Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blognetnews AZ Blog Influence Ranking

Quite by accident I found myself at a Blognetnews ranking of Arizona political blogs "by influence." Now, I like the idea of such analysis and can appreciate keeping the algorithm unknown so it cannot be manipulated.

Let’s cut into the components we can safely correlate with the general concept of "influence."

First, traffic. How many people visit the blog how often? No traffic, no influence. Six figure hits a day, and we have influence. After learning traffic, the next cut is the nature of the visitors. Who visits? Elected officials? Local press? National press? A hit from a gamer in China doing a google search on "stupid gun" is not the same as a hit from a member of Congress. Is the blog read every day by reporters looking for stories?

Without visitor information, ranking is severely handicapped. Still, what makes a gifted statistician is not the person who gleans truth from all data desired, but from gleaning truth from imperfect, incomplete data. Lacking access to the platinum of traffic data, they still may have access to some gold and silver. Clearly they can count comments and number of individuals submitting them. While the correlation is without doubt positive, knowing its import is highly problematic with tremendous variation across content type. Vitriolic content on either fringe that solicits a fat thread of condemnation provides a juicy metric, but obviously the event influenced no one and nothing.

They can also research to the best of their ability the number of sites linking to a particular blog as well as the results of various google searches. Again we confront quantity versus quality. Some guy in Iran, based on a story months ago, links to my blog. I doubt the ranking takes this link into account (correctly!) as a factor in the blog’s political influence. However, do they know that CNN provided a link to this blog (I promise) at its main story on the resignation of Karl Rove?

All link are not created equal. I didn’t know about the CNN link until I looked at my traffic and saw people coming from CNN. I went to CNN’s piece about Rove, and my eyes almost left their sockets when I saw "Sustainability, Equity, Development" and a link to my "Switching Roles" story right there on a major CNN.com page.

I like the concept of what Blognetnews is doing and hope they continue. They do, however, at least in Arizona, need to address their methodology. First of all, whatever they are doing slants the results to the right. Even among the right, sorry Thinkright, there is NO WAY your blog carries the weight of Sonoran Alliance or Espresso Pundit. You may have a swell blog, but it is not the most influential political blog in the state of Arizona.

I consider the omission of Tedski’s RumRomanismRebellion, which generates extraordinary traffic, extraordinary commentary, and substantial discussion in the brick and mortar world to cement the assertion that something is off. The algorithm is flawed until it captures Tedski as a blogosphere force in Arizona.

Finally, the ranking seems slanted south beyond what is credible. Sure, Stacy’s in Maricopa, but look at the predominance of southern AZ blogs. They don’t know how to blog in Phoenix? Also, and very fatal, is that the comment counts, at least at my place, are incorrect. At the Stupid Googling story, 16 comments were submitted. They only show one. If the facts are not accurate, credibility is history.

I like what they are doing, but they need to correct some flaws.

Anyone reading this story is most welcome to shed further light.

9 Comments:

Blogger thinkright said...

The blognet ranking is a weekly rank. I don't know how it is determined, but it only ranks those blogs signed up with them.

RRR's old blog page is signed up, not the new one.
My posting the number on my blog is purely for entertainment.

8/17/2007 6:59 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...

TR,

Thanks. If they are handling all 50 states, I can see how they might fail to grab the new RRR. I'm not sure why the right-wing blogs rank so much better. Whatever their algorithm is, clearly your place sings its tune.

8/17/2007 9:21 AM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

Part of the algorithm _must_ be based on number of posts made per day. TR posts often, and for the last month or so you have as well. The Sonoran Alliance guys typically do the same.

8/17/2007 9:24 AM  
Blogger thinkright said...

I don't think it's the number of posts, maybe it's tied to linking articles.

SA gets twice the hits I do, but last week they didn't post.
Who knows, I honestly don't care...I'm just in this to save the AZ GOP.
TR

Hey X4MR, take off that word verification, it is lame.

8/17/2007 10:21 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...

TR,

Will get back to you about the word verification thing. I thought all blogs did it and wasn't paying attention.

Sirocco,

I completely agree with you that the algorithm significantly weighs posting frequency. If it were me, I would definitely make this a factor, but I think it's weight is excessive. I would also include comments, but again, not weighted.

To do it for REAL requires traffic information, but minus that, one could "steal" from Google rankings. For example, google both the site and the blogger's name(s) and count the results. I don't know enough about the Internet to know what quantitative data sets are available and what they contain.

To be a real pro, I would include some qualitative work as well to get a sense of the kind of stories, their quality, and the quality of the comments submitted to produce an index (or two or three) included with a given weight.

IMHO, a good story provides original content that is interesting, has educational value, and provides valuable links that either clarify, support/prove assertions, and provide the reader easy access to additional material.

The occasional outburst of seething rage may not fit the above, but, hey, it's my blog. Also, as the doctor has noted, I do have a sense of humor.

I STILL crack up from time to time when I think of the doctor standing up in that computer lab, and maybe others didn't, but I laughed hysterically on several occasions, full blown stomach hurting funny, at the stupid googling post. When the navigator called anon an idiot, I lost it.

8/17/2007 12:25 PM  
Blogger Framer said...

I believe that I have cracked the "Influence Index." It is, I believe, at least partially related to someone visiting a blog THROUGH the blog net news site. If users navigate to your site through Blog Net News, you get better status on their ranking.

Obviously this is going to favor new sites or growing sites more than "tried and true" sites who are already bookmarked on a users computer. I bet most RRR readers have never heard of BlogNetNews.

If BlogNetNews takes off, it is likely to get more accurate.

I generally look at the authority rankings on http://technorati.com/ as being pretty accurate.

8/17/2007 10:21 PM  
Anonymous David Mastio said...

Thanks for the tips on RRR. Don't know how we managed to miss that change from blogspot.

8/18/2007 5:26 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

Yeah, I recall having an image of the professor standing up and looking around the computer lab, trying to figure out where the spy cameras were. It still cracks a big grin on my face thinking about it. :)

8/18/2007 7:13 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Framer,

I concur that technorati is one of the better sources available.

David,

I checked out your place and either I don't understand or lots of information is completely incorrect. One page seemed to be indicating which blogs linked to which, and the count listed zero for lots of sites that are not zero at all. For example, I can think of at least a dozen sites, including mine, that link to Framer. Many, including TR, Framer, and Sonoran, link here. Yet none are listed.

I like the concept, but you guys have some work to do.

Yeah, Sirocco, if there isn't some fun in the process...

8/18/2007 8:39 PM  

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