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  Failing the Blogometer Test  
 
 
Posted 2005-04-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Communications commando Robin Good instructs his readers on how to gauge a blogger's popularity, reach, authority and credibility. Let's see how I stack up based on Good's criteria:

Technorati Standing: Technorati.com gives an idea of one's presence and profile in the blogosphere. Note that this excludes most non-blog sites. My Technorati profile is crap, but Technorati ain't perfect. I update the blog almost daily, but Technorati says the last update was 48 days ago. I give myself a 3/10 on the Technorati front.

Newsletter: Says Good "Newsletter circulation is an important indicator of visibility, experience and ability to create a loyal following." Well, sure. We can guess any of those things, or anything else, but we won't know for certain. I don't have a newsletter (that's what RSS feeds are for), so I give myself a 0/10 here.

Public Web Stats: Good says that if a person makes their traffic statistics publicly viewable, it's a "strong sign of transparency and credibility, and very few people so far have understood how effective and important it is to make this information visible." Except that traffic stats can be gamed. I don't make my stats public. One of the main reasons is that spammers bomb my stats in order to game their search-engine presence. So credibility has nothing to do with it. Besides which, what average reader knows what "hits" are as opposed to "unique visitors." No public stats: 0/10.

Google Search for Profile: Good says "Do some basic Google searches and see whether an official bio/profile exist for this person." In my estimation, a well-designed blog is constructed so that the bio/profile/about info is easy to find--no Google required. Usability aside, what are the criteria that designate an "official" bio? Is my bio "official?" Since I have no idea what consitutes "official," but I do have a bio, I'll give myself 5/10 here.

Search Engine Presence: Good suggests that you search for the blogger by name and compare results among different search engines. Let me point out that I share the same name as a realtor and a convicted child-molestor, and while I have a crapload of search-engine hits, that doesn't make me authoritative or popular. It means someone with my name has a lot of search-engine hits. I give myself 9/10 here because I'm the number one Google search result for my own name.

Cross-Reference the Blogger's Site via Marketleap: Says Good, Marketleap "allows you to calculate an average popularity score for any site...and to compare the site...with other similar ones..." How are we to know what sites are similar? What site is similar to my home site, Secretlair.com? No clue. I'll take a 5/10 here since the Marketleap results are meaningless without an educated context.

Cross-Reference Blog Topics With Hot Topics: Good says to use Blogpulse Trends and BlogPulse Conversation Tracker to gather some data relative to the popularity of the issues covered by the blogger. The problem is that these sites require you to know what a hot topic or trend is. Maybe your idea of a trend isn't the same as mine. All a lookup is going to tell you is that I don't cover your trend. Again, I'll take a 5/10 here because this is a fairly useless determination.

Covered by Local Media: "Check whether the person has been covered by local news media in her country," suggests Good. Dear God. Local media coverage is at best a great indicator of local popularity (at worst an indicator of how many friends you have in the local media), but popularity and authority do not go hand in hand. I know this well as I have, at times, been a local media-darling. I give myself an 8/10 here for being a media-whore, but by now you should know what that's really worth.

Covered by International Media: See above. I've been quoted in Canada, America, Australia, the U.K., but that doesn't prove I know what I'm talking about. It means I attract attention occasionally. I'll assign another 8/10 here.

So, here I am at a dicey 5/10 on average, measured against Robin Good's criteria. I think his methods have some uses, but not many. Imagine the time it would take to research those criteria for every blogger whose credibility and popularity you wanted to calculate. Is popularity even related to credibility? No, as evidenced by my millions-of-monthly-hits-generating Babies With Beards web site. Popularity can be assigned significance based on your knowledge of the entity in question... if you don't know anything about your subject, you can only guess as to the reasons for its popularity.

We are then left with credibility. And the best measurement for that, in my opinion, is the writing of the person you're scrutinizing. Take everything with a grain of salt, cross-reference factual statements, and you'll be able to figure out the credibility issue pretty quickly. It ain't rocket-science.
 
     
 
   
 
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