. those of A-listers, gather the most links across the blogosphere. When talking to individuals about their blogging habits (not just examining a load of stats), many say that they will link to someone who’s a good source of information, not necessarily because the person has gathered a diverse community of personal connections. The list of related information links is considered community, but even long-time bloggers will admit that their blogrolls are not up to date nor are they the best sources of information, At this point, many bloggers outside of LJ don’t think of community over information, so information wins in the links game.

    Bloggers will also link to a voice they happen to like…yet some of those popular voices merely collect links and never bother to blogroll and will rarely post-link. The community, when there is one, happens in the comments, which aren’t quantifiable either.

    So, for now, until some of the great folks out in the Bay Area start to come up with fancy algorithms to measure virutal community by something other than niche, we’re stuck with the popularity contests of lists…

    My recent post (with comments) on Community Building and Linking is here:

    http://lovehopesexdreams.blogspot.com/2005/08/community-building-and-linking.html

    yeah, I hear ya…I’d go further if I could figure out how to hyperlink…

  • http://www.phillyfuture.org Karl

    In the first wave you had to know HTML and/or have thousands of dollars to pay someone to help you (if you could find someone!). Today anyone can start a blog/website and get in the game instantly, for free, and without tech skillz.

    That’s the beauty of the infrastructure we’ve been building collectively these past few years – we’ve lowered the tech barriers to entry a great, great deal – but we haven’t lowered the the marketing/networking skill barriers that are *still* needed to be heard. And that leads to…

    And it’s those who can demonstrate influence and engagement who will win — as soon as somebody figures out how to demonstrate it.

    Tish – good comment in response to this – but I’d argue that it is the first part of this statement that is the crux of the matter.

    You can be the greatest knitting weblogger in the world – but if you don’t get linked to – your blog will never ever get read.

    There are thousands upon thousands of great writers and service providers out there who don’t know anything about how to get heard. I’d say that personally myself – I now little – being the tool provider/host that I am – and probably not enough.

  • http://punditdrome.com Scott Ferguson

    As I’ve said elsewhere: You may have a restaurant range in your kitchen, but it doesn’t make you a chef. Likewise, you have access to a blog server, but it doesn’t make you a blogger.

    I love algorithmic blog aggregators. The deficiencies of their philosophies and approaches are why my service keeps growing sequentially month to month. It isn’t setting the blogosphere afire yet, but the feedback I’m getting now is extremely positive, and I expect good things in the future.

    Hasn’t anybody learned anything from Drudge? It’s not enough to produce the news, or mechanically aggregate it — you get value added from the editorial process by which the news is selected and placed on the page. That’s why aggregators are usless to anyone but stats junkies.

  • http://spap-oop.blogspot.com Tish G

    Good point, Karl :-)

    Thinking about it, I believe the vexing matter is indeed twofold–linking and measuring. People tend to think (or bitch) more about the social/mindset behind linking and don’t give as much consideration to the mathematics that measures linking. I’m very curious about the math, and love talking with the math folks–many of whom are of the mind that blogs are about business, politics and information rather than about unquantifiables such as quality writing, unique voice, and so forth.

    It ends up that thos latter aspects are devalued in the grander scheme of coding and measuring.

    Talking with the math folks about blogging that is not niche blogging, about blogging as a means of drawing attention to fascinating people within the blogosphere and building a community with them; about blogging as a form of essay/story/memoir rather than scatological journalling; or blogging a vehicle for the dissemination of superlative information (or punditry) is, I think, important to getting over our collective link obsession/whoring/however you want to refer to it. It is, IMO, just as important as getting a great link from an A-lister (which is similar to being “discovered” in the days of the Hollywood studios)

    I think, though, at this point, with the inadequate rankings system we have with Technorati–which has a reputation built as much on Dave Sifry and Joi Ito as it does on what it does–we are in something of a Catch 22. We are bound in a ranking system that is perpetuated by people who don’t consider the anecdotal or the creative “credible” because they don’t have the means to measure it. Breaking the ice and talking with them can, I think, go a long way to changing minds about the whole methodolgy of ranking.

    Until then, some of us are going to have to be the ones to build the communities to demonstrate that more, and better, algorithms need to be created.

  • http://spap-oop.blogspot.com Tish G

    Just took a looooonnnng look at the Feedster 500…

    one big problem in looking at the 500 is that alot of the blogs are group-blogs–or, more accurately, little media outlet blogs.

    How the heck are little guys supposed to get linked on media outlet blogs?? a harder thing to do than get linked by an A-lister, I’m sure.

    yet lots of people link to the media outlets.

    Perhaps there should be a separate counting of these sorts of blogs–they seem to take away from the notion that blogging is about the “little man.”

  • http://www.rosscode.com Joel Ross

    I just posted about this exact thing last night (http://www.rosscode.com/blog/index.php?title=lists_we_ve_got_lists) as did Jeremy Zawodny (http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/005001.html). To me, it’s not about the popular blogs. I don’t care who the world thinks is popular. I care who my network of blogs thinks is popular. What does that mean? Well, I subscribe to a number of blogs. I want to know what the most popular sites are among the blogs I subscribe to. Since you’d be looking at the RSS feed, and items drop off, this would be a dynamic list, changing as my network creates more content.

  • http://blogo.it Francesco

    The knitting example reminded me of Confusability scraping Bloglines public subscription folders in April. Knitting came out as a good cloud, maybe useful for verticalilzation?

    After that, Topix disaggregated their channels on Bloglines and found out that money isn’t on knitting as much as on quilting. So, on with the patchworking…

  • http://feedster.com Scott Rafer

    Tish, on the group blogs issue. Where should we draw the line? SepiaMutiny.com is a great group blog that follows all the behavior patterns but others of just larger size do not. How would you qualify it?

  • http://alpine-cda-9847r-shop.safen.be/ alpine cda 9847r shop

    Good site. Thank you:-)

  • http://where-can-you-buy.jimmill.be/ where can you buy

    Good site. Thank you:-)

  • http://girlsgonewildc.blogspot.com/ girls gone wild

    Cool site. Thanks.