Prelimenary results from Blogroll Ranking

Who are the influential bloggers? Which blogs matter? What metrics would you use to even begin to answer these questions?

I’ve been exploring alternate methods of ranking in the past months. The best results are coming from examining Blogrolls. When you think about it, blogrolls compromise the links in a huge implicit trust network. For now I’m calling the calculated score “PeopleRank”. It’s kinda like PageRank, in that blogroll links from higher PeopleRank-ed blogs count more. E.g. if Om Malik has you on his blogroll, that counts a lot more for your ranking than the blogroll of your niece on Livejournal. (No offense to your niece.)

So here are the top 50 blogs as ranked by the preliminary algorithm: (Commentary and caveats follow)

Blog Name URL People Rank Blogroll Count
TechCrunch (Arrington & Friends) http://www.techcrunch.com/ 16.88550 74
Fred Wilson http://www.avc.blogs.com 13.65663 59
Om Malik http://www.gigaom.com/ 10.90295 51
Subscribe to Posts (RSS) http://feeds.feedburner.com/ 10.35721 58
Battelle, John http://www.battellemedia.com/ 9.43316 36
kottke http://www.kottke.org/ 9.30745 23
Micro Persuasion http://www.micropersuasion.com/ 9.05083 35
dooce http://www.dooce.com/ 8.75597 24
CNNMoney.com http://money.cnn.com/ 8.24951 14
Advertise on this blog http://money.cnn.com/services/mediakit/ 8.24951 14
Creating Passionate Users http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/ 8.05627 51
Instapundit http://www.instapundit.com/ 8.01555 30
Brad Feld – Feld Thoughts http://www.feld.com/blog/ 7.76376 57
BuzzMachine http://www.buzzmachine.com/ 7.68799 31
Seth’s Blog http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/ 7.64178 44
Full Content http://www.gizmodo.com/index.xml 7.39462 10
Comments http://www.gizmodo.com/xml/comments 7.39462 10
How to Change the World http://blog.guykawasaki.com/ 7.36782 39
Read/WriteWeb http://www.readwriteweb.com/ 7.32572 27
Canuckflack http://www.canuckflack.com/ 7.25962 11
Slashdot http://www.slashdot.org/ 7.22526 32
Gizmodo http://www.gizmodo.com/ 7.22314 19
Movable Type http://www.movabletype.org/ 6.92314 15
David Jones/PR Works http://www.prworks.ca/ 6.67162 11
GestureBank http://blogs.zdnet.com/ 6.61738 20
Hugh Macleod http://www.gapingvoid.com/ 6.58896 19
Michelle Malkin http://www.michellemalkin.com/ 6.53256 28
New World Notes http://secondlife.blogs.com 6.47961 6
Bad Astronomy http://www.badastronomy.com/ 6.34440 9
Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/ 6.30786 23
James Governor http://www.redmonk.com/jgovernor/ 6.11552 23
Three Kid Circus http://www.threekidcircus.com/threekidcircus/ 6.10842 109
Sweetney http://www.sweetney.com/ 6.08445 107
Rain City Real Estate Guide http://www.raincityguide.com/ 6.06087 11
Fussy http://www.fussy.org/ 6.00416 16
SpiffyJapan http://www.spiffyjapan.com/ 5.97301 5
Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer http://employerslawyer.blogspot.com 5.95257 7
VentureBlog http://www.ventureblog.com/ 5.91916 24
Joho the Blog http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/ 5.85586 23
Jeneane Sessum – Allied http://allied.blogspot.com 5.73544 91
Her Bad Mother http://www.badladies.blogspot.com 5.73306 108
George’s Emplt http://www.employmentblawg.com/ 5.71551 7
B.L. Ochman's Weblog http://www.whatsnextblog.com/ 5.69226 11
Captain's Quarters http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/ 5.65295 28
Techdirt (Mike Maznick) http://www.techdirt.com/ 5.64693 21
Venture Chronicles http://jeffnolan.com/wp/ 5.63134 33
This Blog Sits at the http://www.cultureby.com/trilogy/ 5.50986 9
Shel Holtz http://blog.holtz.com/ 5.49340 10

