Wednesday, November 12, 2003

No! You can't make me devolve! I won't be a microbe again!

I pay attention to my ranking in the TTLB Ecosystem on a daily basis. (Right now, I'm a Marauding Marsupial.) Yeah, that sounds kind of anal and geeky; after all, the Ecosystem merely tallies the number of member blogs in the Ecosystem that link to your own blog, and it doesn't necessarily have much to do with actual readership. (It can get a little disheartening to check Sitemeter, see that I've had a lot of hits, and then upon checking the referrals discover that they're all Google search hits.) But it only takes about ten seconds to check the Ecosystem rankings, they're only updated once a day (so checking it a bunch of times throughout the day would be stupid), and it is a fun way to track the growth of one's blog, much like the Technorati Link Cosmos.

But now, I see via Lynn Sislo that some kind of folderol is going on in which some blogger or group of bloggers is involved in collusion to drive up their own rankings (details here and here). This is, as Lynn and the Bear note, a rather silly exercise that is really unlikely to generate traffic, if that's what the participants are intending. Believe me, I know: I check my hits any number of times throughout the day (again, geeky and all, but also again, it takes all of five seconds), and frankly I can't remember the last time I got a hit off the Ecosystem page. And for those bloggers in the top 100, they're there because they have so many inbound links that this is how they generate traffic. Trying to artificially "move up" in the Ecosystem really isn't likely to pave the way to huge traffic and respect in Blogistan. It's the blogging equivalent of all those people who think that success in writing is a function of having the right agent, knowing the right people, or getting Stephen King (or Steven Den Beste) to read your manuscript and give it the green light to the folks on the inside.

Yes, I have done a massive-link post as a way of giving a fellow blogger a "boost" in the Ecosystem; in fact, I did it a couple of weeks ago, on Morat's behalf, but I think it was pretty clear that I was doing that as a one-time throw-away thing (and more importantly, because I really do think that Morat runs a fine blog that could do with more readership). And yes, I know that it can be frustrating to blog one's heart out and have the posts-of-wisdom go unnoticed by the SDB's and the Atrios's and the Reynolds's of the world. What's even more frustrating is when I, having blogged for nearly two years now, see someone from Kevin Drum's comments section start their own blog and get a front-page mention on his on their "launch day", which almost immediately sends their traffic surging higher than what I've managed to build in two years with no such connections. But them's the breaks.

Just a few more random thoughts about the Ecosystem and such:

:: I pretty much agree with everything the Bear writes, except for his rather ham-handed attempt to describe the whole "League of Liberals" scheme in the light of liberal politics. It's a goofy scheme, but let's not try to make it into some larger lesson about liberals in general.

:: Here's something weird: when I glanced briefly at the League of Liberals blog, I decided to check their Sitemeter, at the bottom. Strangely, the Sitemeter on the League's blog doesn't link the League's Sitemeter stats; rather, it links the stats of a blog called Rush Limbaughtomy, which in turn has five Sitemeter links at the bottom, one of which actually is for the League. What is the point of doing all that?

:: Finally, a brief thought on the Ecosystem's functionality. I don't know anything about such things, so maybe it would be too difficult for this to be done, but perhaps the rankings might be more accurate if "dead blogs" could be somehow weeded out. To cite my favorite example, William Burton's blog has not been updated in ten months, so should blogs he linked way-back-when still get credit for those links?

UPDATE: Well, on the first of my "additional thoughts" above, where I take the Bear to task for trying to draw some lesson about liberalism from all this, it turns out that he was actually responding to one of the Conspirator's attempts to do the same. Guess I should have, you know, "read the whole thing". Yeep!

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