How do you determine a blogger's authority?

As we all know, bloggers are all about the rankings. I've got one, Technorati ranks bloggers, Alexa ranks traffic and page views, and of course there's the Power 150. But Susan has a post today where she says she's tired of the various ranking systems, because she feels that none of them really accurately measure the authority of blogs.
I'll continue to measure the health of this blog by your comments, visits and the general trending I see in Google Analytics and Feedburner. I applaud the folks who are trying to come up with systems to measure the influence of a blog or a blogger, but am not sure it is possible given the highly suspect data sources available to us.


But like it or not, and I'll be the first to admit that EVERY ranking system has its issues, but such rankings do serve a purpose, especially for people that are just discovering the blogosphere.

But Skellie has another view. She asks us to put ourselves in the position of the visitor that has found our blog for the first time.
One question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is: what sets the top blogs and websites apart, from a visitor’s perspective?

The question has an astonishing answer. It’s not traffic, it’s often not subscriber numbers and it’s not advertising revenue. These are the things visitors don’t see, or don’t have to see.

If what visitors do see makes your blog or website look popular and successful, to visitors, it becomes popular and successful. Once that happens, it’s only a matter of time before the numbers begin to fall into line with the way people see you.
When you arrive at a blog for the first time, what do you look for first to try to determine for yourself if the blog has 'authority'? Do you look for number of comments, or do you do as Skellie suggests many do, and look for subscriber numbers or the design of the blog?

Pic via Flickr user My Hobo Soul


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posted by Mack Collier @ 11:34 AM,

10 Comments:

At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Cam Beck said...

Interesting question.

I tend to skip past the authority and focus on the content. If the content is good to me, I subscribe.

Still, I find lists like yours and others' valuable, as it helps me filter and identify good blogs that are out there. I found a bunch of blogs through your lists over the last year or so.

I find still other blogs because people comment on posts I've read or commented on. I figure if the person leaves an insightful comment, chances are they'll have an insightful blog, so I'll go and subscribe.

 
At 2:24 PM, Blogger Mario Vellandi said...

Quality of writing skills, content, and objectivity are the keys. Brevity is really great too.

 
At 3:09 PM, Blogger Linda said...

Hmm, interesting post.

I think there are a lot of great bloggers flying under the radar that haven't made these lists.

I like to check out the blogrolls of bloggers I like and see what they read. "If Mack Collier reads so-and-so, they must be good."

Same goes for trackbacks and comments. Who's trackbacking and commenting? That's more important than absolute numbers.

 
At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never look at authority or rankings (sorry). I care about content and good writing. Most of the blogs in my blogroll, I suspect, are not ranked.

True authority never comes from without. It must always be judged by content and accuracy and it must meet a group of readers wants and needs, not be judged by links (which mostly result from memes) or some similarly silly factor.

Here are a few examples:
1. Tim Tebow received the Heisman Trophy. Is he college football's best player? Of course not.
2. To become a NYT best seller, one needs to sell between 5k and 10k books in any given week, as recorded by a single source. Does that make it a great book? Almost never.
3. I can't tell you what TV's number 1 ranked show is, but I bet it's crap.
4. Britney had a number of top singles. Is she a great talent?

Rankings are for those whose egos need to be substantiated by some outside source. That is the purpose of all awards. Most readers don't pay much attention to them. Most people pay no attention to them. Name the top five Nobel Peace Award winners this year. Bet you can't.

Lewis Green

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

Personally I look at number of comments and the content itself. And to Skellie's point in her post about high subscriber and traffic numbers, I really don't think that applies as much for marketing blogs, because I can throw up a post with a pic of Christina Aguilera's nekkid belly and get more hits than I could here in a week. ;)

Lewis I knew you were itching to get a Tebow reference in, congrats!

But you add this: "Rankings are for those whose egos need to be substantiated by some outside source. That is the purpose of all awards. Most readers don't pay much attention to them. Most people pay no attention to them. Name the top five Nobel Peace Award winners this year. Bet you can't."

Here's where I disagree a bit. I think that for people that are new to this space, rankings are a great and quick way for them to find valuable blogs on a topic they are interested in. I know that was one of the first things I did when I started blogging, I started asking others 'who are the big guys?' And went from there.

 
At 6:46 PM, Blogger Roger said...

From Roger von Oech.

I look at the types of posts the blog contains. Do these "connect" with me and make me scroll down to see others? If so, that's a good sign.

(I also look at how the blog is laid out. Is it too busy? Are there hooks to catch me? "WordPress" blogs are usually a little nicer. Blogger blogs are less so. Personal opinion.)

Also, recently Blogger made it more difficult to leave comments. One must now choose a Google/Blogger identity. I liked the way it used to be, in which you'd leave a name, email address, and (optional) a website.

 
At 9:35 PM, Blogger Susan Getgood said...

Mack, I think you have one of the best *intentions* around when it comes to a ranking system. I'm just very disappointed in Technorati, especially since they haven't explained the dip. And it's not just me. Thank god. Otherwise I would be hiding under a rock by now.

Am I less influential today than I was Friday? No matter how small my influence may be,I'd like to think it is still the same this week as last.

But I know I'll be off your list next time round given the latest.

 
At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Lewis Green said...

Mack,

I agree with you. Rankings can be useful for people entering the blogosphere. My comment isn't meant as a criticism when I reference egos: We all have egos that often need to be substantiated. And I think because we recognize that, we create awards and rankings. Not a bad thing; just a human reaction. Are they valuable:

For the most part I think they are for people new to an arena and for those ranked or invested in their ranking (e.g., Tebow for us Gators). But for the vast majority of us, they are mostly ignored.

 
At 12:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As we all know, bloggers are all about the rankings."

Mack, I continue to say this and I believe it (or else I'm sure spending a lot of time getting these great folks together for naught), I am not about silly rankings. I'm about meeting wonderful people from all over the world that are so generous with their time and teachings.

I get concerned that when readers see lines like that, they believe that all we care about is rankings.

It couldn't be further than the truth for many of us.

(this is CK, btw. but google has made me sign in as anon on your blog).

 
At 7:38 AM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"I get concerned that when readers see lines like that, they believe that all we care about is rankings.

It couldn't be further than the truth for many of us."

We'll have to agree to disagree on this point, CK. I don't think that EVERY blogger cares about rankings, but I believe more do than don't.

 

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