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September 28, 2006

Speaking of the Technorati Top 100...

You ever notice how few of Technorati's Top 100 blogs are actually personal blogs? By which I mean, a blog written by a single person, not for an employer or contractor, and about more than a single topic (i.e., not just tech/politics/marketing). There are damn few. Let me take the Top 25 to prove my point:

# 1. Engadget -- Pro blog, single topic

# 2. Boing Boing -- Group blog

# 3. 老徐 徐静蕾 新浪BLOG -- I have no idea what this blog is, I don't read Chinese

# 4. Gizmodo, The Gadget Guide -- Pro blog, single topic

# 5. The Huffington Post -- Group blog, single topic

# 6. Daily Kos: State of the Nation -- Group blog, single topic

# 7. Techcrunch -- Pro blog, group blog, single topic

# 8. PostSecret -- Single topic

# 9. Lifehacker, the Productivity and Software Guide -- Pro blog, group blog, single topic

# 10. Crooks and Liars -- Single topic

# 11. 燕西的互联网生活 燕西 博客屋 记录我们的生活 -- Another one I can't figure out since I can't read Chinese

# 12. Think Progress -- Single topic, group blog

# 13. Michelle Malkin -- Single topic

# 14. Gawker, Manhattan Media News and Gossip -- Pro blog, single topic

# 15. Autoblog -- Pro blog, single topic

# 16. Instapundit.com -- Single topic (mostly, occasionally forays into tech and books)

# 17. Official Google Blog -- Single topic, pro blog

# 18. with no name -- Another Chinese blog.

# 19. Blog di Beppe Grillo -- Italian blog, looks single topic

# 20. Scobleizer Tech Geek Blogger -- Single topic

# 21. A List Apart -- Single topic

# 22. Topix.net Weblog -- Single topic, pro blog

# 23. Seth's Blog -- Single topic

# 24. Explosm.net Flash Animations, Daily Comics, and more! -- Single topic

# 25. dooce -- personal blog

So, out of the top 25 blogs out there on the Tubes (and excluding the ones written in languages I can't even pretend to read) only one of them is written by a single person, not for a paycheck, and on whatever topic it is she wants to talk about (Update: In comments, Mitch Wagner points out that Heather Armstrong does get paid for Dooce.com. However, she's in business for herself, which is different than getting that paycheck from someone else. And she still writes about whatever she wants). In the rest of the top 100, there's only another three or four personal blogs, depending on whether you figure a photo blog is sufficiently varied not to be a single topic blog.

This suggests a number of things. One is that the blog world is already pretty damn corporatized and politicized, as 8 of the top 10 blogs are either paid blogs or political blogs, and one of the other two is also pretty politically active. This should not be news. Another is that if you want to crack the top 100 without writing on a single topic, especially politics or tech, it helps if you are a pretty girl, or someone whose online nickname has become a verb. Short of that, you're pretty much on your own. Yet another is that all your personal bloggers probably need to rethink the idea of making a whole lot of cash off your AdSense deal.

I don't think this dearth of personal blogging in the Technorati Top 100 is either good or bad; I know I read Engadget every day like a junkie so I can get my new tech fix, so even if I thought it were a problem (and I don't), I'm part of the problem. I do think it indicates that on the high end at least, the blog world is wildly different than its popular perception -- and that it doesn't look all that different from the "old media" it currently augments and may one day replace.

I also think that personal bloggers probably shouldn't try to crack the Top 100. Personal blogs may have inherently fewer links and possibly fewer readers (which is not the same, incidentally, as I know for a fact that I more readers than some blogs on the Technorati Top 100), but this doesn't make those blogs any less interesting. Speaking as a reader, I prefer reading blogs where a person goes all over the board on subjects, because as it turns out I read for the voice of blogger, not the topic.

I would be very sad to see the diversity of personal blogs thin out because people thought they weren't popular enough. The world really does have enough purely political blogs and tech blogs; there are never enough blogs that see the world from a personal point of view.

Posted by john at September 28, 2006 10:30 AM

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Mitch Wagner | September 28, 2006 11:32 AM

So, out of the top 25 blogs out there on the Tubes (and excluding the ones written in languages I can't even pretend to read) only one of them is written by a single person, not for a paycheck, and on whatever topic it is she wants to talk about.

You mean Dooce? She's a pro too.

