Top 100 – what does it mean?

by Lee Hopkins on December 1, 2007 · 8 comments

in Uncategorized

There are almost as many Top 100 blog lists as there are centimetres around my girth.

adage's top 150 advertising/marketing/pr blogs Of particular interest to me as a business communication consultant are those blogs that revolve around either my industry or my location — based on the logic of ‘how can I advise my clients effectively if I cannot get myself positioned appropriately in either two realms?’

blogpond's top 100 list

Meg Tsiamis and I have been chatting about how to more accurately reflect the top aussie blogs in light of the difficulties Meg has in compiling the list.

I have a lot more subscribers than some of the other top 100 blogs, but continue to fall outside the top 100. Huh? Surely subscriber numbers should be weighted higher than currently are? They are, after all, a reflection of ’stickiness’.

Meg agrees. As she says,

I agree that subscribers are a very important measure of a blog’s success, if not the most important and I have expressed my frustration at this.

The one problem that I have is that not everybody uses FeedBurner, which means that the list would be restricted to those that do (and those who make that number visible). That would exclude a lot of people.

I have considered putting an addition onto the list for “other highly subscribed blogs” (or words to that effect), what do you think?

I guess my biggest ‘beef’ is with the ‘Top 100′ tag. There is no doubt that some of them aren’t in reality in the top 100; perhaps another table, positioned higher on the page than the top 100 (after all, who scrolls down even further to read another table after scrolling down a long list already?) of those blogs who have declared their subscriber numbers?

This isn’t such a burden to blog owners as it might first appear, as Feedburner has introduced a really cool app called FeedBurner FeedSmith that will take all and every subscriber to your blog, no matter which feed they take it from, and deliver the numbers. It means that the numbers fluctuate more than usual, but it means that no subscriber is left out, no matter where your feed originally comes from.

Says the app’s author, Steve Smith:

The plugin will detect all ways to access your feed (e.g. http://www.yoursite.com/feed/ or http://www.yoursite.com/wp-rss2.php, etc.), and redirect them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber. It will forward for your main posts feed, and optionally your main comments feed as well.

The downside of FeedSmith is that it is currently only for WordPress blogs; and yes, that is a big downside. But hopefully an app for the other platforms will arrive shortly.

And with regard to subscriber numbers, I would have thought it important in this age of trust, transparency, truth and accountability that bloggers publish their subscriber/circulation numbers. After all, magazines and newspapers have to.

Perhaps, Meg, you can strongly suggest to your list that they disclose their subscriber numbers.

What does the community think?

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Currently listening to: Tom Waits – ‘Small Change’

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  • http://blogpond.com.au/ Meg

    Hi Lee

    I attempted to link through to my most recent discussion, on your previous post. Hope it works this time.

    It comes down to a) how does one define a “top” blog, and b) how does one quantify that?

    Certainly the presence of a large subscriber base indicates the reach and popularity of a blog. But then so do citations (eg Technorati rank or authority – but this is also problematic), and traffic. Some blogs might cater to an audience that hasn’t yet embraced RSS technology, and yet the readers will visit the site daily.

    I know of a blog that has upwards of a hundred comments each post, and yet fails to “qualify” for the top list. I don’t know what the subscriber numbers are, but surely that’s a signal of a popular blog? But that kind of information is very difficult to easily quantify (and put in a formula).

    Other blogs are informational/instructional in nature and consequently have a lot of search engine traffic, but perhaps less subscribers and less “community”.

    The aim of the list was to determine what is popular with Australians, which is why it is weighted by the Australian Alexa rank – so that Aussies can find blogs that are popular with other Aussies. e.g. An “Australian” blog in a foreign language might be very popular overseas, which thousands of subscribers, but would have little value to your average Australian.

    Certainly your idea of a “top” blog and mine would more than likely differ. We have different interests, so it stands to reason. I’m not into cooking, cars or gardening, but that’s not to say that others aren’t and that they’re less popular or less worthy of being on a top list.

    At present subscriber counts are not factored into the formula at all. They have no weighting. I include them merely as an indicator. I have considered getting the reader numbers from Google (as an indication of total subscriber count), but the discrepancies between blogs are just too great.

    I’ll take on board what you say about having two lists, one for bloggers who provide rss counts (which is roughly around 30%) and another for those who don’t. I’ll be interested in any feedback from your community.

    It takes me the best part of a day each fortnight to run through the calculations and compile the list. For that time sort of time commitment, I do want the list to have as much credibility and value as possible.

