“Blogging is the fastest growing form of content on the Web,” said Jim Lanzone, senior vice president of search at AskJeeves, a unit of IAC/InterActiveCorp and a major Web search site. “But the number of sites that really matter is narrow.”
“The rest of the sites are like a tree falling in the forest,” he said.
Just 60 sites are “hot,” defined as attracting more than 5,000 subscriber links, Lanzone said.
Sites that attract 1,000 or more subscriber links number only 437, according to AskJeeves’ Bloglines, the most popular system among Web users for actively monitoring other sites.
First, I’ve got to ask what a “subscriber link” is. Is it simply one blog linking to another? Or is it one blog subscribing to the feed of another? Yoking the two terms together makes things terribly murky if you ask me.
Technorati lists only 91 links to my site which makes Tikun Olam…a dead tree. What’s more, I’m the opposite of hot. Ouch! The thousands of hours I’ve put into this enterprise and it’s all for naught according to Jim Lanzone (1* see Update below). Tikun Olam doesn’t ‘really matter.’ How will I ever recover?
Then, the Reuters reporter totally muddies the water by introducing a new set of statistics generated by Bloglines:
Syndicated sites that “really matter” — classified as sites that have at least 20 other sites linking to them— number 36,930, according to September data from Bloglines.
Ah, what a relief. I may not matter according to Jim Lanzone but I do “really matter” according to Bloglines. What a relief! Again, in the italicized phrase you see the confusion lingering over whether Auchard’s talking about someone subscribing to a site using RSS (“syndication”) or whether he’s referring to incoming links to a site.
Seriously, I think most of us to whom our blogs are important personal expressions, but who don’t generate high levels of traffic, ponder issues of obscurity and irrelevance. Lately, my site traffic has grown significantly to 700 unique hits per day. But if you remove visitors coming merely to view your images and you focus on real people who came to read a post, that reduces your traffic considerably. Is it worth spending 30-60 minutes writing about a subject that’s important to you even if it will have minimal impact on your fellow bloggers let alone the world?
Well, I’ve answered that question by writing this haven’t I? When I first started writing my blog I likened bloggers to poor writers penning their novels in total obscurity (think Kafka or any number of other immortals who began as literary nobodies). At the time of their writing, no one understood the power and majesty of what they would create. Now, the world does. Was it worth the author’s journey through poverty and obscurity to create a work of genius that will enrich the world for eternity? Hell yes.
I don’t mean to equate Tikun Olam with The Castle. But I do think I have something to say. I hope that by continuing to write I will find a wider audience that will understand the importance of what I’m trying to do. But just because Jim Lanzone says I’m a nobody doesn’t mean I’m going to pack up and move on.
Thanks to Mediachannel.org for bringing this story to my attention. Hey, Media Channel–you do “really matter” and I proved it with a link!
- 1 ♠UPDATE
In a comment below, Jason pointed me to Jim Lanzone’s Ask Jeeves blog post on his talk at the Web 2.0 conference. It appears that Jim was not the cause of the confusion. That credit must go, I’m afraid, to Eric Auchard who wrote the Reuters article .
In his post, Jim makes clear he was not talking about incoming links, but rather about actual subscribers using an RSS feed. He also makes clear that he wasn’t claiming that BLOGS with few subscribers didn’t matter. He was claiming the FEEDS didn’t matter. While I think the distinction is a bit too subtle to grasp easily, I do think it’s important to note that Jim was not telling us obscure bloggers out there that we and our blogs don’t matter. In fact, I rather like what he said on this score:
Eric and I discussed at length the “butterfly effect” that I believe gives any blog the ability to “matter” to other people, which makes the blogosphere different from other media. This did not make it into his article. If one blogger says something interesting, no matter how small his audience, that blog can reach a larger audience through other bloggers linking to it and discussing it. This is partly what makes the blogosphere special…
But all this being said, I still take issue with Jim on a few points. If you really want to find out whether a blog matters, you need to consider how many other sites are linking to it (indeed this is roughly what he says above). I can understand why Langzone uses Bloglines’ statistics to define how many blog feeds “matter,” but this misses the point that there are now many outlets where you can subscribe to blog feeds besides Bloglines. If you really want to measure whether a feed matters shouldn’t you make some kind of effort to find out globally (rather than only through your own company’s statistics) how many subscribers a blog has?
Jason Truesdell says
I think that the “subscriber link” count is based on what bloglines.com registered users subscribe to. Bloglines publishes how many of its users subscribe to a particular blog using the BlogLines aggregation service… This, of course, doesn’t count other aggregation services, such as FeedBurner, IntraVNews (Outlook-based), my.yahoo.com or my.msn.com, or other web-based aggregators.
Richard Silverstein says
Jason: You very well may be right. But this language in the article is awfully imprecise & prone to a diff. interpretation:
“Syndicated sites that “really matter” — classified as sites that have at least 20 other sites linking to them — number 36,930, according to September data from Bloglines.”
Besides, there are so many other ways to subscribe to blogs (WP has its own plugins allowing for this for instance) than just using Bloglines. How could you possibly figure out (even if you wanted to) how many people total are subscribing to you?
I also don’t think actual subscribers should be the only criteria to determine whether a blog “matters.” Another criteria should be how many incoming links you have as this indicates how valuable your fellow bloggers find you.
Jason Baim says
Yeah it doesn’t seem like the Reuters writer even understands what he’s talking about. I read the explanation on the Ask Jeeves blog (blog.ask.com) and they don’t seem to be saying they think blogs don’t matter. Something was lost in translation here.