John Scalzi | September 28, 2006 11:34 AM

Yeah, but she's paying herself.

rayyy | September 28, 2006 11:54 AM

I'd rather not read what "everyone else" is reading. Just thinking about some of the currently published stuff I'd have to read is truly painful.

It's a bit like buying a suit. You can get one off the peg and be just like "everyone else", or you can have one made to suit you.

Sadly I can't afford bespoke suits - but I have the (arguably) superior luxury of choosing what I read.

Brian Greenberg | September 28, 2006 11:54 AM

It doesn't surprise me that Technorati keeps such statistics, but I don't think they're the right stats to judge the growth and/or health of the blogosphere.

Engadget may be the most popular single blog about technology, but the combined power of the thousands of 10-20 reader blogs on the topic dwarfs it by orders of magnitude.

All these stats show is that the most corporatized/politicized portion of the blogosphere is corporatized & politicized. It completely ignores the long tail...

Stan | September 28, 2006 11:57 AM

Looking at the extremes isn't the only way to examine it. Another interesting question is how much total traffic goes to personal vs. political vs. commercial blogs. It might be that personal blogs still dominate through a much higher number blogs - but I really don't know. But, if so, the conception of blogs as personal rant/whine spaces is still true.

The concept of blog is fuzzy. If a site is essentially a specialized news site using blog software or format, is it really a blog?

TallDave | September 28, 2006 11:59 AM

One word:


It's what personal blogging is, today.

I wonder what blogging will look like in 5 years?

Chang | September 28, 2006 12:06 PM

You're not a pretty girl? Shoot, I am soooo outta here.

Ratings shamtings. In the post-BOAC era (Bacon On A Cat), liek you need to even worry about that. Just set back on your e-laurels (or is it iLaurels) and chow on Schadnefreude pie.

Jeff Hentosz | September 28, 2006 12:17 PM

It's what personal blogging is, today.
I wonder what blogging will look like in 5 years?

Well, since it's owned by News Corp., i.e., Rupert Murdoch, my guess would be something like a mashup between MTV and Hot Topic. With registered and moderated comments.

And I may be mistaken, but #11 above could be roughly translated as "Unite to Keep WalMart Off of Our Collective" Blog. Again, I may be wrong.

Ellen | September 28, 2006 12:18 PM

How about a pimp post? I can always use more interesting personal blogs; they're harder to find since, as you point out, they tend to have fewer readers and links.

Deanna Hoak | September 28, 2006 12:21 PM

Yeah, I've wondered about continuing to blog, honestly. The thing is, I think most people who come to my blog do so for the copyediting info, and if I don't want to talk about works in progress (for the most part I think it would be unprofessional to do so), there just isn't that much topic that I haven't covered.

So I don't know. For now it's a social connection still, and I enjoy it for that.

James Kew | September 28, 2006 12:40 PM

only one of them is written by a single person, not for a paycheck, and on whatever topic it is she wants to talk about

I think Scobleizer also qualifies -- Robert Scoble's personal blog, writes about whatever he wants to, not directly paying. (Arguably his blog does get him a lot of gigs, and he does use it to pimp his current paid work and his buddies in the business; but hey, that's also arguably true of the Whatever...)

Not that that distracts from your point, though: it is a very corporate list. (I suspect also that Boing Boing, behind its anarchist Creative Commons DRM-is-bad screw-the-RIAA mask, is a money-making machine: Happy Mutants LLC?)

PixelFish | September 28, 2006 12:55 PM

Hrm....I remember the top blogs from when I started blogging. (1998-1999, although my first site on GeoCities no longer exists, I think.) The A-list could generally be told by who got nominated for various categories on the Bloggies. And some of those bloggers have fallen by the wayside, some of those bloggers still blog with the same number of people viewing their site, give or take a couple hundred page views, and some, like Heather at Dooce, have vaulted up as the blogging audience altogether grew. Some of the A-list turned their personal blogs into group blogs (I'm pretty certain both Kos and BoingBoing started as personal blogs). Some of the blogging 'lite kept their blogs small, but sold the apps they used to make their blogs or started companies, a la Ben and Mena Trott, the founders of SixApart. And some of the A-list are still famousish, like Zeldman, but their blogs have turned more in the direction of single interest blogs about less scorching topics than politics. (Design in Zeldman's case, although knowing some designers that I work with, they can get as heated up over web standards as politics.)

In the mean time, the online audience grew, and when blogging entered the mainstream media and got mentioned regularly, it almost always seemed to circle around political blogs. (Either that, or getting fired for your personal blog, a la Dooce.)

