December 30, 2007

Meaningless Exercise in Ranking VoIP Blogs

Periodically somebody or other publishes their list of blogs focused on VoIP. Originally Jeff Pulver used to publish one which used to be very inclusive. You just have to inform him for your blog to be included in that list. Then last year Garrett Smith published a more restrictive list containing only 30 blogs to which Luca Fillighedu posted a response. But both of them have been lost to the archives. Subsequently, Alec Saunders published a very expansive list, but raked them based on a site that computed “the juice” of a blog, which is a function of the number of subscribers in Bloglines, Alexa ranking, Technorati ranking and the number of incoming links. This is supposed to be more scientific, probably because it uses a mathematical formula and takes input from multiple seemingly independent sources. Then this year VoIP-News published a list of 25 blogs that they deem to be “loudest and most influential”. It is not clear they intend the list to be an ordered list; but it is apparent that at least some of the honored bloggers think so. Interestingly they do not identify their criteria for selecting this set of blogs. But it is an interesting exercise to see their ranks, according to the juice calculator.

This is not sour grapes. But it goes against the basic idea of blogs – being long tail. Each post is a point in the long tail and the whole technology – feeds, tags, feed readers and search engines – allow each entry to contribute to our collective understanding. So why this fascination about ranks – are we reverting back to our childhood days?

Update: Pat in an email exchange subsequent to his comment expressed his disappointment that "new and interesting guys were left out, I couldn’t believe no phoneboy and what about Vinay (3.3)/Markus Gobbel (1.8)." Mea culpa. When I generated the juice count for different blogs, I planned to only include Alec's list and the new 25 list to suggest that a different measure may generate a different list. I should have added the new bloggers as well, especially those that are in my feed list. I think I inadvertently reinforced my original point that any list however expansive will omit some "gems". My point was gems are individual posts and here I omitted blogs altogether. But if anyone took my list as an ordered list, I failed to establish my point. :-)

Posted by aswath at December 30, 2007 11:10 PM
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Thanks Aswath
I'm glad somebody said it, more link love than a list a dedicated list.

Posted by: pat phelan at December 31, 2007 04:21 AM

Aswath, as a creator of a list, I can say that it is not an easy task. My ranking system was based on a bunch of different factors, but it was mainly based on who has the most influence within the industry.

With this being said, I can tell you that those who were not on the list are probably not well known outside of the "inner-circle" of our industry.

Lists are often popularity contests and those that appear on the list are some of the more visible folks at every conference, expo and event within the industry. Being a popular or top blogger, I believe is not just about your thoughts and writings, but about how you brand and market yourself, what your job is, the company that you work for, how long you have been in the industry, how many friends you have and who you know.

The folks who are always mentioned and are always at the top are all well known, have influencial friends and have been here for a long while.

How does it is not what you know, but who you know that counts in life?

Posted by: Garrett Smith at December 31, 2007 10:09 AM

How does it is not what you know, but who you know that counts in life?You are right, what was I thinking.

Posted by: Jesmi at January 1, 2008 12:31 AM

Thanks for you clear and concise explanation Garrett, telephony's gain is definitely politics loss.

Posted by: pat phelan at January 1, 2008 04:52 AM

The VoIP Weblog was mentioned in VoIP News' list, but my name wasn't, nor was, which doesn't do as much VoIP-related stuff since I took over The VoIP Weblog. It's easy for the "who" to get lost on Creative Weblogging blogs, I think, so it's somewhat excusable.

Posted by: PhoneBoy at January 1, 2008 06:42 PM

Thank you for mentioning my name. I read all of these blogs and try to explain my own point of view from time to time. For instance I sometimes feel like I am the only one who advocates that free calls are a great thing. :)

Posted by: Markus Göbel's Tech News Comments at January 2, 2008 02:21 AM

Aswath, that makes sense. I created a technorati-based list last year, but this year it doesn't make much sense since technorati changed the way the assign their rank. In addition, they never solved a BIG problem, that I experienced myself: if you change domain, you lose your rank. My authority was 220 on technorati with, then it dropped to 0 on June 2007 when my domain became Now it's 110, but it's hard to go back to 220 or something, it takes time... Phoneboy or Vinay have similar problems. I believe that a good way to measure the popularity of a blog is a mixture of:

- backlinks in the last year
- visitors/pageviews
- subscribers

I know blogs that have 2000 subscribers but barely 1000 pageviews/day. It's hard to make a good list, but I think all the players in the VOIP blogging are here and that's great.

Posted by: luca Filigheddu at January 2, 2008 04:24 PM

Sorry to say but don't agree with garett about being popular among a bunch of people. Just because i know you, would you rate a crap blog as influential? Then it makes no sense.

The blog is influential if it has a reader base. Whats the defination of being a famous personality? How popular you are in the society overall not in a page 3 circle.

As luca pointed out perfectly, the backlinks + visitors +subscribers base is something that need to counted while ranking a blog.

I can bet my blog would beat atleast 10 people you posted in the list :-)

Posted by: Vinay at January 2, 2008 09:43 PM

Thanks ashwath and Pat for noting me down. Markus and phoneboy are definately one of the upcoming VOIP bloggers even though we are new to the scene.

Posted by: Vinay at January 2, 2008 09:45 PM

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