  • http://blogpond.com.au Meg

    Hi Lee

    I attempted to link through to my most recent discussion, on your previous post. Hope it works this time.

    It comes down to a) how does one define a “top” blog, and b) how does one quantify that?

    Certainly the presence of a large subscriber base indicates the reach and popularity of a blog. But then so do citations (eg Technorati rank or authority – but this is also problematic), and traffic. Some blogs might cater to an audience that hasn’t yet embraced RSS technology, and yet the readers will visit the site daily.

    I know of a blog that has upwards of a hundred comments each post, and yet fails to “qualify” for the top list. I don’t know what the subscriber numbers are, but surely that’s a signal of a popular blog? But that kind of information is very difficult to easily quantify (and put in a formula).

    Other blogs are informational/instructional in nature and consequently have a lot of search engine traffic, but perhaps less subscribers and less “community”.

    The aim of the list was to determine what is popular with Australians, which is why it is weighted by the Australian Alexa rank – so that Aussies can find blogs that are popular with other Aussies. e.g. An “Australian” blog in a foreign language might be very popular overseas, which thousands of subscribers, but would have little value to your average Australian.

    Certainly your idea of a “top” blog and mine would more than likely differ. We have different interests, so it stands to reason. I’m not into cooking, cars or gardening, but that’s not to say that others aren’t and that they’re less popular or less worthy of being on a top list.

    At present subscriber counts are not factored into the formula at all. They have no weighting. I include them merely as an indicator. I have considered getting the reader numbers from Google (as an indication of total subscriber count), but the discrepancies between blogs are just too great.

    I’ll take on board what you say about having two lists, one for bloggers who provide rss counts (which is roughly around 30%) and another for those who don’t. I’ll be interested in any feedback from your community.

    It takes me the best part of a day each fortnight to run through the calculations and compile the list. For that time sort of time commitment, I do want the list to have as much credibility and value as possible.

  • http://www.sueblimely.com/ Sueblimely

    Hi Lee

    Being in the top 100 myself, I am happy with the way the top 100 list works:-) How many of the 100 comments per post you mention have come from Australian bloggers I wonder? That is impossible to quantify automatically. Blogs that attract a lot of non bloggers are likely to attract less comments too.

    It is not too hard to artificially boost subscription count and if this were used as a major measure of a blogs popularity I am sure the unethical element of the blogosphere would be doing this more.

    As a blogger myself I am aware of subscribing to blogs I like to give some link-love. Prior to this I would be far more likely to read blogs on the net rather than subscribe. I still do read my favorite blogs on the net rather than through feed readers. Subscriber numbers do not necessarily reflect the number of readers.

    Saying all this it is unfortunate you are not in the top 100 – I think you deserve it more than I do.

  • http://www.sueblimely.com Sueblimely

    Hi Lee

    Being in the top 100 myself, I am happy with the way the top 100 list works:-) How many of the 100 comments per post you mention have come from Australian bloggers I wonder? That is impossible to quantify automatically. Blogs that attract a lot of non bloggers are likely to attract less comments too.

    It is not too hard to artificially boost subscription count and if this were used as a major measure of a blogs popularity I am sure the unethical element of the blogosphere would be doing this more.

    As a blogger myself I am aware of subscribing to blogs I like to give some link-love. Prior to this I would be far more likely to read blogs on the net rather than subscribe. I still do read my favorite blogs on the net rather than through feed readers. Subscriber numbers do not necessarily reflect the number of readers.

    Saying all this it is unfortunate you are not in the top 100 – I think you deserve it more than I do.

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    G’day Sue and Meg,

    This is indeed a vexed question (and yes, Meg, I have read your recent post about it all and agree with many of your commenters, including those who are bemused by their ranking).

    I guess what irks me is that the list is proclaimed as the Top 100, not *a* top 100.

    I know it is NOT you proclaiming it so, but any reasonable person would make that assumptive leap.

    I don’t know what the answer is, either. It’s a bugger! :-)

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee Hopkins

    G’day Sue and Meg,

    This is indeed a vexed question (and yes, Meg, I have read your recent post about it all and agree with many of your commenters, including those who are bemused by their ranking).

    I guess what irks me is that the list is proclaimed as the Top 100, not *a* top 100.

    I know it is NOT you proclaiming it so, but any reasonable person would make that assumptive leap.

    I don’t know what the answer is, either. It’s a bugger! :-)

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