I think it's just easier for people to bond over a single topic, rather than a variety of topics. After all, on a personal blog, the chances are that sooner or later, the proprieter is going to do something that you don't agree with with. Or maybe wax on about a hobby you have no interest in. Or discuss restaurants in a city you'll never visit. Or get a bee in their bonnet about a political issue that you find reprehensible. My interest in personal blogs has waxed and waned for a variety of reasons. On one blog I used to love, the funny, self-deprecating posts were gradually replaced with an obsession in war politics, in a position the anti-thesis of mine, and death metal music. After months of this, I lost interest, even in seeing a dissenting or different view, and wandered off.

Whereas on a blog dedicated to a single topic, you are already there because you have an interest in that topic. I'm always going to love books, and therefore blogs like Bookslut or Neil Gaiman's journal or your own site are probably going to have a decent longevity on my links list.

Ginny | September 28, 2006 12:55 PM

Rethink that Adsense deal? I make almost nothing off of Adsense, yet I have it for a very good reason!: The little bit that I actually make from it, pays for my site and hosting. That's it. But, it makes my site & hosting free, which makes me feel a lot less guilty about having an online toy that the rest of my family doesn't play with.

Larrybob | September 28, 2006 02:32 PM

Hey Whatever Friends,

So that we can all play along at home, can someone explain how we go about seeing the ranks of (non top100) blogs on technorati ? The stats that you folks have been comparing are interesting, I'd like to be able to look up some on my own.


Jennie | September 28, 2006 05:06 PM

Inbound links are sooooo 2004. Does anywhere track (is it even possible to track given the variety of readers) inbound RSS feeds?

Kevin Marks | September 28, 2006 06:11 PM

Well, by definition they are an unrepresentative sample - the top 100 does change fairly often - after all Engadget's 23,000 blog links is a tiny fraction of the 55 million blogs out there, and the 2,800 at the bottom of the top 100 is even fewer.
Number 3 is Xu Jinglei's blog, a personal blog by a well-known Chinese actress.
I'm not sure how single-topic the other blogs you mention are either - what they do tend to have in common is posting many times a day.
Larrybob: if you go to http://technorati.com/blog and put in a blog's URL, you'll see the current ranking and link counts. For example, info on my blog is http://technorati.com/blog/epeus.blogspot.com. (You can also see my low posting frequency 'cos I'm off commenting here instead).
Jennie: Well, tracking links is still interesting as it is a measure of posts that stirred up enough interest to warrant a response. Feedburner will track RSS feed reads for you, but the problem there is knowing if they have really been read, or just downloaded into a folder somewhere. One 2006 thing is tracking favourite blogs - the Most Favourited Blogs is a different list, with more personal blogs on, and even easier to get onto by having Technorati members add you to their favourites. (That's a link to favour our host here, btw).

Ginny | September 28, 2006 06:17 PM

I can tell how many times my rss feed is being accessed by checking my site's traffic stats, and I just found out that the rss feeds been accessed 529 times in the past week.

Not sure how to figure out how to transfer that into how many actual READERS I have through the rss feed though, because a lot of places (like Livejournal, for example) hit that rss feed for updates every couple of hours.

erin | September 28, 2006 06:54 PM

Amen, says one of those personal-type bloggers.


Jonathan | September 28, 2006 10:10 PM

Scalzi, that's why we love ya!

Jonathan | September 28, 2006 10:27 PM

Also John, FYI, you have some SPAM entries on your 'Agent to the Stars' guestbook.

Lisa | September 28, 2006 11:53 PM

I read some of those top blogs now and then, but mostly when I'm looking for specific information like more indepth analysis (and a little less CNN/Fox type analysis) on a news item. But I read much more personal blogs by far and more regularly. I think that the percentage of personal blogs read is much higher than the pro blogs, but that the "vote" is divided among several thousand (million?).

Okay, I think I just repeated what Stan said above, so ditto.

Smurf | September 29, 2006 04:11 PM

I have the top sports blog written by a 5 foot French person named after a blue elf. With the limits of my talent in mind, that's good enough for me.

Smurf | September 29, 2006 04:13 PM

#11 is "West west swallow's Internet life swallow the abundant reception room records our life" according to my Babel Fish.

nihiasebe | March 30, 2007 09:19 AM

nihiasebe i privet vam vsem

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