The Blogsphere Ecosystem

The Blogsphere Ecosystem

Well, everybody else has a “blogroll”, a “recommended” list, or some other such assemblage of links which guide their fair readers to other interesting spots around the blogosphere. Now I’ve joined the fun, and have created my Blogosphere Ecosystem list. (It’s on the left nav bar if you hadn’t noticed. Scroll down a bit).

I concluded I didn’t want to just put folks up alphabetically, but I also didn’t want to deal with the headaches of keeping track of who’s said nice things about me lately (thereby guaranteeing high placement) and who’s been pissing me off (whoops, was that link broken? My bad).

Therefore, I decided to try to develop a way to measure, somewhat more objectively, where the most “interesting” spots in the blogosphere were. One measure of doing this would be to capture who is being linked to by other bloggers the most. Easier said than done — but not impossible, as it turns out.

So, after a few days of screwing around with lots of different tools, I found a way to do it. The methodology, in a nutshell, is this: I started with a fairly large list of about 175 blogs; mostly, I stole from Instapundit and Vodkapundit’s lists, since they are pretty comprehensive, especially when taken together. Then, I built a process to do the following:

– Download the front page of each blog to my local machine
– Scan through each page and extract every link (URL) found in the HTML of the page
– For each of the original list of blogs, scan through the total link list and count how many links go to that blog
– Sort the list of blogs in descending order of their number of inbound links, and include the number in parentheses next to the blog link

There’s a bunch of gadgets involved to do all this, and way too much manual effort (at the moment). When I finish Part II of this little project (which will be even cooler, if I get it to work right), I’ll elaborate more on the process and tools used.

But for now, there it is. To further clarify, here’s a FAQ list:

I assume the list is absolutely perfect and has no errors in it, right?

Wrong. I’m pretty confident it is reasonably close, otherwise I wouldn’t be posting it. But I’m still working the bugs out, so some blogs might show up higher or lower than they would in a “perfect” list. If you see yours (or any other) looking way off, drop me a line and let me know. I’m officially classing this list / process as “beta” for the time being.

About this number of links thing. So are you like obsessed with finding out who is “the best” blogger ?

Nope. There’s tons of different ways to define “best” or “success” in the blogosphere. Some might say having lots of folks link to you is one of them, but there are plenty of others (and if you’re gauging your own blog’s success by any measure other than how much enjoyment it gives you, well, that way lies madness). I think it is interesting to measure links because it certainly shows what other people in the blogosphere think is interesting at a certain time, but I don’t think it necessarily tells us much about “best”.

Hey, I clicked on one of those links and it took me to the site’s home page, not the blog on that site. What gives?

That would be one of the little bugs that needs to get ironed out. Think of it as a feature for the moment. (The links work perfect for sites whose top-level page is the blog — i.e., anything hosted at blogspot, plus lots of others — but for the few blogs that are sitting on larger sites, you’ll get taken to the main page, not the blog).

So are you pounding the heck out of everybody’s blogs by spidering and screwing up their tracking statistics?

Nope. Finding a method which would involve the absolute minimum possible load hitting folks’ pages was a key goal. Every blog on the list is hit exactly once each time the process is run, to download the front page to my local machine. All other processing then occurs on the local copy. (And if anyone truly objects to that, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll take your blog off the list).

Does the process count all links between weblogs?

No. It only counts links that appear on the front page; so links that are older and are on your archive pages (or on any other pages of your site) won’t be included.

My blog isn’t on the list, and it’s way cooler than the ones that are. How do I get added?

Send me an email. I make no promises as to how fast you’ll get added, but I’ll try to have a reasonably short turnaround. Figure I’ll probably do an update batch once a week.

Are you going to update the list periodically, or was this a one-shot deal?

I’d like to update it at least weekly, to take the “pulse of the blogosphere”, so to speak. But we shall see. I’ve automated much of the processing so that hopefully it won’t be too painful, but it’s still got some manual work involved each time I run it, and adding blogs to the list is purely manual.

Anyway, hope folks find it interesting / entertaining, so enjoy…

PS – And in case anybody plans on getting their knickers in a twist about being called a “lowly insect” or one of the other, shall we say, “lesser” categories — look close and check out where I am at….