Caveats of this calculation:

  • Results with ~5K blogs crawled.
  • Blogroll Count = Number of blogrolls this blog appears on = How many people publicly admit to reading this blog.
  • The interesting datapoints are where the PeopleRank ordering puts a blog higher in the list than one with a higher blogroll count — those fewer subscribers must be “more important”.
  • This crawl took Lijit user blogs as the starting seeds giving an overall tech bias.
  • However, there was a period when the crawler went unchecked into what can only be called “The Mommy-o-sphere” so there is an over representation of Mom-blogs in teh dataset.
  • Our blogroll detector algorithm still gets false positives, thus the high rank for “Subscribe to Feedburner” and the multiple ColoradoStartups.com listings.
  • Some blogs use a Blogrolling widget for a “Web Ring” functionality, thus erroneously appearing as blogrolls. This explains most of the 100+ blogroll counts.
  • We need better de-duping. Several blogs appeared until multiple URL’s, reducing the overall score.

So how is this different from existing rankings? Til now, the most common methods have fallen into one of two camps:

  1. Number of subscribers. I.e. a pure democracy. Use some combination of Feedburner (for RSS readers) and some web analytics (for web readers) to count the raw number of people reading a blog.
  2. Raw number of incoming links (citations). This is similar, except that links are counted instead of subscribers.

Note that neither method discriminates between the blogs “casting the votes”. It doesn’t matter if that 24th reader of your blog happens to be Scoble. Nor does it matter if those 3 citations to your blog in the last month (Technorati defines this as “very low authority”) came from Seth Godin, Fred Wilson, and Guy Kawasaki.

Initial results are encouraging, and I hope to do more analysis this week. What do you think? If you have any suggestions or ideas, please get in touch with me.

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7 Responses to “Prelimenary results from Blogroll Ranking”

  1. Dustin Says:

    There must be something wrong with your methodology! I’ve never had Rain City Guide put in the same list as so many great bloggers! :) Nonetheless, I’m flattered and would definitely be interested to know a bit more about what went into your PeopleRank algorithm.

    Do you expect the results to change substantially when you add more blogs?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Blogroll is an irrelevant metric ’cause:
    1. They are biased
    2. Updated infrequently or never
    3. Blogs by themselves don’t matter the most. It is the individual post that drives a user to the site.

    Yours is just another attempt to promote Technorati top 100. People who have the ability to look and search beyond these blogs will succeed. Others are mere spectators.

  3. Ben Casnocha Says:

    Awesome! This is one of those things that makes total sense after the fact — “duh” — but no one had done it yet! I look forward to seeing how the list changes as the exploration evolves…

  4. stan Says:

    1. Bias is exactly what you want from a metric like this: you want what the individual idiosyncrasies of each person to shine through.

    2. Most blogrolls seem to be connected to someone’s feed reader. Mine is connected Bloglines, many others use Newgator or such. In these cases, it correctly shows which blogs a blogger is regularly reading. I’d argue that’s something very important. E.g. there are many blogs I read but don’t link to in my posts. By Technorati’s standards I contribute nothing to their rank.

    3. Your assuming that “driving a user to the site” is what matters. What I’m trying to get at is not “who gets the most traffic” but rather “who are the key influencers.” E.g. If a blog has only 3 regular readers, but those readers each write blogs with audiences of millions, then that first blog is certainly important.

    Not sure what you mean about trying to promote Technorati. One of the main motivators for this experiment was dissatisfaction with their narrow definition of authority.

    I agree that the key is to look beyond these top blogs. This is a first step into a new way of ranking blogs, and one which is very conducive to identifying experts within given domains. That’s when things will really get interesting!

  5. stan Says:

    Like I said, it’s beta. :)

    Looks like you showed up on the blogrolls of several well connected bloggers in my limited sample.

    Savor your high ranking while you can!

  6. Jenny Lauck Says:

    As one of the representative mom-bloggers from your dataset, I find my appearance on this list baffling, yet enthralling. Now, to figure out how to wield this newly discovered importance.

    Heh.

  7. Robert C Robey Says:

    Could you please explain me the meaning of ‘APPALSHOP’