10 October 2007

The fairest bloggers of them all

I really don't approve of this post - blogging is not a competitive sport, but let's go for it.

Tartan Hero recently published a list of the foremost Scottish political bloggers. As far as I can determine, his league table was not based on objective criteria (but it was none the worse for that). I have been musing on how to introduce an element of rationality into the assessment.

The most obvious criterion is website traffic. But different bloggers use different site counters which are not always comparable and, anyway, the data are not universally available. Furthermore, the availability of blog feeds means that it is not always necessary to access a blogsite to read the posts. For example, I religiously read every post that Doctor Vee puts up (except of course the boring stuff about motor racing), but I seldom actually access his website. The same applies to the blogsites of Mr Eugenides and Clairwil (and indeed that of Tartan Hero, as well as many others). Obsessives may wish to note that Doctor Vee recently posted [Sorry - unable to trace the post] about the issue of whether bloggers should make available the whole or part of their posts to blogfeeds - this is interesting but not strictly relevant to today's issue.

I use Bloglines as my feed; there are other feeds which I have no doubt are equally effective. One of the features of Bloglines is that - for each blog - it records the number of individuals who have subscribed to receive notification of posts on that blog. Accordingly, the number of subscriptions for a blog provides a (proxy) measurement of the popularity of that blog - at least among the cognoscenti who subscribe to feeds.

I have therefore compiled the following league table of Scottish political bloggers based on this measurement. I should stress, first of all, that this is only based on Bloglines data - but I have no reason to suppose that other feeds would offer a wildly different result. Nor does it mean that a blog with a large number of subscriptions is necessarily better than any other blog with fewer subscriptions. And blogs which appeal to the wider public not au fait with blog feeds are obviously disadvantaged by this method.

Nevertheless, for what it is worth, here goes:

Blog Subscriptions

1. Mr Eugenides 45
1. Shuggy's Blog 45
3. Blether with Brian 32
4. A Big Stick and a Small Carrot 29
5. Doctor Vee 27
6. Freedom and Whisky 24
7. Rolled-up Trousers 20
8. Tartan Hero 13
9. Clairwil 12
9. Holyrood Chronicles 12
11. Edinburgh Sucks 11
12. J Arthur MacNumpty 10
13. A Place to Stand 9
13. Scottish Futures 9
15. Scottish Roundup 8
16. 1820 7
17. North to Leith 6
17. SNP Tactical Voting 6
19. BellgroveBelle 5
19. Havering On 5
19. Reactionary Snob 5
19. TerryWatch 5

A plea - don't take it too seriously. This list is only marginally less arbitrary than than that of TH. And there are no doubt technical reasons why it is not wholly valid.


doctorvee said...

In case anyone's interested, the post I wrote about RSS feeds is here.

I recently switched my feed over to Feedburner. Using a WordPress plugin it scooped up all the readers of the old feeds (although I have reason to believe that this hasn't quite worked 100%). Feedburner's stats give you an estimate of total readers based on figures from a whole range of RSS readers like Bloglines, Google Reader, etc. The problem is, of course, that not everybody uses Feedburner.

One possible problem with your methodology is the fact that some blogs offer several similar but subtly different feeds. For instance, before I used Feedburner you could get a feed of my blog by going to any of /feed/, /feed/rss/, /feed/atom/, wp-rss.php, wp-rss2.php, wp-rdf.php or wp-atom.php. Blogger, meanwhile, only provides one feed (as far as I know), so WordPress users will be disadvantaged compared to Blogger users (not that I'm trying to increase my position or anything!).

Another good (but, of course, little less arbitrary) method is to use blog reactions as measured by Technorati. But Technorati is pretty unreliable. (A quick check, and there are some blogs that just do not show up on it, for technical reasons presumably.)

BellgroveBelle said...

People subscribe to my blog? I'm stunned!

Mr Eugenides said...

I'm quite flattered by that statistic. Make that very flattered.

Will someone reading this subscribe to my feed so we can relegate Shuggy to second place, where he belongs? ;-)