Sunday, August 11, 2013

1,259,997-way tie for last

Honestly, I'd forgotten all about Technorati.  Back in 2007, a friend suggested I create a Technorati profile, and so I did.  For a while I watched closely for signs that I was rising in the ranks.  Sure enough, I soon reached a Technorati authority of ... two.  At the time, there were several million blogs listed on Technorati, and that was enough to lift me out of the bottom million or so.  Eventually the link that had lifted me to authority two fell away and I was back at the bottom.  Sic transit gloria mundi.

In 2010 I removed the Technorati widget in favor of something else, which has since been itself replaced  (I now have the usual suspects: email, Blogger, Twitter, FB and g+).  And then I forgot all about it.  At one point, I thought, I'd heard that Technorati had been acquired or shut down or such.  More on that in a bit.

Looking through a search for what links to Field Notes (not very much at all), I saw that it was still listed on Technorati, which, of course, meant that Technorati was in fact still around.  Even more surprising, Field Notes had rocketed up to a rank of 71,375 out of 1,331,372, with an authority of ... one.  As I said on the other blog, I don't put that much stock in ranking statistics, but ... interesting.

Hmm ... I thought.  There must be a lot of blogs with authority zero below a bunch of blogs with authority one.  But no.  There are lots and lots of blogs with authority one.  Everyone from 71,375th place on down.  That's one long tail.

I did a little binary searching.  The rank of  71,375 first appears in the middle of page 2885, with 25 listings to a page.  I make it to actually be 72,145, but maybe I missed something.  Right before the rank 71,375 blogs start is a block of rank 57,611 blogs with authority ... 79.  So basically rank one is "we have no idea who you are and no one else seems to", and 79 means "you're in our universe, but at the bottom".

What changed from the "number of blogs linking to yours in the last six months?" days? Actually, the half-rumor in the back of my head about Technorati's acquisition or demise was really my misremembering that they'd done a redesign sometime in 2009.  They changed their look a bit, but they also changed how authority was calculated.  Instead of being a count of links in the past six months, it was a number assigned from 1 to 1000 based on link activity in the past month.  This change was designed to make Technorati more responsive to trends in the blogosphere.  Presumably, recent activity is weighted more heavily in the calculation.

This fits with the rankings I found.  Evidently, almost all of the blogs in the Technorati database are islands unto themselves, and Technorati only tracks about 70,000 blogs in any meaningful way.

Hey, I don't really care.  I've made myself immune to the vagaries of blog ranking entities by the simple expedient of not making any money off this blog and instead being happy that people read it at all.  Amateur status has to be good for something hasn't it?  But it does seem a bit underwhelming that a site that claims to be keeping its finger on the pulse of a millions-strong blogosphere really just seems to be tracking how a much smaller number of blogs, many of them already well-known major players, point at each other.

Considered as a portal into a collection of blogs, with an entertaining front page and "what's hot" listings, Technorati seems fine, but as a measure of where a particular blog is in the world, not so much.  For that, I'd probably turn to Alexa.  Field Notes is #28,898,459 there, out of "over 30 million websites" (not just blogs).  That I can believe.

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